Carole Shepheard’s is the fourth in a series of exhibitions (after Jim Vivieaere, Cecilia Parkinson and Maureen Lander) that make use of the Carnegie Cases, borrowed from the Ethnology Department of the Auckland Museum.
The refurbishment of the Museum’s displays was funded by the Carnegie Foundation in 1929, with new state of the art cases offering freestanding displays for the first time. The Edwardian appearance of the brass and wood construction provides the participating artists with an elaborate show-case with a heavy aesthetic history.
Shepheard’s work Domestic Trophies is about personal, cultural and public achievement and the value placed on this by society as a whole. The Olympic games with its emphasis on medals, on being first, second or third and the ignored invisible rest provides a basis for this work.
Paralleling this is an interest in cultural artifacts and the exchange practices which operate in many cultures. Domestic Trophies, rewards that do not fit the norm, are objects that are exchanged, but are not considered to be of any real value.
‘The materials and objects chosen for this installation move in the unrecognised realm of the familiar, the domestic, the ordinariness of a daily existence. For many cultures gold was a prized exchange material, precious but traded for very little. It was the exchange itself that was the most important aspect. Many of the materials I have used are commodities, function as money, but more importantly for me are endowed with social, mysterious properties.’ - Carole Shepheard
Domestic Trophies uses the cushion as the vehicle for the ritual presentation and the wreathe, lei or necklace as the award object. The displacement of value, using objects we conceive of as low value as trophies, highlights the problems of a society where the ultimate goal pivots around being better than others rather than being the best one can.