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Heaven-Bound Sculpture and Chiffonier-Content Drawing

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Installation view of Alex and Sophia Laurie's exhibition, Augur of Mercury, at Grace. Photo: Sam Hartnett Installation view of Alex and Sophia Laurie's exhibition, Augur of Mercury, at Grace. Photo: Sam Hartnett Alex Laurie, Stave, 2024, steam bent White Ash, aluminium cookware, reclaimed Cedar, reclaimed Rimu, glass. Dimensions variable. Photo: Sam Hartnett Alex Laurie, Stave, 2024, detail, steam bent White Ash, aluminium cookware, reclaimed Cedar, reclaimed Rimu, glass. Dimensions variable. Photo: Sam Hartnett Alex Laurie, Stave, 2024, detail, steam bent White Ash, aluminium cookware, reclaimed Cedar, reclaimed Rimu, glass. Dimensions variable. Photo: Sam Hartnett Alex Laurie, Portent, 2024, steam bent White Ash, aluminium cookware, reclaimed Cedar, reclaimed Rimu, glass. Dimensions variable. Photo: Sam Hartnett Alex Laurie, Portent, 2024, detail, steam bent White Ash, aluminium cookware, reclaimed Cedar, reclaimed Rimu, glass. Dimensions variable. Photo: Sam Hartnett Alex Laurie, Satelitte, 2024, steam bent White Ash, aluminium cookware, reclaimed Cedar, reclaimed Rimu, glass. Dimensions variable. Photo: Sam Hartnett Alex Laurie, Satelitte, 2024, detail, steam bent White Ash, aluminium cookware, reclaimed Cedar, reclaimed Rimu, glass. Dimensions variable. Photo: Sam Hartnett Sophia Laurie, Tarry, 2024, pigment wax encaustic on hardboard, 300 x 210 -- 125 x 220 mm. Photo: Sam Hartnett Sophia Laurie, Till Eulenspiegel, 2024, pigment wax encaustic on hardboard, 300 x 210 -- 125 x 220 mm. Photo: Sam Hartnett Sophia Laurie, Upsilon, 2024, pigment wax encaustic on hardboard, 300 x 210 -- 125 x 220 mm. Photo: Sam Hartnett Sophia Laurie, Insect Prospectus, 2024, pigment wax encaustic on hardboard, 300 x 210 -- 125 x 220 mm. Photo: Sam Hartnett Sophia Laurie, New Bau, 2024, pigment wax encaustic on hardboard, 300 x 210 -- 125 x 220 mm. Photo: Sam Hartnett Installation view of Alex and Sophia Laurie's exhibition, Augur of Mercury, at Grace. Photo: Sam Hartnett Sophia Laurie, Pan, 2024, pigment wax encaustic on hardboard, 300 x 210 -- 125 x 220 mm. Photo: Sam Hartnett

You could argue there is a mystical quality going on with both these artists, even though the materials they are drawn too are hugely different. Alex is attracted to the heavens (and culinary preparations are perhaps an ethereal pathway), while Sophia likes a mysterious murky mist to enclose prosaic objects—and generate an intimate vibrancy within a more enclosed domestic setting.

Auckland Tamaki Makaurau

 

Alex and Sophia Laurie
Augur of Mercury


9 May - 8 June 2024

Hidden away amongst council construction site scaffolding, walls of boards and stretched plastic, in upper Pitt Street, Grace is a small new gallery my partner and I stumbled upon downtown, accidentally. The current show features work by two artists I thought I’d never seen before—Sophia and Alex Laurie. (Actually I’d seen Alex’s, ten years ago at Gloria Knight.) Sophia’s intimate linear drawings consist of wax-coated hardboard panels, and Alex’s arching sculptures are made of aluminium kitchen utensils, wood and ‘orbiting’ glass marbles, positioned along the top edges of the gallery’s MDF wall panels.

Sophia’s delicate honey-coloured wax-painted drawings are slightly reminiscent of the enormous wall drawings of British artist Michael Craig-Martin, except the dark thin-lined contours often subtly change colour. Like his works they exploit uncluttered internal and external rendered space, looking at juxtaposed and overlapping forms found in the profiles of fruit, shoes, gloves, hole-punches and perforated folded paper.

The coloured lines seem made with a tattooing gun, and the translucent wax creates a soft (very gentle) background field that optically caresses the image contours. Highly contemplative, glowing and sensual, these alluring slightly-tremulous drawings reel you in to scrutinise the spatial relationships found in carefully designed tools and clothing.

Alex’s three curved wooden sculptures are very different, much larger and more complex in the way they interact with the gallery space. They reference rainbows or possibly the proscenium arches of Romanesque churches, like the eighties sculptures and collages of Richard Reddaway. Beautifully crafted and assembled to reveal the inherent qualities of the types of wood utilised, Laurie’s works jocularly reference cooking and astronomy together, the processes of carpentry, stargazing, cosmology and childhood recreation. Each sculpture has its own number of curved parallel staves, and distinctive spacing between them.

You could argue there is a mystical quality going on with both these artists, even though the materials they are drawn too are hugely different. Alex is attracted to the heavens (and culinary preparations are perhaps an ethereal pathway; endorsed by a Divine covenant), while Sophia likes a mysterious murky mist to enclose prosaic objects—and generate an intimate vibrancy within a more enclosed domestic setting.

John Hurrell

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