From the Front Yard to the Inner City, Suburban Floral Association Comes to Town.
What are hydrangea bushes doing among the steel and concrete of Newmarket? Why are flower lovers gathering outside the train station just off Broadway? Artists Monique Redmond and Tanya Eccleston, aka Suburban Floral Association, provide the answer with their work Shopfront, running from the 8th to the 19th of March in a retail space in Newmarket’s new Station Square.
Described by the artists as an “alternative gardening event” Shopfront brings the Auckland suburbs’ brightest blooms to the inner city in the form of video screenings, installations, a flower arranging workshop and talks. Changing regularly in form over its 12 days, Suburban Floral Association will, at different times, invite the public to bring along cut flowers and foliage, take away a cutting for the garden or just watch this ‘flowering event’ change and grow.
Shopfront has been commissioned for the Auckland Arts Festival by public art programme Letting Space, which brings artists and property owners together to explore creative uses for vacant commercial inner-city space. Letting Space was responsible for Kim Paton’s Free Store, and Tao Wells’ The Beneficiary’s Office, which ran in Wellington in 2010, both causing national media interest and debate.
In commissioning Suburban Floral Association to create this work for the Auckland Arts Festival, Letting Space likens a healthy urban environment to a verdant garden.
“In the suburbs, the fashion for different plants and plantings don’t come and go so easily as in the inner-city,” says artist Tanya Eccleston. “You learn to love what you inherit, and treasure mature plants in all their diversity.”
The artists have documented the difference and character of front yard planting and gardening along the suburban streets of Auckland – bringing our attention to how that one beautiful plant, planted well and visible from the street, can become an inspiration to many, shaping the visual landscape of our everyday lives for generations to come.
Often suburban gardens are considered private paradises hidden behind fences. In a series of “driveby shootings”, the Suburban Floral Association has taken photographs from road and footpath of flowering shrubs. The 12-day Shopfront show will feature these photographs and videos and other public events. On Friday 11th March the Suburban Floral Association will be providing visitors with suburban plant cuttings, whilst on Saturday 12th March the public is invited to contribute flowers and foliage from their own gardens to help make an artwork. The artists will be present during all opening hours.
Suburban Floral Association’s Shopfront can be found outside Newmarket’s new railway station in Station Square, from the 8th to the 19th of March. Given they are on the Newmarket Station’s doorstep visitors are encouraged to take the train.
For more information on the events programme and details of opening hours the public are directed to a detailed events guide at www.lettingspace.org.nz/suburban-floral-association.
Shopfront is supported by the Auckland Arts Festival and AUT University.
Shopfront by Suburban Floral Association, 8-19 March
Station Square, Corner Broadway & Remuera Rd, Newmarket Railway Station, Auckland
A Letting Space public art project in association with and supported by the Auckland Arts Festival
For more information and photographs please contact
Letting Space (Sophie Jerram and Mark Amery)
tel 029 934 9749 or 027 3566 128
About the artists
Monique Redmond is an artist and teacher living in Mt Albert, New Zealand. She is interested in front gardens, flowering trees and blooms that occupy suburban spaces. The suburban context, its sites, architecture, planting and gardens are a source for installation and photographic works that both draw upon and document the lived spaces of her everyday. She is currently Programme Leader Visual Arts at the School of Art and Design, AUT University. She has initiated or exhibited as part of a range of major art projects both in New Zealand and Australia.
Tanya Eccleston is an artist, writer and teacher now living in Avondale, New Zealand. Her own interests as an artist are in working with social contexts and communities. She has recently immigrated to Auckland from Glasgow, Scotland where rhododendrons grow wild as weeds in the hills and no-one would dream of planting one in their front garden. Tanya was formerly Head of the Sculpture and Environmental Department at the Glasgow School of Art.
About Letting Space
Public art programme Letting Space commissions leading artists to work in vacant commercial properties, interacting with a wider community, and with the intention of transforming relationships between artists, property owners and their city. 2010 projects in Wellington with Creative New Zealand and Wellington City Council support included Tao Wells’ controversial project The Beneficiary’s Office, in which Wells’ set up a PR company to promote the benefits of unemployment, and Kim Paton’s Free Store, in which Paton set up an independent grocery store giving away food for free to explore systems of food distribution. Versions of the Free Store as community projects are now open in Waitakere and Wellington. Other major projects were completed in 2010 by artists Eve Armstrong and Dugal McKinnon, and two further projects are due in April and May by Colin Hodson (a work treating an office building as lit art object) and Bronwyn Holloway-Smith (a real estate showroom for apartments on Mars).
More information can be found at http://www.lettingspace.org.nz/suburban-floral-association/