(adj). slightly open
(v.) unlatched, unlocked, unsecured
Light that leaks through a door, sending mixed messages of whether it is about to or supposed to be closed, securing what or who is inside, or whether it is about to be opened further, allowing what or who out…
AJAR is a work that has transformed as it has travelled through time and space, since March 2017, when I was approached to be part of Crux*Te Punga, a creative response to the demolition of the Central Police building in Ōtautahi, 2014-2015.
Initial ideas were shaped by the text found throughout the holding cells, from the formal, instructional signage of the Police through to the scratchings and mark-making by those held in custody. Further thinking on the laments penned by those detained drew me to explore the idea of time spent alone in a place that is undesirable, inhospitable. It makes sense to document one’s fears and frustrations and, on occasion, one’s apologies – a ‘final say’. I began to develop ideas around what happens over TIME in this kind of SPACE; a punitive space with no window, no clock, no external reference to time passing.
With confirmation that the exhibition will be going into the Jelling Gallery at CoCA, the form and layout of the collection of works consolidated. A long space with an industrial ceiling that seems lower than it perhaps is, with just the one natural light source, it gives me the feeling of a tunnel, a cave; the environment is perfect with regard to the scale and aesthetic of AJAR.
Central will be a structure made from concrete blocks, topped by steel. This acts as a plinth for smaller sculptures, and stands also as a shrine. As an oversized bed, while materially incorrect, it offers an unpleasant place to lay one’s head. Some of the small sculptures and a hanging that will cover an entire wall have been created using retired prison-issue bedding.
Cottage-framed cross-stitch works on the opposite wall link with experiences of men who, throughout time, have been making and doing crafts, whether during recovery – my maternal grandfather, while in hospital, learned to knit socks for soldiers – or while incarcerated.
Other exhibition items will include a series of smaller ‘personal’ sculptures, ‘homewares’, abstract paintings, and a cell door from the custodial block at 48 Hereford Street. These reference the everyday, the mundane, the lived experience of us all, questioning concepts of freedom versus captivity.
AJAR is an ongoing examination of what we do to pass TIME that is plentiful in SPACE that is not of our choosing.
Wayne Youle (Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Whakaeke, Ngāti Pākehā) was born in Wellington in 1974. He gained a Bachelor of Design from the Wellington Polytechnic School of Design in 1999.
Youle’s work has been shown in public gallery exhibitions including:
Youle’s work is held in both public and private collections throughout New Zealand and overseas including Te Papa Tongarewa, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki, Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu, The Sir James Wallace Collection, Chartwell Collection, and Wellington City Council Collection. In 2010 Youle was the Rita Angus Resident, in 2012 was the SCAPE/ Artspace, Sydney Resident and in 2014 was the Friends of Pataka Resident.
Youle currently works and lives with his partner and his three sons in North Canterbury.