by John Wishart
Abandoned Works by John Wishart will debut in Invercargill before touring the South Island. The exhibition is a collection of sculptural works focused on the collection and re-imagining of fragments or shells that the artist describes as abandoned.
Rather than being the outcome of a studio practice, the artist positions the work as part of an ongoing practice of making where the notion of completion is subverted proposing that an artwork is never finished but rather abandoned at a particular stage of the making process. Taking inspiration from objects collected from the local environment, the work mimics the process of something found or unearthed, a fragment of detritus cast ashore from the ocean after a period of being transformed by the elements. Through this practice objects perceived as unnatural or constructed such as the remnants of redundant industry become fused together with sand, stones, shells and over time are reshaped by the tides.
The Ocean Beach Freezing Works does not quite lie at the southernmost tip of the South Island, falling a mere six kilometres short, but it must surely have qualified, at least in its time of production, as the worlds southernmost meat works. High, dry and abandoned in the early 90s, its empty shell has only recently been re-inhabited, appropriately enough, by the fishing industry and its by-products.
The beach at the foot of its ramparts is strewn with the detritus of past lives. Along with the residua of shells, carapace and kelp lie the artifacts of occupation – bleached buoys, concrete slabs rounded, bouldered, ribs still showing, bottles beaded and blasted, transformed into objects of an uncertain provenance, an uncertain beauty.
It has been my joy as a sculptor to cast these objects, or at least their simulacra, and the spirit residing in them onto our urban shores in the hope that they may re-occupy our own barren and abandoned places. John Wishart