TRANSFORMED review by James Dignan Printed in the ODT 19/1/12

The title of Benjamin King’s exhibition at A Gallery carries multiple layers of meaning. On the purely prosaic level, “Transformed” refers to the recycled material used by the artist for his art. The title also refers more spiritually to the biblical themes touched on in the exhibition, and the eternal conflict between the soul and the flesh. Transformation is also key to the artist’s inspiration – a specific biblical passage in which Jacob wrestles with a mysterious figure, after which his name was changed to Israel. On a more playful level, the title has further meaning – the science-fictional figures which the artist has created are strongly reminiscent of the “Transformer” toys which convert from one form to another. In King’s works, two giant figures stand opposed ready to lock together in battle. The wooden figures are luridly coloured steampunk robots whose forms were inspired by an old tabletop wrestling game, and they have been well crafted with humour and attention to detail. A third sculpture hangs on a wall nearby. Created from card coated in sand, it shows a meticulous aerial fly-by of Jerusalem, yet in the company of the two robots it appears almost as a science-fictional space battle-cruiser. Again, the attention to detail makes this a very attractive work.


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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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