For Loan, Raewyn Martyn, 2012, seats available to borrow from the gallery reception desk.
For Loan was conceived for The Obstinate Object at CGW in 2012. It is connected to previous works like the Glover Park Day Beds, Enjoy PAG, 2011; and Painting/Blind at DPAG, 2010. The ongoing project CAMPING PAINTINGS, also grew out of this series.
For Loan, came about in 2011 commissioned for The Obstinate Object exhibition, after the Glover Park Daybeds project. The initial proposal for The Obstinate Object was to create soak-stain oil skin jackets, available for loan from a coat rack in the gallery. But because the exhibition was to occur in summer months, this changed to the folding stools.
For Loan, responded to the City Gallery building, which was originally built as Wellington’s public library. It also recalled a childhood experience, visiting a touring exhibition at Dunedin Public Art Gallery, with my grandmother. She made a joke about Morris Louis soak stain paintings looking like a caravan awning. And I’ve always enjoyed the conflation of materials, contexts, and recreations that her joke creates. She was a lifelong painter, and wasn’t unappreciative of abstraction, but she had a healthy ambivalence for value of one thing over another.
The origins of the series are in an assignment completed for an art theory class at Massey SOFA in 2004. The task was to write a proposal for a hypothetical project. I proposed to disrupt the conventional experience of Abel Tasman National Park by undertaking a series of painterly and performative actions along the track. Some of these would be more purely subjective, without audience, and others would attempt to become intersubjective or to be public. At the time, I had just spent a summer working as a DOC information ranger at the Nelson ISITE visitor information centre. I was intrigued by the way the tourism industry and DOC presented landscape and the ecosystem of the DOC parks in the region. This was at the time that many visitors were especially interested in sites related to filming of the Lord of the Rings movies and so there was an added element of virtual conflation and mythologizing around the sites. Until that point, having spent a large part of my youth in Nelson, my mythologies around those landscapes had been based on European settler-colonial narratives in contrast and/or conversation with those of mana whenua. I was interested in what these three perspectives might produce through abstraction and performative intervention. Not in a way that represented or interpreted the content of the narratives, but in a way that was attuned to them as part of that site, landscape, or ecosystem.
Later in 2004 I began working at Wellington City Libraries while I continued my studies at Massey. I worked primarily at Newtown library but also at Island Bay Library, Brooklyn Library, and occasionally at the Central Library (after graduation and while I was at teachers college I worked at Kilbirnie and Miramar libraries). Again, I found myself thinking about how painterly or performative interventions might exist in that kind of social space. I appreciated the way that people inhabited the library space and I didn’t ever realize a project there, but that thinking certainly informed the works Painting / Blind, Glover Park Day Beds, and For Loan. Painting/Blind, 2010, was a custom-sewn blind made for the rear window of the DPAG. The gallery building was built as a 19th C department store that sold many new forms of interior decoration, including raw materials and supplies for window dressings. The gestures and color palette used to stain the linen blind and accompanying scrims were sampled from close studies of Francis Hodgkins paintings. I was interested in collapsing the historical and contemporary uses of the building as department store and gallery.
For information about Glover Park Day Beds, you can read the essay via Enjoy or my blog.
In the ongoing project Camping Paintings, paintings are made by stretching custom-sewn pieces of canvas scrim from the framework of camping tents. Each time I go camping, the tent is pitched and the scrim is painted to accumulate adaptive camouflage and uncamouflage over time, as I move between campsites and forest parks. It is an ongoing investigation of how painting, performance, and photography can produce and document adaptive and expressive inhabitance and intervention. I am currently paused in the midst of writing an essay about Camping Paintings in relation to histories of plein air painting (and specifically my grandmother’s practice), camping, colonization, and site-based practice that engages camping, like that of Robert Smithson, or the Camp Campaign project of Ayreen Anastas and Renee Gabri, which I came across more recently.
exhibition catalogue, City Gallery website: http://citygallery.org.nz/assets/3Raewyn-Martyn.pdf