Southland artist showcases work in the capital

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Southland artist Daegan Wells.

SOUTHLAND-BASED artist Daegan Wells’ latest solo exhibition, Bush Coat, opened at Enjoy Contemporary Art Space in Wellington last week.

Enjoy Contemporary Art Space assistant curator Simon Gennard said Wells’ exhibition featured new sculptures, a moving image and textile work. Wells had playfully examined the social history of wool production and craft in New Zealand and the role natural materials had in our shared and personal histories.

While at his Summer Artist in Residence at the Rita Angus Cottage in Thorndon, Wellington, earlier this year, Wells had researched the carpets and soft furnishings in Parliament, Gennard said.

The exhibition had two main points: the memory of a woollen bush coat worn as a child, which had been made for him by his grandmother on a loom using hand-spun wool and Wells also focused on the 2017 campaign by NZ First leader Winston Peters for woollen carpets (since replaced by synthetic imports) to be put back on the floor of government buildings and state houses.

Wool was entangled in New Zealand’s history, economy and visions of settler identity, Gennard said.

Drawing on the carpet plans of government spaces in Wellington, Bush Coat explores the national symbolism and myth-making of wool, and the decline of its local production since the 1980s.

Against this backdrop, Wells also considers the many personal resonances of wool and fibre craft within our lives.

He draws from his own experiences, including an ongoing mentorship with a Southland-based spinner and weaver.

  • Wells’ exhibition runs until September 6.
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