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The archaeology of the discarded, forgotten and thrown away. 21/2/19 at The Suter Art Gallery Te Aratoi O Whakatu

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Review By James Dignan on Jay Hutchinson’s exhibition”on the way to work” at Olga Gallery, 32 Moray Place, Dunedin (originally printed in the O.D.T 28/3/190

Jay Hutchinson latest exhibition at Olga Gallery continues his ongoing exploration of the urban environment with a sonnet to detritus. The artist has photographed litter he has seen on the roadside during his daily commute, and used these photographs as a basis for embroidered works on printed canvas.

Hutchinson has long been fascinated with urban life and the borderline between art and pollution. Some of his misspent youth was involved in tagging, the large and often baroquely embellished graffiti signatures often seen around a city.

As such, his move to professional art has seen him questioning the often arbitrary line between high and low art, and also has led him to the understanding that commercial branding is in itself a form of professional tagging.

Even after a product has been consumed, its logo-adorned wrapper will often be found as roadside litter while simultaneously continuing to advertise its product.

Hutchinson has subverted the idea of rubbish being an unattractive pollutant byproduct of commercialism by reclaiming it as art and presenting it in the gallery space using that most delicate and even genteel of media, embroidery.

What was literally throwaway has been elevated to something of commercial and aesthetic value, and this has produced a pleasing, thought-provoking and wryly witty exhibition.

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24 Hours at the Sweatshop x Company of. Strangers

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24 Hours at the Sweatshop x Company of. Strangers

24 Hours at the Sweatshop is a 24 performance work where a single worker will cut, sew and print T-Shirts in a simulated sweatshop setting. The project aims to highlight the labour involved in producing an every day product that everyone is familiar with as well as a critique on fast-fashion. T-shirts can be purchased @companystore through a donation to woman’s refuge #companyofstrangers #24hoursatthesweatshop #idfashion #fastfashion #agallerypresents

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On the way to work

An exhibition of new hand stitched works by Jay Hutchinson based on debris and pieces of trash he collected on his way to work. Discarded pieces of rubbish are photographed and printed onto silk and hand stitched.

 

The exhibition opens on Friday the 8th of March at 5:00pm at Olga Gallery, 32 Moray Place, Dunedin and will run until March 26, 2019

 

Thanks to New New New Corporation for generously suppling the exhibition opening with their awesome product

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A. Caldwell, A Recipe Book (an a gallery presents limited publication)

Allan Caldwell kept a small black note-book with recipes collected during his professional life as a baker for Ernest Adams. It was discovered by Julia Loach (Allan’s great-granddaughter) and her husband Jay Hutchinson in 2018 inside a box in the shed of the house Jules grew up in. Inside the recipe book were also included hundreds of clippings of letters and other correspondences to newspapers which Allan painstakingly collected after publication.
Clippings, pages and page-spreads were photographed by Jay for A Gallery Presents. Some attempt has been made to give thematic order to the letters and they are reproduced here along with page spreads from the recipe book.
copies of the book are available from agallerypresents@gmail.com for $35 including postage (within in New Zealand)

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A. Caldwell, a Recipe Book (an a gallery presents limited publication)

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“The archaeology of the discarded, forgotten and thrown away.” At the Aigantighe Art Gallery in Timaru 15/12/18 – 27/1/18

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Review of “two cups and a Jimmy’s mince and cheese pie wrapper” at the Blue Oyster Art Project Space, by Rosemary Overell published by Un-Projects

 

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‘… and they actually still eat meat pies here! Yes – the women too … yes meat pies …’

Meat pies.

That’s a little #flashbackfriday from me calling my sister? My mother? Anyway, calling somebody after I first moved to Dunedin. They still eat meat pies.

Away from the spaces of silently moving, contemptuous waitresses, with kohl-lined, sad-girl eyes serving ‘takes’ on breakfast burritos and variations on fermented food, a meat pie was like something from another planet.

‘… it’s how they eat it too! With no shame!

Meat pies.

My amusement was tinged with my own shame. My gag reflex triggered by memories of Stimoril chewy, rounders, and a girl called Holly (another #flashbackfriday) sitting in front of the tuck shop at primary school. She peeled the top off her ‘Four’n Twenty’, squeezed in oodles of tomato sauce and used the pastry as a scoop. “It’s pie soup,” she said. I went to Holly’s house for a sleepover and realised she was poor.

What we think about meat pies can tell us a lot about a person.

Apparently, Americans hate meat pies – they find them “gross” according to The Independent. We antipodeans though … do we have no shame?

Maybe people in Melbourne do eat meat pies. Maybe the contemptuous waitresses on Gertrude Street secretly scarf down a pie from the 7/11 on their break. But know it’s shameful.

It’s how you eat it. You don’t eat it like Holly. You don’t eat it if you’re arty. Or a muso.

Do you?

Jay Hutchinson’s exhibition at the Blue Oyster art project space in Dunedin features a meat pie. Well a signifier of it. A ‘Jimmy’s’ pie wrapper. There’s even grease marks and gravy stains on it. It’s an index for the meat pie. In two drinks and a Jimmy’s mince and cheese pie wrapper, Hutchinson plucked debris from the waterfront area of Dunedin and put it in the gallery.

Oh, we’ve heard this one before.

Collective eyes roll.

