Wellington Artist Selected for Residency at Toi Poneke

10 November 2009

Wellington artist Shane McGrath has just been selected for the DEBLYN artist-in-residence programme at Toi Poneke Arts Centre.

This is the first time the residency - a joint venture between Toi Pōneke and property management company, DEBLYN Properties - has been offered to artists. The residency includes a free ten-month lease for an artist studio as well as a solo show at Toi Pōneke Gallery at the end of the residency.

A call for proposals went out to all arts institutions in the Wellington region in September this year, Shane was selected from 14 applicants. He takes up residency in February 2010.

The Council's Arts Portfolio Leader, Councillor Ray Ahipene-Mercer, says this is a great opportunity for anyone leaving art school.

"We're delighted to get this residency off the ground," says Cr Ahipene-Mercer. "I congratulate everyone involved - the staff at Toi Pōneke and DEBLYN for arranging this exciting opportunity, as well as Shane for being selected."

Shane McGrath submitted a proposal to continue his work on transportation vessels and flight objects, such as a large-scale medieval Zeppelin to exhibit at the end of the residency. He is currently working on transforming a clinker boat (a type of wooden boat) into a rocket ship for his Masters in Fine Arts at Massey University.

Shane's thrilled to get the residency, mainly because "it allows me to maintain momentum and go straight into another major project as soon as I've finished my masters in February.

"Not to mention the fact that I'll be in Toi Pōneke with about 40 other artists of all kinds - I hope to get a lot out of that environment. I reckon the promised solo show at the end of the residency was definitely a draw card for all applicants as well. It's quite a big deal to have a show so early after completing studies."

Shane studied fine arts and film in Melbourne in the late 90s and exhibited in artist-run spaces and the Melbourne International Film Festival. Since then, he's been working on all kinds of arts projects, including set design for theatrical productions, working in art departments on children's television shows, and freelance illustrating for Learning Media and Huia Publishing - which led him to be commissioned to do a 40-page Māori language graphic novel.

"I've always had an interest in the romantic and metaphysical use of vessels - hence the rocket ship that I'm working on at the moment," says Shane. "They evoke many connotations for people - themes of fantasy, danger, excitement and - for me - journeys of the soul.

"I try to discuss themes of spirituality and its relevance or rejection in my work, but I don't like to take myself too seriously. The balance I've attempted to find between the two involves a sense of humour. Some of my favourite artists, Panamarenko, Maurizio Cattelan and Terry Gilliam, for example, managed to maintain a sense of humour in their work - that's definitely something I admire."

There'll be a chance to see the clinker boat-come-rocket ship on display this week at The Print Factory building, 35 King Street, Mt Cook. Shane and several other artists are displaying work in a collaborative exhibition entitled Place in Space: An Exhibition of Artworks in Progress. The exhibition opens tomorrow evening and runs for just five days until Sunday 15 November. The Print Factory is open 11.00am - 3.00pm each day.