Review on Rachel Taylor by Ralph Body Printed in the ODT 23/6/11

Rachel Taylor’s Castle has no doubt caught the attention of many people walking along Princes St. Located in a gallery’s front window, this candy-coloured mixed media construction recalls the extravagant whimsy of Spanish architect Antoni Gaudi. Closer inspection reveals that this mixture of castle and cathedral has been created from coloured cotton buds and drinking straws, built around an undisguised armature of cardboard toilet rolls. This intricate celebration of childlike fantasy is also strangely unsettling.

Its writhing forms seem as vulnerable as a house of cards. This same combination of beauty, playfulness, decorative pattern, vulnerability and anxiety also characterisesTaylor’s mixed media works on paper. These densely layered images, mixing drawing, painting and collage, both seduce and disturb. This is especially true of those works featuring children.

 In The Good Book, a series of blindfolded young girls are shown kneeling, praying and clutching books. What could be a perfectly innocent childhood game appears distinctly sinister, with the girls surrounded by a cluster of staring eyes, while a serpent slithers among the flowers. Other works feature bats, ghost and owls, the haunted house imagery of childhood fears, youthful figures engaging in sexual acts, giant insects and strangely psychedelic plant life.


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Conceived as a two-year project, ‘a gallery’ opened in February 2011 at 393 Princes Street, Dunedin and closed in September 2012. Strategically placed south of the center of town nestled between tattoo studios, sex shops and a needle exchange. What was integral in the selection of the gallery space was that it would be able to be viewed from the street through the street level floor to ceiling windows. This would allow the artists showing to be exposed not only to viewers visiting the gallery, but also those walking past, as a gallery was to represent artists that did not fit within the commercial gallery context or the so called experimental project space’s, this would be the best way to expose a particular group of artists selected by gallery curator/manager Jay Hutchinson, artists he respected and admired and felt were not being represented in the gallery scene at the time.

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