Muse Gallery, Havelock North
28 August - 22 September


Now is an interesting time to be alive. Objectively, we are a species in decline, slowly eroding our fragile planet’s habitability through our inability to radically rethink attitudes to consumption, to put long term survival ahead of short term wealth acquisition. At the same time, we must face our own colonial past, reckon with the ingrained systems and biases that shape all our futures.

In these atomised days, we are all looking for a sense of place, of turangawaewae. When land ownership is contested and corporations freely destroy public resources, the simple act of claiming a place as home is layered with complexity.

These are the concerns of Susan Mabin’s latest multimedia exhibition. Inspired by the closest wild places where she feels at home, the Tukituki River, Te Mata Peak, the Tūtaekurī near Ōtātara – places familiar to urban nature lovers, this is an exercise in documenting process.

Beginning with a series of studies in oils, nominally landscapes and up-close examinations of nature, in reality these are a preparatory meditation on place and the play between light, texture and form. 

On her exploratory journeys, Mabin collected artefacts – remnants of nature both native and invasive, and man-made detritus. These materials inform her process, creating in the liminal space of intuition. 

Found flora combine elements of introduced species, bound together with pliable native flax to produce topographical pieces that speak to discomfort. The Pākehā artist reimagines the colonial act of mapping, while grappling with her continued privilege, an out-of-place blackberry held by her adopted whenua.

Oddly shaped ceramics utilise found objects in novel ways to produce pieces that hint at functionality while displaying a strange whimsy. There’s clear environmental commentary here, the trash and trappings of consumption reimagined in vessels destined to hold no water. 

A Sense of Place is an expansive exhibition showing the artist’s journey coming into relationship with place, provoking timely questions on the nature of belonging and our social, cultural and environmental impact on the places we call home.

Susan Mabin - A Sense of Place  




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