The Whangarei Art Museum has an exciting new exhibition on, Elemental, by local artist Lee Brogan. Brogan creates sculpture, collage, photography and printmaking and her recently exhibited work has been in cast glass, pate de verre glass and mixed media. She is one of only a few proponents worldwide using the ancient Egyptian technique of pate de verre as a sculptural discipline, a process she developed herself and which has won her awards. Elemental brings together pate de verre sculptures, digital prints and Brogan's images come to life with a new venture into video works that permeate the gallery with their sounds.

Brogan has a fascination with the Celtic tradition of "elementals", the spirit-beings said to dwell within the natural world, and the universal, instinctual feeling that water is a living being. Water is essential to life, but water also holds the power to mesmerise us with its beauty, to hypnotise us with its rhythm, to calm, sooth and reconnect us with our bodies and minds. Water interacting with light reveals the universe within.

Stone is the other fundamental element in these works. Brogan's ancestors were gum-diggers in the Kawakawa area and she feels a close connection to the Bay of Islands. The local landscape is strewn with volcanic rock, half buried or jutting from the ground. These works originate within a few hundred metres from her home on the Purerua peninsula, where large volcanic boulders are still being uncovered, hidden in the undergrowth.

"As above, so below"


Through altered and enhanced imagery we slip sideways into a parallel universe, closely aligned to our own, but where the microcosm becomes the macrocosm and vice versa. We are never quite sure what we are seeing so the imagination searches for meaning in the abstract.

These works are deliberately ambiguous, water could be stone, stone could be water, ice, mist, ocean. Reflections in the water morph into abstract patterns in the presence of wind. The moving image work is abstract and impressionistic, with layers of sound that create a meditative quality as the elements move, merge and dissipate to the rhythm of natural forces. What is real, what is imagined and is there a difference?

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You can also see Lee Brogan's upcoming show Alchemy which opens at the Turner Centre in Kerikeri on January 17, 5.30pm and runs until March 30, supported by the Dalton Trust.