The work of three Christchurch based artists, Margaret Dawson, Mary Kay and Julia Morison are in an exhibition combining photography and painting which critically explores gender roles in New Zealand.
Curated by Shona Smith, the objective of Canterbury Belles is for the artists themselves to control a group exhibition. Rather than a curator imposing or inventing a unit after the work is made, this group is using a collective context to produce a thematic show that exploits similar concerns in the works.
Winner of the Moet & Chandon Art Award in 1990, Julia Morison’s work explores the body as a machine in relation to mental idealism and the construction of mythologies. Using ten cibachrome photographs mounted on lightboxes, Morison surrounds her own head with kitsch and medical objects in multiple exposures. She presents a medieval alchemy of the self.
Margaret Dawson disguises herself as various types of women from typical social roles, and photographs of herself. Each work is titled after the botanic name of common garden flowers. Dawson parodies domestic images to look at how images of women are constructed in history and through society.
Mary Kay creates frottages and watercolours that examine the cultural codes that construct the female role.
All three artists are working within a broad feminist framework that will have a general appeal operating at a level accessible to all gallery visitors. Together they document the position of women late this century, working to extend the boundaries of understanding of New Zealand cultural life as a whole.
→ Artists expose the niceties of convention, New Zealand Herald, 12-04-1990
→ Altered images carry powerful message, New Zealand Herald, 24-01-1991
→ Gender roles explored, Eastern Courier, 23-01-1991
→ Canterbury Belles, 1991, exhibition card