There's a figure wrapped up in Francis Upritchard's Blue and Green Scarf in Auckland Art Gallery's new exhibition, Freedom Farmers, which opened last night. The scarf looks delicate but there's an android quality to the "human", made of modelling material, foil, wire, paint and human hair. It's an instantly recognisable Upritchard work: attractive, yet slightly creepy.
Freedom Farmers, put together by AAG curator Natasha Conland, is the largest survey of contemporary New Zealand art in the gallery in 25 years.
Its aim is to have its 20 artists attempt to explore "ideas of utopia, sustainability and artistic freedom to encourage discussions about creativity".
"It positions artists as innovators and leaders in New Zealand," says Conland, "a culture that values invention, forward thinking and liberty."
The show includes photomontage images from Ava Seymour called Valley of the Fruitcakes; vintage photographic prints by Wayne Barrar; ceramics by Tessa Laird; digital video Burn Out by Steve Carr; a tree hut by Richard Maloy; and an installation, Free Spirit No Interest, by Martin Basher. Edith Amituanai, the et al collective, Dan Arps and Mladen Bizumic are among the 20 also featured.
Freedom Farmers is accompanied by a full programme of activities.
Today, Basher, et al (represented by P.Mule) and Arps discuss their work at 1pm, with a family drop-in from 1-3pm and Carr, Laird and Maloy will talk about their contributions at 3pm.
Tomorrow, from 11am to 1pm, three potters give a demonstration, Conland gives a tour from 11am, with artist talks at 1pm and 3pm.