News | 22 March 2016

Drawing the body apart

Toi Pōneke’s latest exhibition, a/part by Sam Dollimore, explores the way we view our own bodies, and how our perceptions can become skewed almost beyond recognition.

Illustrated body part in detail

Dollimore, who is currently completing a Masters degree, is a multidisciplinary artist, and was recently awarded the Friends of Pātaka 2016 artist residency.

a/part is her first solo show, and was originally inspired by the discomfort she felt during an exercise drawing her body from her own perspective. The resulting large-scale drawings are enigmatic – plainly human flesh, but not immediately identifiable.

Society and media are saturated with an overwhelming number of idealised bodies. Faced with this relentless parade and the inevitable self-analysis that goes along with it, a/part wryly asks how much attention and work one person’s body really needs? 

It’s exciting to see an emerging young artist like Sam given the opportunity for a solo show”, says Arts Portfolio Leader, Councillor Ray Ahipene-Mercer, “Toi Pōneke continues to provoke and challenge with its diverse exhibition programme”.

For a/part the artist says she has put to use all the body anxiety and confusion accumulated over fifteen years of living with an eating disorder, thirty-something years of wanted and unwanted attention, or lack-thereof, and a lifetime of obsessive and perfectionist tendencies.

“I’ve spent a long time trying, with debatable levels of success, to close the gap between my conscious ideals and undeniable reality”, says Sam. 

“In a way, these drawings acted as a conduit to put all that time and energy I would normally be wasting on self-scrutiny and criticism into something productive.  They’re a bit weird but magnificent at the same time – which, now I think about it, is also how I like to imagine myself.”

The drawings, made using fine-tipped ink pen on paper, feature Sam’s distinctive, densely scribbled drawing style.  Varied in scale, the largest of the works are two metres tall and took more than 150 hours to complete.

“They are definitely as labour intensive as they look.  But that’s actually forced me to learn to manage my physical work habits better, which I suppose ties in quite nicely with the theme of the work.  Even though I wouldn’t exactly say I enjoy the drawing process, it’s so satisfying when they’re done that it’s always worth it.

“My work addresses an underlying idea that our perceptions of our own bodies can grow psychologically larger even than ourselves; becoming something confusing and too powerful for our own good”.

Meet and hear the artist talk, 1pm Saturday 30 April at Toi Pōneke Gallery.