Ann Shelton Seedling, Lovelock's 'Hitler-Oak', Timaru Boys High School, New Zealand C Print Dimensions Variable 2005-2010
Ann Shelton's latest project focuses on the particular histories and shared narratives of trauma, failure, and anxiety that circulate in relation to the social and cultural histories of a particular group of trees. The recently completed work Seedling, Lovelock's ‘Hitler Oak', Timaru Boys High School, Timaru, New Zealand depicts a now fully grown oak given, according to urban myth, to Jack Lovelock by Adolph Hilter, as a seedling at the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin.
The lives of this and the other 130 seedlings presented to the 1936 gold medalists have been controversial. In the same way that landscapes can prompt memory, anxiety and learned associations; so too can a tree chart trauma. An early indicator of globalisation and a marker of political and social change, this oak tree image has become the centerpiece and catalyst for a new project which will be shot in Europe and North America over the coming months and that will include several images of the trees sometimes referred to as ‘Hitler Oaks'.
Murray Hewitt's work Seven is the fifth in a series of poetic actions. The character changes his outfit in each performance although often an item is carried thru successive works - the 70's crash helmet is a constant. The clothing relates to the specifics of the place, the action being performed and the artist's reaction to those influences.
Seven has an obvious reference to Maori Chief Hone Heke's action of chopping down the flagstaff at Russell, New Zealand, in the late 1840's. The setting is a rugby training ground and at first glance the pole could be one side of the rugby posts. The character wears a blanket made into a kilt, which both the government troops and Maori wore during some of the bush campaigns in the 1860s and later.
"Are we not drawn onward to new era" is a palindrome - the same sequence of letters run forwards and backwards. Both artists' works in this exhibition have a sense of remembering and knowing history or our place, while we live presently making decisions about the future.
Shelton was born in Timaru, New Zealand and holds an MFA from The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada. She is recognised as one of New Zealand’s leading photographic artists and in 2010 was the overall winner of the CoCA Anthony Harper Contemporary Art Award. Her works are featured in numerous public and private collections internationally, and she has had many artist books, catalogues, and books published, including Redeye (Rim Books, New Zealand/Dewi Lewis, England, 1997).
Born in Hastings, New Zealand and currently based in Lower Hutt, New Zealand, Hewitt works predominantly in video. He holds a MFA from Massey University, Wellington, New Zealand.