The Healing Power of Art
The Healing Power of Art Tuesday,
14 June 2011, 2:17 pm
Press Release: Page Blackie Gallery
PRESS RELEASE – For immediate release The Healing Power of Art Any artist can use rage or destruction as inspiration for art. And the result tends to be ‘shock art’ – art you can’t ignore because it gets in your face. But in the face of ongoing aftershocks, including the recent hits on 13 June, something that has come up again and again is the antithesis: the healing power of art.
Rapidly emerging as the symbol of the rebuild of Christchurch, is Neil Dawson’s Chalice, the enormous sculpture in Cathedral Square. When the twin towers collapsed on September 11, Cantabrians put flowers under Dawson’s sculpture with letters of grief and support to the victims. And now it is again the symbol of healing, standing proud beside the toppled cathedral spire, as a reminder of what is to return in the troubled city.
Neil Dawson, like everyone in Christchurch, has experienced six months of trauma. In preparing his new exhibition, opening next week at Page Blackie Gallery, his long circular journey of what to create in response to the chaos, lead him to one possible outcome: calm, beautiful, refuge.
If you didn’t know about the earthquakes, your first look at Dawson’s new work might remind you of beautifully coloured molecules, floating across a giant contact lens. However, in the real world of media coverage, it doesn’t take long to recognise Dawson’s forms as abstractions of the pictures that have become so familiar over recent months – GeoNet’s maps, showing quake locations and magnitudes.
But, going against the grain of the tragic circumstances, Dawson feels strongly about art remaining beautiful, agreeing with Christchurch Art Gallery curator Justin Paton’s recent comments: “Artists shouldn’t build artworks from quake detritus, but rather create beauty, becoming the sanctuary above the destruction”.
Dawson sees his own work as the result of this search for beauty, and for peace and calm, where he can explore emotions, inwardly. Following the 13 June quakes, which affected numerous businesses Dawson relies on, the artist was adamant the show must go on, saying, “There is certainly risk in getting these works ready in time for the opening next week, but in light of what’s going on, a bit of risk seems quite appropriate.”
Each work is a construction of convex, opaque, acrylic, printed with Dawson’s colours and shapes. When standing in front of one, time slows. Your gaze doesn’t hit the surface of the work, but rather, melts into a floating space of colour and depth. And with that Dawson gives you a moment of quiet repose. It’s beautiful.
Neil Dawson’s PULSE, runs at Page Blackie Gallery from 21 June through to 16 July.
– Page Blackie Gallery, 42 Victoria Street, Wellington
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