Contemporary Auckland-based artist Evan Woodruffe has transformed the Tauranga Art Gallery atrium with layers of dramatic velvet silk and vibrant canvas works in his solo exhibition, The World is Porous.

Created exclusively for the Tauranga Art Gallery, the exhibition opens to the public from 10am Saturday, July 28. And everyone is invited to attend a free floor talk by Woodruffe on open day at 10.30am.

As vivacious as his work, Woodruffe creates living pieces of art that are as colourful and diverse as people. Each piece is named for their "birthdays" and many are given the chance to escape their canvas confines to take on a life of their own.

"While my paintings remain the core of my practice, I want them to get off the wall and into the world, to move around and be active participants in our environments."

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Exploring new materials

For the atrium, Woodruffe finally had the chance to explore a new material he has "been dying" to play with: digitally-printed silk velvet.

Exclusively for the gallery, he has printed his work on to multiple lengths of fabric and sewn these together to create two large swaths of material measuring 4m x 16m and 5m x 6m.

No ordinary sewing machine and workroom could sew these beautiful pieces of fabric together. Woodruffe and his talented seamstress, Tanya Kakoma, had the generous use of the New Zealand Opera House textile workshop for three days to bring these pieces together.

These impressively large works were made possible with the support of Creative New Zealand and the faith of Tauranga Art Gallery director Karl Chitham, which allowed Woodruffe to take the creative leap of faith into this new medium.

Alongside the layers of shimmering velvet stand three large-scale modular paintings that are meticulous, layered and detailed. Each piece depicts a different world to be discovered as if under a microscope; all the cells and organisms blending and merging into one.

The World is Porous exhibition, running from July 28 to October 28, provides a perfect place for discovery. Where you can stop, and let your mind wander, or lose yourself in active contemplation of a world beyond our realm.

Collaboration

Woodruffe's team consist of many highly talented individuals.

Shifting his paintings on to other surfaces has expanded this team and his repertoire in fun and unforeseen ways.

"Developing my paintings on to other surfaces, such as furniture, fashion, architecture and automobiles, makes me work with other people too, expanding possibilities through collaboration and adding to the fun factor. Working with designers, performers, other artists, printers, and companies, everyone adds to the kete."

From the offcuts of his silk velvet works, Woodruffe has collaborated with Auckland-based tailors Strangely Normal to create a suit jacket. He also worked closely with pattern maker Veronica Harland to create a Dior inspired costume for Elibra Fleur.

Elibra Fleur is a longtime drag performer who forms part of the notorious K-Road Caluzzi Girls. Fleur helped Woodruffe open his exhibition at the Auckland Art Fair in 2016 and he often dresses her in outfits made from his work.

Another glamorous merger is Woodruffe's collaboration with BMW. Woodruffe "wrapped" BMWs with his vibrant artwork for the 2017 Sydney Contemporary.

Collaborations, especially between fashion and art, is a theme running through the shows and events at the Tauranga Art Gallery this winter. Alongside Evan Woodruffe's The World is Porous exhibition is Children of Mallarmé: Fashion, Art & Collaboration. Running until September 16, this show celebrates collaborations between fashion designers and visual artists in New Zealand and Australia over the past three decades.

On August 30, the Tauranga Art Gallery will again be exploring the collaboration between fashion and art at an event The Future of Fashion.

What: Evan Woodruffe: The World is Porous
Where: Tauranga Art Gallery
When: July 28 to October 28, 10am-4.30pm daily.

What: Artist talk
When: Saturday, July 28, from 10.30am
Entry: Free

What: Artist workshops
When: Saturday, August 18
Entry: Bookings required — visit artgallery.org.nz/events for more information.

Fan of Evan Woodruffe's work? Take home a piece of his colourful, dynamic artwork thanks to the Tauranga Art Gallery retail space or bid on Limited Edition Silk 2018 (pictured) at the Art for Kids Fashion Event taking place on September 8