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12 May 2024 —
15 September 2024

Urban Legend

Off-road, Bena Jackson, 2023
Leaves
Hacky Sacks Close Up
Process
Bena Jackson, A Hedge II, 2023 (detail), pittosporum instant hedge, ply, fixings, coloured hairspray, acrylic. Image courtesy of the artist.
Bena Jackson, A Hedge II, 2023 Pittosporum instant hedge, ply, fixings, coloured hairspray, acrylic. Image courtesy of the artist.

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Urban Legend is an exhibition of newly commissioned work for the Te Tuhi foyer by New Zealand artist Bena Jackson.

The exhibition comprises of an arrangement of two long, finely-clipped Olearia paniculata box hedges, and a pile of hand-made ‘hacky sacks ’made from old bedsheets, table cloths, and scraps of discarded fabric. Observing the small dents in the surfaces of urban environments, Urban Legend sees an opportunity to highlight community actions where agency, potential, and tension are made visible.

Placed at the entrances into Te Tuhi, the two hedges partially disrupt the movement of people through the space. The hedges are marked with spray painted text, uplifted from messages the artist has seen taped to local lampposts or pinned on noticeboards; LOST CAT, FREE, FLATMATE WANTED. Here, Jackson builds links between notes on community noticeboards and those written with graffiti, considering the function of these two acts as one and the same. The hacky sacks mark a similar intrusion to the foyer area at Te Tuhi, the pile diminishing slowly or quickly over the course of the exhibition—trickling away from the gallery and into the hands, cars, and streets of visitors to Te Tuhi.

Benches and planter-boxes from the early development of Pakuranga Town Centre, one of the earliest “malls” in Aotearoa New Zealand, serve as a loose stylistic reference for the hedges in this exhibition. Jackson also acknowledges the “Hack Circle” in Ōtautahi Christchurch’s Cashel Mall. These mixed-use public sites, like many others, carry identities specific to their local communities, with lingering stories, urban legends and the physical buildup of marks left by people’s use.

By bringing outside elements of the everyday into the gallery space, Jackson invites the public to challenge the built world around us. The small acts of ingenuity, resourcefulness and resistance encouraged in Urban Legend, explore how people living in a city can work together to align environments more closely with their needs and beliefs.

About the artist

Bena Jackson lives and works in Te Whānganui-a-Tara Wellington, where she makes sculptures and installations. Her practice focuses on community actions in public space and urban environments. Jackson’s recent exhibitions include Castle Mall (2023) at RM Gallery, Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland; Camera phone (2021) at play_station space, Te Whānganui-a-Tara Wellington; and Bound in secret knots (2021) with Teresa Collins at Enjoy Contemporary Art Space, Te Whānganui-a-Tara Wellington. In 2023, she was the recipient of the Iris Fisher Scholarship.

Te Tuhi is open as usual during the Eastern Busway construction. 21 William Roberts Road, Pakuranga, is the best address to enter into navigation apps to guide you to the free parking at our door. Please call us on (09) 577 0138 if you have any questions.

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