Globe-trotting Kiwi printmaker Prue MacDougall is a visual story teller. Each work she creates is part of a series of narratives, playing round with concepts and eclectic mixtures of widely varied images to express an idea or emotion she thinks, feels, or remembers.
For her third exhibition in Pātaka’s Toi Galley, Prue has created a series of works that explore the European heritage that is part of the genealogical makeup of most New Zealanders. Using her recently uncovered maternal family tree, Prue explores themes of journeying, both physically across the world and chronologically through time, and the effect such journeying has on one’s sense of identity.
She fashions these ideas into nostalgic cameos in which one’s present reality reconnects with the past and is reevaluated. In so doing, Prue uses her personal experiences of tracing and reviewing whakapapa to metaphorically reflect the blended bloodlines that flow through the veins of most New Zealanders.
Our ‘Kiwi’ cultural identity helps us negotiate who we are as individuals and shapes our understanding of the world. Myth and reality often become blurred in the visual telling of these stories; narratives of many strange events become embroidered with retelling and, in Prue’s case, with distinct feminist undertones. Whether fact or fiction, it is the wonder of the story itself that becomes most important.
Prue has long been fascinated with ephemera and antique curiosities that reference earlier times. Like a magpie, she browses junk shops and bottom draws for bizarre bits of bling and trolls through natural history museums of the world. Using these as her starting point, Prue creates complex collages which highlight the layering of memory, time and travel. At times playful and whimsical, at other times serious and introspective, the work embodies the dynamic relationships found in families and institutions. The touch of Victorian illustrations evident in some of the images, gives them a quaintly archaic feel.
recently featured in Art New Zealand Spring 2019