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Announcement
July 19, 2022

Kathy Barry & Sarah Smuts-Kennedy
Energy Work

Adam Art Gallery at Victoria University of Wellington

Kathy Barry, from the series "Search Engine for her Future Self", 2020–22. Watercolour and graphite pencil on paper, one of 12 drawings, 700 × 720 mm. Courtesy of the artist and Bowen Galleries. Photo: Stephen A’Court.

Sarah Smuts-Kennedy, Harmonies, 2016. 13 brass rods, glass, Herkimer diamonds, dimensions variable. Courtesy of the artist. Photo: Sam Hartnett.

Energy Work brings together two artists, Kathy Barry and Sarah Smuts-Kennedy, who give visual form to intuited energy fields that exceed the human sensorium. By allowing the notion that there are forces beyond our common experience, they connect us to the planet, the cosmos, and to alternative dimensions of time and space. Each artist has undergone processes of mental and physical training to attune themselves to enable a receptivity to these energies. They work with a deep sense of purpose. By opening themselves to the world in all its dimensions, they enable different and deeper relations between mind and world, spirit and nature that de-centre, re-orient and sensitise us to a multi-dimensional universe. Surveying their output over the past decade, this is—for both artists—their first substantial exhibition in a public institution. They have worked with Te Pātaka Toi Adam Art Gallery to select bodies of work and to present them in configurations especially devised for its spaces.

Kathy Barry is based in Te Whanganui-a-Tara Wellington. Since 2012 she has devoted herself fulltime to producing watercolour paintings in series. These map the energy fields that enfold and pass through her, taking shape as modulating coloured grids. These abstract drawings are realised by a suspension of conscious intention, whereby the artist relinquishes control to what she calls “a guidance system that is very Other but feels too like an aspect of [herself] that is beyond the usual understanding of self.” She has an MFA from Elam School of Fine Arts, University of Auckland (2004) and a Postgraduate Diploma in Art History from Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington (2001). Her works have been included in the 32nd Bienal de São Paulo in 2016, and in Believe not every spirit, but try the spirits, at Monash University Museum of Art (MUMA) in Melbourne in 2015. She staged Homeworld, a two-person exhibition with Isobel Thom, at Te Uru Waitākere Contemporary Gallery in 2014, after completing the artist residency at the McCahon House in West Auckland in 2012. She has regularly exhibited her work in solo exhibitions at Bowen Galleries in Wellington since 2013.

Sarah Smuts-Kennedy works with particular materials—glass, brass, pastel, paper—to produce largescale drawings and constructions that are attuned to the invisible energies in her environs. Her aim, as she puts it, is to create “a field of joy…that supports and nurtures life.” She completed her MFA at Elam School of Fine Arts, University of Auckland in 2012. She was the McCahon House Artist in Residence between September and December 2016. Recent solo exhibitions include Joy Field, Sumer Gallery, Tauranga, 2021; Light Language, Te Uru Waitākere Contemporary Gallery, Auckland, 2017; Frequency of the Earth, Artspace Aotearoa, Auckland, 2017; and Shape Analysis, RM, Auckland, 2013. Her social sculptural commission For the Love of Bees, 2016–ongoing, has triggered a resurgence of regenerative organic urban farms and community compost hubs across Aotearoa New Zealand. She lives and works north of Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland splitting her time between her studio and her garden.

Te Pātaka Toi Adam Art Gallery is the art gallery of Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington located in Wellington, the capital city of Aotearoa New Zealand. It is a forum for critical thinking about art and its histories as well as the professional structure within which the Victoria University of Wellington Art Collection is managed. The Gallery’s programmes aim to test and expand art form and disciplinary boundaries and create new opportunities to bring artists together and generate fresh conversations. The building is a remarkable architectural statement designed by the late Sir Ian Athfield, one of New Zealand’s foremost architects.

Energy Work is staged along with Barbara Tuck - Delirium Crossing, an exhibition of fourteen paintings developed as a partnership between Anna Miles Gallery, Ramp Gallery and Te Pātaka Toi Adam Art Gallery.

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