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Kathy Barry and Sarah Smuts-Kennedy at Te Pātaka Toi Adam Art Gallery

July 13–September 25, 2022

Two artists, Kathy Barry and Sarah Smuts-Kennedy, collaborate on Energy Work to give visual form to intuited energy fields that are beyond the capacity of the human senses. They link us to the earth, the cosmos, and other dimensions of time and space by allowing the idea that there are forces outside our typical experience. To attune oneself to be receptive to these energies, each artist has completed mental and physical training methods. They put their all into their task. They enable different and deeper relationships between mind and world, spirit and nature by allowing themselves to be open to all of the world’s dimensions, which de-centers, re-orients, and increases our awareness of the multidimensional nature of the universe. This is the first significant show in a public institution for both artists, based on a review of their work from the previous ten years. To choose bodies of work and display them in arrangements specifically designed for Te Ptaka Toi Adam Art Gallery’s rooms, they have collaborated with the gallery.

Te Whanganui-a-Tara in Wellington is where Kathy Barry calls home. She has been working on creating series of watercolour paintings full-time since 2012. These represent the varying colored grids that map the energy fields that surround and pass through her. By suspending conscious aim, the artist allows “a guiding system that is very Other but feels too like a component of [herself] that is beyond the ordinary idea of self” to take over and create these abstract drawings. She received her MFA from the University of Auckland’s Elam School of Fine Arts in 2004 and her Postgraduate Diploma in Art History from Victoria University of Wellington’s Te Herenga Waka (2001). Her sculptures were displayed in Believe not every ghost, but test the spirits at Monash University Museum of Art (MUMA) in Melbourne in 2015 and the 32nd Bienal de So Paulo in 2016. She and Isobel Thom organized Homeworld, a two-person exhibition, at Te Uru Waitakere Contemporary Gallery in 2014 after completing the McCahon House artist residency in West Auckland in 2012. Since 2013, she has routinely displayed her artwork in solo shows at Bowen Galleries in Wellington.

Sarah Smuts-Kennedy works with particular materials—glass, brass, pastel, paper—to produce largescale drawings and constructions that are attuned to the invisible energies in her environs. Her aim, as she puts it, is to create “a field of joy…that supports and nurtures life.” She completed her MFA at Elam School of Fine Arts, University of Auckland in 2012. She was the McCahon House Artist in Residence between September and December 2016. Recent solo exhibitions include Joy Field, Sumer Gallery, Tauranga, 2021; Light Language, Te Uru Waitākere Contemporary Gallery, Auckland, 2017; Frequency of the Earth, Artspace Aotearoa, Auckland, 2017; and Shape Analysis, RM, Auckland, 2013. Her social sculptural commission For the Love of Bees, 2016–ongoing, has triggered a resurgence of regenerative organic urban farms and community compost hubs across Aotearoa New Zealand. She lives and works north of Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland splitting her time between her studio and her garden.

The art gallery at Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington is called Te Ptaka Toi Adam Art Gallery, and it is situated in Wellington, Aotearoa New Zealand’s capital. It serves as a platform for discussion of art, its history, and the organizational framework used to govern the Victoria University of Wellington Art Collection. The Gallery’s programs are designed to push the frontiers of art forms and disciplines, as well as to offer new chances for artists to interact and spark new discussions. The structure is a stunning architectural statement created by the late Sir Ian Athfield, a leading architect in New Zealand.

Energy Work is staged along with Barbara Tuck – Delirium Crossing, an exhibition of fourteen paintings developed as a partnership between Anna Miles Gallery, Ramp Gallery and Te Pātaka Toi Adam Art Gallery.

Adam Art Gallery at Victoria University of Wellington
PO Box 600
Gate 3, Kelburn Parade
Wellington 6140
New Zealand
Hours: Tuesday–Sunday 11am–5pm

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