Otago Daily Times
‘‘Nature Morte’’, Megan Huffadine
(Eade Gallery, Clyde)
MEGAN HUFFADINE’S work has long paid homage to Wunderkammer, the cabinets of curiosities that collated artefacts from geology, natural history, archaeology, antiques and artworks. Wunderkammer were a forerunner to our modern museums, conveying ideas, preserving history and highlighting individual wealth. In previous collections, Huffadine focused on sculpture, creating her own cabinets of wonders, arranging shapes and symbols, tools and vessels like the treasures of a past world, real and imagined. During last year’s lockdown, her journey turned towards her painting, combining symbols and visual language with the tradition of the still life.
Like the Wunderkammer, early stilllife painting frequently contained an allegorical message, or a display of riches. In modern art, it became as much about the structure of the composition, the movements of the brush, as it did the subject matter. It can turn the most mundane collection of everyday objects into something magical and beautiful; however, there is nothing commonplace about Huffadine’s subjects. By painting images of her own sculptures, it’s as if the past works have moved beyond a looking glass, preserved forever in a world of their own. Some of the painted boxes have the effect of a wallpapered rear wall, a definite enclosed space; while others extend into blackness and infinite possibility. The artefacts within conjure images of a magical past, a touch of fantasy and the shadows of the unknown.