Simon Attwooll talks about art work from his series THE KIDS ARE ALRIGHT that will be in the exhibition SURE TO RISE

The premeditated school photograph documents a person in that time but doesn’t normally function in any other way. The ambiguous context in which these images are displayed initially feels uncomfortable. We feel empathetic toward these strangers on display as we have all sat in the familiar school photograph setting yet there is an interesting discordance in the way we are familiar with the school photograph construct yet it is also generic and distant.

In The Kids Are Alright the source material came from a deceased estate being auctioned on Ebay. The late school teacher had innocently collected photos of children that she taught and documented the name of each child and date on the back. We are used to seeing these reference images in the media most commonly to describe something negative. I purchased these photos around the time of the Sandy Hook Massacre where one of the teachers sacrificed her life to hide the children from the gunman and a collection of cropped school photos were broadcast of the ones who weren’t so lucky.

This work instead celebrates the people who overcome societal failings in order to give so selflessly and acknowledge something positive. The work challenges the initial face value and assumptions we attach to familiar scenarios and suggests alternate readings.


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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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