Bronwen Gray

Artist statement:

Babushka

These sculptures were installed at the Atherton gardens housing estate, which is located on the corner of Gertrude and Brunswick st in Fitzroy, 2002. They were installed in response to the theme of nurturing; the intention was to create art that juxtaposed against the harsh, angular tower blocks that make up this inner city housing estate.

They also represent three generations of a family and were installed at Atherton Gardens at the time the estate turned thirty. There are many flats on the estate that contain three generations of families living under the one roof, with two of these generations never having known any other way of living, except what the housing estate has to offer. The dolls visually represent and silently challenge the Government’s belief that whatever they thought they were doing to alleviate poverty three generations ago, clearly nothing has changed.

The Fence

This fence was installed at a community centre located in South Auckland in 2010. Residents from the local area were invited to draw onto a fence pailing a symbol that represents themselves or their culture. The images were then carved out of the timber to create this unique design, giving us a snap shot of who lives in the area. More than 150 local residents participated in the creation and installation of the fence.

As a suburb that is made up of 50% urban Maori and 50% Pacific Islanders, restoring a sense of cultural identity and pride is acknowledged as being a significant contributor to the health and well being of Maori and Pacific Island peoples.

Rata vine mosaic columns

These mosaics were created as part of an urban regeneration program and facilities upgrade in south Auckland. The intention was to upgrade the roundabout, which had become so old and worn that cars just drove over it. The sculptures were created with the assistance of about 150 local residents aged from 5 – 60. The images that have been mosaiced are of the rata vine flower, which also the name of the suburb where they are located.

Matchboxes

When I was a child and annoying my mother, she used to give me and my sister a matchbox each and tell us to go and fill it with as many things as possible that we could find lying around the house. The object of the game was to see who could fit the most objects into this tiny space. What started as a game became an art form, as I have many of them now, each representing a given moment in time, a piece of my history. I open them fondly and touch each object, no matter how insignificant and I am often amazed at how quickly they take me back to a place in time from my past. Little time capsules with hidden messages. I note that at times I was vulnerable the boxes are quite small, at other times, when I have been more confident they are large, jam packed with artefacts. They capture not only stories about my past but provide snapshots of eras, which resonate with my friends, my family and the communities to which I have been a member of.