Mr and Mrs Hands
New Zealand artist Kate Newby was commissioned to develop a series of new temporary public artwork for Bristol as part of Arnolfini’s exhibition ‘The Promise’, (July 19 – 4th November, 2014). The group of artwork, which are collectively entitled ‘Mr and Mrs Hands’ comprised gestures and objects that explored the role that architecture plays in shaping our thought and perception.
Kate Newby’s material is her immediate environment — language, objects, architecture and personal relationships are combined to create scenarios from quotidian situations in the places she occupies and the actions involved in making her work. Often working with peripheral sites inside and outside of the gallery, Newby intervenes with the physical fabric of her chosen location to generate conversations that pull, direct, and expand the viewer’s attention beyond conventional art viewing.
Drawing out both the physical and poetic attributes of her materials Newby’s work visualises an encounter and forefronts action — collapsing and confusing the lines between process and product, doing and documentation.
Installed on four sites across the city in overlooked or surprising spaces, Mr and Mrs Hands was a series of temporary interventions - gestures and objects - made in response to the city. The sites included One Redcliffe Street - where the artist employed a group of professional abseilers to weave a red rope through the architectural roofline of one of Bristol’s highest and most iconic buildings, Welshback, - where a bright green concrete collar was attached to a mature tree, and Brunel Way underpass, where the artist utilised the pebble inlaid surface of the concrete structure to pick out a series of texts. A final work was installed on Redcliffe Way Bridge where the artist used the swing bridge control room as a setting for handmade ceramics made by Newby during the weeks leading up to the exhibition, made at Bristol’s local ceramic studio ‘Pot Stop’.
Kate Newby was born in Auckland, New Zealand in 1979 and currently lives and works between Auckland, NZ and Brooklyn, NY. She graduated with a Doctor of Fine Arts from the University of Auckland’s Elam School of Fine Arts in 2015. In 2012 she was awarded the prestigious Walter’s Prize by international judge Mami Kataoka, chief curator at the Mori Museum of Art in Tokyo, Japan. Recent solo exhibitions include The January February March, with Jennifer Kabat, The Poor Farm, Wisconsin, USA (2016); Two aspirins a vitamin C tablet and some baking soda, Laurel Doody, Los Angeles (2015); and Always Humming, Gertrude Contemporary, Melbourne (2015).
A selection of recent solo exhibitions include: Maybe I won’t go to sleep at all., La Loge, Brussels (2013); Let the other thing in, Fogo Island Gallery, Newfoundland (2013); What a day., Hopkinson Cundy, Auckland (2013) Crawl out your window, Walters Prize exhibition, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki, Auckland (2012); All parts. All the time., Olive St. Garden, Brooklyn (in association with New York City Department of Parks & Recreation and International Studio and Curatorial Program ISCP, New York) (2012). Selected group exhibitions include: The Promise, Arnolfini, Bristol, UK (2014); On the Blue Shore of Silence, Tracy Williams, New York (2014); Portmanteaux, Hopkinson Mossman, Auckland (2014); Thin Air, Slopes, Melbourne (2014); Lovers, Starkwhite, Auckland (2014).
The Promise is about the relationship between a city and its residents. If we understand the city as more than a place, and more than a shared infrastructure, how do a city’s inhabitants live together? How does the city’s design – its architecture, urban planning and landscape, impact on the lives of residents?
“A poem compresses much in a small space and adds music, thus heightening its meaning. The city is like poetry: it compresses all life, all races and breeds, into a small island and adds music and the accompaniment of internal engines.” (E.B. White, Here is New York, 1949)
The Promise looks at the role of design and art in the city – how future cities might function, and how we see and create a story for a city. The project focuses on significant points in the history and changing agendas of social planning, such as post war construction, the redevelopment of the harbourside and more recently, the increasing importance of green issues as Bristol takes on the title of European Green Capital in 2015.
Besides the exhibition in the galleries at Arnolfini, the project engages with the city directly. International artists have been invited to develop new works for significant places in Bristol. A series of events and an engagement programme for all ages accompanies the project, taking place both at Arnolfini and across Bristol.
The exhibition includes works by Marcel Breuer, Abraham Cruzvillegas, Conway and Young, Luke Fowler, Isa Genzken, Judith Hopf, John Miller, Charlotte Moth, muf: architecture/art, Studio Manuel Raeder, Josef Strau, Sophie Warren and Jonathan Mosley, Stephen Willats, and a Mapping Project: Doing Things Separately Together. Offsite commissions include works by Jeremiah Day, Assemble, Gabriel Lester, Kate Newby, Oscar Tuazon, and Lost Property. The exhibition is accompanied by a new text by Jennifer Kabat.
Arnolfini is one of Europe’s leading independent, contemporary arts organizations, and is the flagship art centre for the South West of England with 450,000 visitors annually. 2011 is the year of Arnolfini’s 50th anniversary. Since its foundation in 1961, Arnolfini has built an international reputation for commissioning and presenting innovative, experimental work in the visual arts, always with a strong emphasis upon audience engagement. Many thousands of artists and performers have been involved with Arnolfini during this time, often gaining their first opportunity before going on to long-term success, and this wealth of creativity has been appreciated and enjoyed by consistently large audiences. Much of this ground-breaking work would not have been made or shown in Bristol and the South West region without the Arnolfini. Previous major solo exhibitions at Arnolfini have included: Marcel Broodthaers, Bridget Riley, Richard Long and Liam Gillick, as well as more recently Cosima von Bonin in 2011.
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Arnolfini, Bristol City Council
Arnolfini, Bristol City Council