Thursday, May 14, 2009

Object of desire

Size is not something that puts off the determined art collector. The painting half-hidden by a door because it takes up an entire wall, the sculpture on a lean because it’s too tall to stand upright, the installation work still in its crate in the garage waiting for a space to come free – we’ve seen many of these let's-just-get-it-back-into-the-house-and-see-how-it-goes art works in collector's homes over the years.

If you want to catch a great example, head to the The New Dowse and catch Peter Robinson’s argumentative installation The Uncertainty Principle. Then figure out how you would fit that in with the TV, couch, coffee table and random friends. Forgetting its size for a moment (and that’s not easy, it being around 2.5 meters high, 5 meters wide, sticking out three quarters of a meter from the wall and including a suitcase full of small objects) imagine living with something this noisy. Hectoring placards, porno imagery and dramatic graphics all shouting for attention like CAPS in a text. But did that put Celia Dunlop off? Apparently not.

Celia Dunlop lived in Wellington and a good sample of her collection is on show at the New Dowse. It is a very distinctive concoction of jewellery, ceramic, glass and art with the determination to connect them all through personal identity. The Uncertainty Principle takes up most of one wall of the three spaces devoted to the exhibition. It is so unlike any of the other works that you wonder what inspired her to take such a leap, particularly as she was apparently unable to display it at home. Maybe it was a mix of panic that an important work might not be sold and then scrapped with the absolute certainty that this was something that had to be part of a her future. Whatever latched Celia Dunlop on to The Uncertainty Principle it had more than a touch of recklessness, a lot of courage, and absolutely no uncertainty.

Image: Peter Robinson’s The Uncertainty Principle pictured in the book Thrill me Every Day: The Celia Dunlop Collection which is on sale at the New Dowse.