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Longrange Road -2009

Preview Opening Tuesday 17th February 2009 5.30pm to 7.30pm The thought of living on a farm in New Zealand conjures up a perception of an idyllic rural environmen ...

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Preview Opening Tuesday 17th February 2009 5.30pm to 7.30pm

The thought of living on a farm in New Zealand conjures up a perception of an idyllic rural environment, an image firmly entrenched in city folk, tourists, and those living abroad. The reality now is many Kiwis only experience or view this lifestyle from air conditioned interiors as they quickly motor past or fly to and from the main cities and holiday destinations in New Zealand.
Artist Joanna Upperton is a New Zealander who has grown up on a typical New Zealand farm in the central Hawkes Bay, tending dairy cattle, feeding chickens, and attending a rural New Zealand school. If you haven’t bumped along an unsealed dusty backroad to the tune of a grinding underpowered J type Bedford bus perhaps you haven’t experienced rural New Zealand. Upperton stored away childhood images of old caravans resting on spare farmland, rural delivery letterboxes with their flags up or down, kiddie made tree huts, the old school bus, and of course lots of sheep and Friesen cows. A great fondness for architecture is also reflected in the whimsical buildings which can be found scattered throughout the landscapes. Several have even arrived by post in a pressed steel letterbox (see “Hibby’s Last Post”). The rural road where the school bus called daily is the title for the exhibition, “Longrange Road”. Every original artist interprets his or her surroundings in their unique way and here Upperton has proved no exception. Her view is one of an idyllic landscape, but fettered with whimsy, childhood dreams, fantasy and plenty of happy memories.
“This series is based on me growing up on a sheep and beef farm in central Hawkes Bay and all the things we use to get up to, building tree huts, feeding the chickens (Beatrice had such a bad attitude, she wouldn’t let us near the eggs), long drops plotted around the place, catching the old Bedford bus to school and spending weekends at Pourerere Beach. I want to carry on my ornate ideas, giving everyday NZ icons a fancy flare and keeping my known houses which symbolize the tree huts” says Upperton.

Upperton’s work is highly surreal but tempered by her bubbly, positive and hugely creative mindset. As her first Auckland solo show this young artist sees this exhibition as a journey, so why not follow her back to the good old days of rural New Zealand, but perhaps not exactly as some would remember or know it!

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