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NEXUS : Skinroom - Happenstance & Purlieus (Exerpt)

AUG. 2017

By Peter Dornauf

Skinroom Gallery in Frankton is currently running two shows, one that has a very traditional aesthetic while the other screams contemporary. The former is the work of Kohl Tyler-Dunshea and consists of beautifully rendered images of leaves and flowers delicately accomplished in watercolour, on paper, that would delight the most conservative of patron. But before one dismisses these seemingly dated forms, a closer look suggests something more modern is going on here.


The flora involved have a flattened appearance that reminds one of those botanical collectors who have placed their species under pressure to achieve preservation. One is thus alerted to a conflation of ideas that link both the past and the present, the nineteenth century with the twenty-first. The plant forms are presented in a format that recall Victorian collectors and botanists who came to New Zealand during the pre-colonial period and painted new specimens they observed as a way of advancing scientific knowledge. One is reminded of work of Sydney Parkinson, the artist/ illustrator who accompanied Captain Cook on his voyage to New Zealand in 1768, along with Joseph Banks the British naturalist. Parkinson’s Florilegium was finally published in 35 volumes in 1988.


Tyler-Dunshea has obviously one eye on history and the other on our contemporary concern with ecology. All her specimens were collected from a small area in Auckland where the artist resides which gives the show its title, Purlieus, meaning a tract of land that borders a forest. Conservation and environmentalism with a touch of nostalgia is captured in these translucent images that map the backyard as our world...



View the article on Nexus here.

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