Songbirds and Elephants for Sale: Two Works from the Collection

Songbirds and Elephants for Sale: Two Works from the Collection
Govett-Brewster Art Gallery
24 April to 7 June 2010

Don Driver
The Govett-Brewster is proud to present two highlights from its contemporary art holdings with Songbirds and Elephants for Sale: Two Works from the Collection, a major double installation reflecting the Collection’s focus on contemporary art from the Pacific region.

Admired New Plymouth artist Don Driver’s Elephants for Sale 1986 was inspired by the artist’s impressions of vividly painted elephants and the haunting sounds of traditional sitar music experienced during a 1985 trip to India. Los Angeles-based Pae White’s Songbirds 2001, alludes to migratory birds, suggesting both flight and stillness.

Commissioned as a Sculpture Project by the Govett-Brewster in 1986, Driver’s Elephants for Sale has been specially reconstructed – in close collaboration with Don and Joyce Driver – for the Gallery’s 40th year. This installation reveals an interest in the transformative power of found objects, textures, constructed forms and vibrant colour. This sustaining interest has become emblematic of Driver’s practice which is recognised as playing a pivotal role in the development of abstraction in twentieth century New Zealand art.

Pae White’s evocative work Songbirds – a cascading mobile made up of over 3000 brightly coloured circular paper discs – was acquired by the Govett-Brewster as a result of her 2002 Artist Residency with the Gallery. Also concerned with abstraction and the temporality of materials, imagination and perspectives, White’s work traverses boundaries between art, architecture and design and has gained increasing acclaim internationally.

Govett-Brewster Director Rhana Devenport says, “The suspended motion and ethereality suggested by both these works brings a sense of stillness and contemplation to our experience.”

“Created by artists from different generations, continents and artistic practices, this unlikely coupling creates an extended otherworldly environment where the symbolic power of music, abstraction, animal and bird life and the everyday, combine to create new imaginative possibilities.”

The Govett-Brewster holds a modest but important collection of contemporary visual art works. The Gallery’s long-held policy is to acquire works that represent current ideas and are significant in the development of the contemporary visual arts in the Pacific region. In 2010, the Gallery will be raising funds to expand and strengthen the Govett-Brewster Collection with a series of important new acquisitions by New Zealand and international artists to mark its fortieth year.

Songbirds and Elephants for Sale: Two Works from the Collection is on show at the Govett-Brewster from 24 April to 7 June 2010 and is presented with generous the support of Te Kairanga Wines and The Radio Network Taranaki.

Govett-Brewster Art Gallery