Photo credit: Miranda Parkes: the merrier’ installation view featuring antibody banner; push me; (all 2017) courtesy Hocken Collections, Uare Taoka o Hākena. Photo: Iain Frengley.
The Frances Hodgkins Fellowship comes around once a year, and when it does, Christmas comes early. Established in 1962, the Fellowship aims to “encourage artists in the practice and advancement of their art” by providing them with a studio and a year’s stipend. All mediums are supported; the gallery is malleable to suit the artist's desires. Miranda Parkes has transformed a once banal white-walled shell into an artistic candy shop with barely a medium left untouched.
The work can be viewed in light of the recent news of Parkes’ pregnancy; there is a feminine, maternal undertone in the playful titles and the scribbled works of her young niece, Aria. This momentous event, however perspective altering, is not set to define the pre-conceptive work. Nonetheless, motherhood continues to influence her methods and final product to a degree that cannot go without mention.
Sourced from various facets of her everyday life, the materials flourish within the Hocken walls. A silk sheet attached to the pair of feature walls incorporates small slits along the bottom edge, the height of a toddler, as if beckoning play and exploration. Sister pieces titled ‘baby-daddy drop sheet: xerox’ and ‘baby-daddy drop sheet: cosmic’ were scavenged from commercial painting jobs completed by Parkes’ husband. Stretched on canvas and partnered alongside each other, they stand as a perfect tribute to the family oriented tone of the work.
Parkes’ concept of perspective further deviates from the norm. The standard hanging height of artwork is 1.5m, an average height for an average audience. However, considerate of a smaller human’s perspective, a few works have been hung low in corners or sculpted for viewing from the ground up, encouraging inclusivity. Video dominates a corner of one room, the camera work unsteady and the film superbly abstract, the variety of perception set to impress with every step from the entrance doors.
The overlap between art, poetry and everyday life rings clear in the adaptive painting pieces included in the periphery of the exhibition. Salvaged op-shop paintings and photographs are slathered in paper mâché and non-toxic paints, safe creative materials. Every framed explosion of colour is double sided (a picture of Max Key adorns one of the non-display sides, sacrilege), giving rise to the possibility of a B sided exhibition in the future. Parkes employs bright and often tongue-in-cheek reinventions of the original beneath, such as ‘joan madge on holiday’, a painting by Joan Madge herself clearly visible beneath the neon exterior.
There are too many charming idiosyncrasies to list; this exhibit is to be explored with an open mind and playful attitude. If you encounter any questions during your visit, the friendly Hocken staff are always on hand to inform and inspire.