Earthwalk: Judy McIntosh Wilson

17 July 1988 – 23 August 1998

Selected works from a major survey exhibition of one of New Zealand's most internationally acclaimed sculptural artists will be on display at the McDougall Contemporary Art Annex when Earthwalk, by North Canterbury-based Judy McIntosh Wilson, opens in July.

Regular McDougall visitors will be familiar with Wilson's characteristic style, due to her Tall Poppies installation at the Gallery in 1994, and her basalt stone circle works for the Sculpture in the Gardens in 1995‒6.

Wilson lives in Waikuku, North Canterbury, and has received substantial international recognition for her work and has featured in sculptural exhibitions throughout North America and Europe. In 1994, she was one of only seven artists invited to participate in the prestigious Krakamarken Nature Park symposium in Denmark.

Wilson graduated from the University of Canterbury in 1958 with a Diploma in Fine Arts (Sculpture). She began working with fibre after leaving university, and still retains obvious weaving elements in her work, but became increasingly interested in the use of stone, which she wrapped with paper, flax, and subsequently, bark. This process gradually evolved into a highly distinctive technique in which stones and other organic objects are bound with natural fibres or otherwise restrained by being placed into boxes woven from elm bark, often with divisions separating objects by size, colour, or shape. The elegance and serenity of Wilson's work stems from this deliberate contrast between the diversity and unpredictability found in nature and the sense of restriction she enforces by controlling the order and placement and by binding, enclosing, boxing and sorting.

Five separate sculptural installations made from 1992 to 1998 have been chosen from the Earthwalk retrospective to be shown at the Annex. They include On the Surface, in which Wilson creates an extremely beautiful and delicate surface texture by applying gesso to papier mache bowls – a subtle effect arrived at through months of experimentation. This process has been graphically documented in a video of Wilson at work which accompanies the exhibition. Tideline, made in 1998, provides a breathtaking and poetic spectacle. Made up of hundreds of pieces of driftwood which have been arranged to echo the sweeping ebb and flow of the sea over sand, this work is a perfect example of the duelling tendencies between individuality and order in Wilson's installation work.

Organised and toured by the Dowse Art Museum.
Supported by Creative New Zealand.

This exhibition was held at the Robert McDougall Contemporary Art Annex in the Arts Centre.