ELLIOT COLLINS

By The River - New Work From Paris & Rotterdam, 8 February - 10 March 2012
Elliot Collins
Auckland, February 2012


"In 2011 I completed two Residencies, one in the small village of Marnay-sur-Seine outside Paris and a second in the Netherlands at Duende Studios, Rotterdam.

As part of my Paris project I wanted to document the famously beautiful countryside and the special quality of its light; aspects recognisable in the painting of artists such as Monet, Manet and Van Gogh. My photographic documentation of the village - from river to roof tiles - was abstracted into paint, each photograph suggesting a colour and each colour translating into the painting Every Colour in Marnay-Sur-Seine. I remember wondering, in a piece I wrote for the Summer 2011 issue of Art News New Zealand, whether "... my translation of the place will be as evident and potent when seen at home as it was in France, where even the air is a different colour."

In Rotterdam I felt further away from home. It was Autumn and I was cold. I found myself making artworks that were almost notes to myself - text-based paintings that would remind me who I was and what I believed in. In case I forgot. I suspended a rope swing from my studio ceiling - like the rope swings of childhood beach holidays - and used it to create slashing gestures in paint across canvases prepared with colour and text. The movement of the swing was chaotic and the brush strokes were difficult to control. There were regular accidents and I found myself having to relax my (usually) strict rules about what painting should be.

Despite their having been made in Europe I've come to understand that these new works cannot be separated from my connection to home. Their context is woven into my own story - which will always start in a rugged part of West Auckland. I've also come to understand that the act of going overseas to show the world who we are is as important as returning home with new ideas. One almost feels like an explorer in the days of Captain Cook, bringing back spices from faraway places to flavour a New Zealand meal - a meal that needed a little something extra to make it really special."

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