It’s called grunge art, or even readymade art, Dunedin. It’s been done to death all over the world.

Does Dunedin have no shame?

Well – actually – maybe you haven’t heard this one before. That’s because Hutchinson does something different than simply placing the everyday in the gallery and asking ‘Well – is it art?’

He has recreated Dunedin’s detritus (a Wendy’s and McDonald’s soft drink cup and the pie wrapper) in digitally printed silk and carefully embroidered over the details. With the marks and stains recreated on the wrappers and the precision of Hutchinson’s stitching, you’re almost tricked into thinking this is just rubbish on a plinth. In fact, inside the plinth, lying beneath the colourful fast food wrappers, is a similarly stitched recreation of the road where the debris was scattered. The gravel and painted yellow lines also have grease marks on them. So, these are peculiar indexes. Maybe they are icons? Just stand-ins; for pies, softies and the tired, puckered, bitumen of Dunedin’s docks.

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But then there’s the rusty wire fence. That’s the first thing you see when you walk in. That’s the real thing. Hutchinson cut down a chunk of the fence from the same area. But what your eye is drawn to is the Jimmy’s pie wrapper ‘caught’ in the bottom of fence. It’s how he found it.

It looks as though it’s about to flutter away! said a friend standing next to me. Indeed, it did. Even in the still space of the gallery these icons – likenesses – seemed to work as indexes. I mean this how Peirce meant ‘index’ – as a representation which corresponds to some sort of brutal fact. The unrelenting gale around the silos and warehouses of the docks … well that’s a fact.

But Hutchinson’s work doesn’t just refer to, or index, the grid around Jetty, Jutland and Sturdee Streets in Dunedin. Peirce talks about indexicality as bearing a spatio-temporal connection between the ‘sign-vehicle token’ (say the objects in a gallery, which look like they are gusting away) and the ‘entity’ to which they refer (the wind). I like this word entity. Because it means these ‘tokens’ – wrappers, a rusty wire fence, gravel on the road don’t just refer to a ‘thing’ – it might encompass experience too (though maybe in a thingified form … but that’s another article).

The rusty fence’s connection is clear. It is from the site. But the wrappers … well, thinking about spatio-temporal contingencies, Hutchinson plays with time here. We have the fastness of takeaway food.

Down the gob. With no shame!

I’ve never really had a soft spot for Peirce. One of those American pragmatists. My eyes roll. I like Saussure. But Peirce has some interesting stuff to say about indexes of class in language. You sort of have to tangle up Saussure with Bourdieu and Lacan to get something about class (a good entanglement nonetheless!). Peirce reckoned we index our class by how we use signs. A no brainer. Maybe. But interesting in terms of meat pies.

A meat pie is fast, classed, food. Down by the docks, Jimmy’s pies are gobbled by men in high-vis who slap down $4 at a shop that sells chop-chop under the counter. Someone’s smoko snack.

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But embroidery is a slow practice. Hutchinson’s labour is indexed through the detail of his needlework. A different kind of labour to the person eating a Jimmy’s pie. Embroidery is also gendered. We can’t forget the frankie set. Don’t worry, you can buy frankie in New Zealand. They know how to craft here. Tiny embroidered monsters are for sale in some of the trendier shops.

Hutchinson doesn’t seem the embroidering type. When I went along to his artist talk, it ended up a workshop. Dressed in skater shorts and a baseball cap, Hutchinson distributed embroidery hoops to the (mostly women) participants and took them on a walk to Jutland Street. They were looking for signs of a fast, working life. But learning a slow skill to replicate them.

He doesn’t seem the embroidering type. But nor does fast food seem to match the type of embroidery the frankie set admire. Sure, they might do that sort of twee ‘clash’ thing where they embroider ‘fuck the patriarchy’ in a cursive font … but …

Well. My eyes roll.

That makes me think about meat pies. About my response to meat pies. About my class index.

No shame.

It’s funny that Peirce first described the relationship between an indexical sign and its signified as that between a murderer and their victim. It’s a brutal reference to reality. Sometimes a pie wrapper can do that to you. It can remind you of some pretty nasty parts of you. It can be brutal out there.

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Review of POST DUNEDIN GRAFFITI at Eskdale Gallery by James Dingham published in the ODT 30/8/18

”Post Dunedin Graffiti” revisits five former Dunedin graffiti artists to find out how their careers have evolved in recent years. The paths they have taken have diverged, but the remaining traces of their street styles provide a common thread to the exhibition.

The pseudonymous Shaded Skull’s career has led him to tattoo art, perhaps a natural extension of his strongly graphic drawing style. In contrast, Tom Mackie and Sean Duffell’s work has led to more gallery-based careers. Duffell provides an intriguing installation piece and a Black-on-black painting which harks back to his most notable graffiti creation. Mackie’s work mixes pre-Columbian artefacts with modern pop culture to comment on the immutable nature of art.

Nigel Roberts also looks to art history, with a strong work harking back to a golden age of sign-writing before the advent of modern digital technology. Jay Hutchinson completes the exhibition with an obsessively embroidered replica of a tagged road sign which raises the ”low art” of graffiti tagging to a higher level.

The exhibition’s title is deliberately ambiguous. These are the post-Dunedin works of former graffiti artists, but the lack of a hyphen suggests that it is also more than a slight hint of an instruction to street art’s next generation.

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