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 28/3/20

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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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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