Artist Brings Shanghai Expo to Toi Poneke

14 April 2011

Kerry Ann Lee returns to Toi Poneke Gallery following her successful 2009 exhibition Home Made and more recently, her sojourn to Shanghai as the first Wellington artist to take part in the Wellington Asia Residency Exchange (WARE), a Wellington City Council/Asia New Zealand Foundation initiative.

Da Shi Jie / The Great World: Shanghai Works 2009 - 2010 features the work she created as artist-in-residence. From Thursday 28 April, the gallery will be transformed into a 'deconstruction site', evoking meditations on culture, scale and monument - big dreams built on top of shifting terrain.

Kerry Ann - a mixed media artist who creates work with paper, found imagery and materials that are both expressive and socially engaged - says her time there was astounding.

"Punctuated by high-rise constructions cluttering the sky above, the pace below is giddying as old forms are replaced with new plastic dreams, traded and sold on the street before your very eyes. For me, Shanghai is a place of non-stop culture clash, where Western allusions and future city aspirations are noticeably Chinese."

This was Kerry Ann's first visit to China where she exhibited at island6 Art Centre, Shanghai Art Museum. Since then, she's already been back to put on a solo exhibition at am park gallery. Of Chinese New Zealand descent, she experienced displacement working as a transnational artist there, and was moved by the transformation the city was undergoing for the 2010 World Expo.

Works include Electric Warrior, a series of raw wire sculptures, and Chinese Relatives, paper-cut pieces set into recycled window frames. Inspiration for these came from local stonewall tenement houses that were being gradually demolished revealing a mysterious assortment of ephemera - stickers, lucky charms, pop posters and calendars ­- graphic remnants of people's lives caught in the great facelift of the city.

Wellington City Council's Arts and Culture Portfolio Leader, Councillor Ray Ahipene-Mercer, says he can't wait to see what Kerry Ann came up with while on her residency.

"Kerry Ann has been consistently original in her approach to her work, and every time, she takes it to a new and exciting level," he says. "We were thrilled to offer her this opportunity. We knew the result would be a rich tapestry of cultural commentary and exploration.

"It's also great to see her return to China since then for a solo show. This is exactly the kind of thing we wanted to achieve with the WARE exchange - international collaborations that continue long after the residency."

Some of the photomontage pieces she created on her second visit to China in June last year will also feature in the Toi Pōneke exhibition. Referencing science-fiction and past World Expo pavilions, she converted Shanghai's am art space into a public park with a real grass lawn.

Da Shi Jie / The Great World: Shanghai Works 2009 - 2010 opens at 5.30pm on Thursday 28 April and runs until Friday 20 May at Toi Pōneke Gallery, 61 - 69 Abel Smith Street. The gallery is open from 9.00am - 7.30pm on weekdays, and from 10.00am - 4.00pm on weekends.

A public talk featuring a conversation with the artist and guest speakers, Sophie Jerram, Dr Luo Hui, David Cross is scheduled to take place at the gallery at 6.00pm, Thursday 19 May. This exhibition is supported with generous funding from Otago Polytechnic.