Trish Clark Gallery is very pleased to re-open on 20 April after prolonged Covid restrictions with a solo exhibition, originally scheduled for 2021, by Marie Shannon. Arising out of the Tylee Cottage Residency in 2019, the photographs and videos of Sleeping Near the River were first seen in late 2021 at Whanganui’s Sarjeant Gallery, and in this 2022 presentation they are accompanied by four new photographic works.
Blurring fact and fiction, Shannon brings her characteristic sharp focus and dry wit to the quotidian domestic details of her temporary home. Large-format black and white photographs document both the architectural details of the historic cottage and Shannon’s scale-model reconstructions of them, re-engaging with the model-making so much a feature of her earlier works. Bookshelves, a dormer window, are posed and reconstructed. Corners congealed with layers of paint, a demurely curtained window, appear monumental and subtly luminous.
The Residency period also delivered the impetus for new video works. Fascinated by the meeting of two bodies of water, one saline and one fresh, the Tasman Sea and the Whanganui River, at the North Mole, Shannon captured the outgoing tide and the incoming waves as backdrops for two of her affecting text video works. Interested in the way the river might sit in her subconscious, she kept a dream diary “to observe where I went when I was asleep, now that I was no longer home.” Sleeping Near the River superimposes entries from the dream diary on its watery ground, in Shannon’s gently deadpan exploring of the recurring narratives and everyday corners where memory is located – in the edges of a curtain, in the recurring landscapes and circuitous logic of a dream.
Still Life, the series of four new works in the exhibition, continues this exploration of the mechanics of memory, at a further remove from the Residency period: the 1:5 scale models in white card translocate the old house by the river into the artist’s suburban studio.
Shannon represented New Zealand in 1996 at the Asia Pacific Triennale held at Queensland Art Gallery, and also exhibited that year in Sydney at the Australian Centre for Photography. Two years later Shannon showed at the Govett Brewster Gallery, New Plymouth, and the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne. In 2000 her work was included in the exhibition Fissures, shown at ACProjects, New York, curated by Connie Butler as part of the series, Five Shows, Five Curators. Shannon’s survey exhibition was developed and presented by Dunedin Public Art Gallery in 2017, later touring to Wellington, Christchurch and Auckland, while presentation at Australia’s MCA was unfortunately circumscribed by Covid-related museum closures. Developed from DPAG’s holdings of the artist’s work and her personal archive, the exhibition brought together the history and current concerns of this important artist.