Persistence in Bloom & Steeped
Sharnaé Beardsley & Renée Pearson
04 Apr – 29 Apr 2023
Ōtautahi artists Sharnaé Beardsley and Renée Pearson take inspiration from the terra and flora of our surrounding environments, as their transformative practices consider a uniquely human curiosity for, and desire to craft and control the world we inhabit. Imaginative translations from Persistence in Bloom and Steeped bring an alien beauty and uncanny familiarity to painterly botanic records and carved artefacts.
Persistence in Bloom
The enduring art form of botanical painting is reimagined and enlivened in works by Sharnaé Beardsley, invigorating conversations around intertwined art tradition and horticultural histories. Referencing both decorative flower studies, long the ‘proper’ domain of female painters, and the selective breeding of species like orchids for form and colour, the artist comments on human preoccupations with the identification, classification, and modification of the natural world.
Persistence in Bloom offers a suite of contemporary cultivars; orchid blooms are imaginatively flattened and richly pigmented, their markings exquisite against bright pastel grounds. Each brilliant freckle and filament is teased out and meticulously inked, brought to life in acrylic gouache on canvas. With their existing symmetry exaggerated, these floral subjects become seductive yet sinister symbols, hinting at implications for human-nature interactions and evolutionary secrets laid bare.
Renée Pearson looks to the earth beneath our feet, crafting changeful New Zealand stone to consider relationships between people, place, and practice. Formed under fantastic heat and pressure, greywacke comprises the largest part of Aotearoa’s basement rock – the foundation of our land from the central mountain passes of the Southern Alps to the plains of Marlborough, Canterbury, and Otago. In Renée Pearson’s hands, these variable rocks undergo still further metamorphosis, fashioned into fragmented stone shadows of everyday objects and occasional artefacts. Sleek heirloom vessels foreground the familiar rhythms and rituals of preparing and sharing a warming drink, becoming touchstones for feeling and connection.
Pieces document the artist’s ongoing explorations of identity. Surfaces are incised with patterns adapted from south Indian kolam(designs traditionally drawn before domestic entranceways), further questioning the treasured items and practices that make up concepts of ‘home’. Veined with minerals like quartz, and engaging with ancestral decorative arts, these works resonate with a delight in discovery – of material potentiality, and of personal identity.