On some levels, our relationship with home – or rather, the idea of home – has been challenged radically in the past few years. Through Covid lockdowns, we were compelled to spend more time at home; many have chosen not to return to work full-time, if at all. At the same time, a housing crisis in this country has been exacerbated by supply-chain issues that have caused major increases to the cost of living.
And while real-estate prices have plunged in the past year – causing many to re-evaluate, again, their relationship with their principal asset – housing affordability is still worse than it was before the pandemic lockdowns of 2020.
All of that makes fertile ground for Walls to Live Beside, Rooms to Own at the Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, a show featuring 38 works from the Chartwell Collection by artists from Aotearoa, Australia and beyond. It is showing until March 26.
The Chartwell Collection dates back 50 years to the 1970s – issues of housing have changed over the decades, and so have artists’ responses to them. Back in the 1970s, attitudes to the idea of home were changing as post-war thinking gave way to more modern ideas, but the response was still domestic at its core.
In the 21st century, the very idea of home is more problematic – more challenged – and that couldn’t be clearer than in two works commissioned for the show, one by Los Angeles-based New Zealand artist Fiona Connor and one by emerging New Zealand artist Tim Wagg.
In Connor’s Walls #1–#6 and #8, Connor recreates seven interior walls from around Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland and the Waikato, on which hang artworks by Chartwell Trust founder Rob Gardiner. Tim Wagg’s work, meanwhile, is a video portrait of a young real estate agent set against the backdrop of the commercialised landscape of central Auckland.
Elsewhere, responses are as varied as works using scaffolding and grids to sculptural walls, domestic furniture and home furnishings, and reflections on the psychological characteristics of interior spaces and the outdoors.
As a whole, the show asks questions about the way we occupy our interior spaces, and the meaning of our relationship with home. “Walls to Live Beside, Rooms to Own asks audiences to reflect on the evolving relationship with art and home life,” says curator Natasha Conland, “sharpening our attention to the material and social conditions of our housing environment.”
Walls to Live Beside, Rooms to Own
Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki
Cnr Kitchener and Wellesley Streets
Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland