Enter a Forest of Works at Toi Poneke Gallery

25 November 2009

A small patch of lush Taranaki forest has provided the inspiration for a multi-disciplinary installation at Toi Poneke.

New Plymouth-based artist Leighton Upson arrives in Wellington next week to deck out Toi Pōneke Gallery with an installation of about 500 notational drawings (fragments or sketches) and paintings, and a myriad of wooden furniture such as shelves, stools, small tables and strange boxes. The exhibition, entitled This and This, and This, and Other Things Too, opens on Thursday,
3 December.

Leighton says it was his "life-long love of the abundance of life in our natural forest" that started off this body of work.

"All of the images were drawn or painted in a particular forest," says Leighton. "In fact, all the images were produced from an eight-by-fifteen-metre space within the Ratapihipihi Scenic Reserve in New Plymouth - one of the last remnants of untouched coastal forest in Taranaki."

Leighton has mocked up this work in his studio in New Plymouth over the last few months, and says people upon encountering such an installation have found it "intense" or "immersive".

"In addition to the way visitors see places like Ratapihipihi as 'scenic', I want to encourage a more active and curious experience when you're immersed in something as strange as a forest. I hope I've achieved this by using different styles to draw and paint.

"I don't want any particular style of work or piece of work to dominate the exhibition - it would be great if viewers could encounter the work as fragments and see what they make of it," he says.

After completing a Masters in Art History at Auckland University, Leighton decided that he was "too critical" for a career in that field and decided to focus on making his own art instead. He has just completed his Masters in Fine Arts at Auckland University of Technology. This is his first solo exhibition.

This and This, and This, and Other Things Too opens on Wednesday
2 December at 5.30pm at Toi Pōneke Gallery, 61–69 Abel Smith Street.

This is the last exhibition to take place at Toi Pōneke Gallery this year. The gallery will be closed from just before Christmas to mid-January.