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Filling the void

Updated: Jul 21, 2020

Airport carpets, bus seat covers, and waiting rooms may not incite creative inspiration in most people. But they provided a spark for recent Dunedin Art School graduate Megan Brady.

Megan Brady, 'The prime number few' (detail), Dunlop memory foam, 2018/19. From 'Dead Reckoning: New Work by Megan Brady and Oliver Perkins'.

In the terminology of navigation, ‘dead reckoning’ is a process of orienting oneself using the visual signs of the immediate surroundings without a compass or other wayfinding device.

'Dead Reckoning: New Work by Megan Brady and Oliver Perkins', is an exhibition that directly addresses the site of The Physics Room’s temporary home within the Christchurch Art Gallery precinct. The space is treated as both a destination and as a thoroughfare, and calls upon visitors' sense of navigation and orientation skills.

Megan has proposed an alternative route through the gallery. She employs soft sculpture and sound to 'slow navigation and induce contemplation.'

Exploration of space was also a theme in Megan's recent work, A quiet corner where we can talk, which was part of Four, New Art from Dunedin at Dunedin Public Art Gallery late last year. She was initially amused by the furnishings of transitory public spaces, designed for many of people to move through. ‘I came to speculate that the aesthetics of these spaces had to be stripped right back to be completely inoffensive in order to potentially please everybody.’

The gallery space used for the show had the same public and transitory character that had sparked Megan's interest, which she wanted to incorporate into her piece. The artist knew her work needed to physically fill the entire gallery space, but the need for the custom wall-to-wall carpet that eventually became her show became clear to her only following a vivid dream.

Megan Brady, 'A quiet corner where we can talk'

At 94 square metres – the size of many New Zealand homes – the project was no small undertaking. ‘The making of the carpet was really, really physically demanding. The process of making can become incredibly isolating sometimes and the expectation I had set for myself to fill the space wall-to-wall had no room for compromise.’ The carpet eventually took two months to complete, using a hand-tufting gun to create it in 1 x 2-metre panels. Megan also incorporated a musical element, described as ‘furniture music,’ which she composed during the time when she was creating the carpets, into the work.

‘The carpets I came to think of as void fillers, designed to be seen but not actively looked at − akin to elevator music, made to be heard but not actively listened to.’ A quiet corner where we can talk, she says, uses the physical gallery space and its surroundings to ‘create a very particular space… where the viewer is made very aware of their body, a space that feels familiar yet strange.’

Dead Reckoning: New Work by Megan Brady and Oliver Perkins

The Physics Room, Worcester Boulevard, Christchurch

Until 17 Feb 2019

First published ArtZone #76


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