Mar 24, 2021 Arts
Kate Newby’s new exhibition is an excavation of the Adam Art Gallery, and of Wellington itself.
When I call Kate Newby, whose exhibition YES TOMORROW is on now at the Adam Art Gallery, she’s in the middle of making ropes. She’d already made a wind chime out of 1000 pieces of ceramics, and 198 tiles (“I made more but a lot exploded in the kiln”) which form an above ground drain running down Terrace Tunnel Park, just down the hill from the gallery.
She’d been cutting into the walls of the gallery, installing window panes with holes in them so the Wellington wind blows right through the gallery (“It’s a quite wild experience,” she says), and replacing some of the concrete floors with her own. “You don’t know where [the work] begins and ends,” she says. “All the works have inserted themselves into the fabric of the gallery.”
All of which is emblematic of Newby’s art practice — cutting, excavating, mining, then rebuilding, repurposing, reimagining. Her materials (bricks, ceramics, concrete, fabric, language, people) are collected from wherever she finds herself.
Newby grew up in Bethells Beach and then Karangahape Rd, but since 2012 has lived abroad, mostly in New York, but travelling from Lisbon to Mexico City to Martha to Fogo Island on an endless tour of art world residencies.
Having recently moved from Brooklyn to a small town an hour out of San Antonio (her rental includes deer, coyotes and seemingly endless acres of brush), she has returned to New Zealand to make her first major public exhibition in years. (Despite her international recognition, Newby is, like many female artists of her generation, conspicuously underrepresented in the collections of local public institutions.)
YES TOMORROW is emblematic of Newby’s global localism — collecting broken glass from footpaths; upcycling old work from the archive boxes stored at her childhood home in Bethells; taking local clay and moulding it on the thighs of family, friends, colleagues and strangers then firing it in kilns in Matakana, Paeroa and Berhampore.
This is an exhibition that could only be made here, not only materially charting her journey home to Auckland and then down the island to Wellington, but shaping her work on the bodies of people that live here, “using the literal energy of the participant to shape and dry the clay, using the energy of the community I have in New Zealand”.
Adam Art Gallery Te Pātaka Toi
20 Feb — 30 May 2021
This content was created in partnership with WellingtonNZ.