Charcoal drawings raise questions
Polychrome – the annual exhibition of student artwork from Ara Institute of Canterbury – closes this weekend at the Aigantighe Art Gallery.
This year Polychrome has displayed artworks by Christchurch and Timaru postgraduate students Rachael Winter, Joe Smith, Elizabeth Moyle, Jenny Ritchie and Craig Cook.
Local artist Cook uses charcoal to produce a series of large-scale drawings to reveal the limitations of human perceptions of nature – raising questions such as: ‘‘If a beach is a living entity, what does the artist perceive of this entity? How can a visual artist depict a reality that cannot be fully captured by human senses?’’.
Cook elaborates: ‘‘My process involves walking a stretch of rough South Canterbury coastline (Seadown Beach) that I have become familiar with over the course of my life.
‘‘The ecology of Seadown Beach is exposed and vulnerable through a combination of human induced and natural erosive forces. Remnants of a forgotten past become human detritus able to be unearthed and allowing the past to open up to the present and shimmer in the light of a new day,’’ Cook says.
‘‘The hypnotic pulsing and crashing of waves and the wisp of salt air circulating around me enhances a white noise and a contemplative state of mind – a state of mind that considers ways of visually communicating a phenomenological response to this particular environment.
‘‘My drawings evolve over time into mindscapes that rely on the physical experience and memories held in the mind’s eye.
‘‘Also the fragility and transitional state of the charcoal medium enhances the concept that memories are often fragmentary, containing mere traces of forgotten events,’’ Cook says. ❚ Rachael Winter, Joe Smith, Craig Cook will give a floor talk about their artworks on display at 1pm today at the Aigantighe Art Gallery.
Above, Timaru artist Craig Cook use of charcoal to produce a series of large-scale drawings to reveal the limitations of human perceptions of nature, raising a number of searching questions.