Students giving wool a ‘Second Life’ at Bowen House exhibition
THE demise of the Kiwi male has been captured in the softness of felt by fine arts student .
Taranaki rural roots have inspired Chapman-Hall’s work, which is showing at Bowen House with other Whitireia arts students.
“My father is a shearer, so the conversation I’m having is on the demise of the New Zealand Kiwi male, and how masculinity has become a new contemporary idea,” said Chapman Hall, 31.
It also reflects the theme of the exhibition called Second Life, which focuses on the conflict of past and present, and the beauty that arises from it.
He said felting was originally from Mongolia but it had proven popular in New Zealand as a versatile material that could be interpreted into a huge range of shapes and textures.
The origins have given the students the opportunity to reinterpret the past and show the country’s shifting cultural heritage.
“The exhibition is about rebirth so we’ve taken a very traditional method and made something very contemporary,” Chapman-Hall said.
It also reflected the changing face of New Zealand industry.
“The shearing industry is slowly dying off because there is no real spinning machinery in New Zealand as the wool is exported to Australia or China to get washed and spun.”
Whitireia’s textile co-ordinator Deb Donnely said many people in New Zealand had the industry in their heritage.
“The exhibit is pausing for a minute to reflect on this.”
It is also part of a greater movement called Shibori, meaning “shape resistance”, exploring the ways in which artists can push the boundaries of natural materials.
“We’re looking for innovation and felting has allowed us to stretch our definition of what wool is.”
The exhibition is open to the public on Level 1 of Parliament’s Bowen House Exhibition Space, 70-84 Lambton Quay, Wednesday to Friday this week, 10am – 3pm.
Some of the works are shown below: