Chroma - the intensity of colour. New paintings by Carole & Holly Shepheard

Posted by Erin O'Malley on

Oscar Wilde said 'Mere colour, unspoiled by meaning, and unallied with definite form, can speak to the soul in a thousand different ways'

We live in a world filled with colour. Most of the time we just absorb the colours we are surrounded by and subconsciously respond to the feelings they generate within us at any moment in time or given environment. Some colours have come to represent states of being, blue translates to peace, green - harmony/tranquility, red - danger. We can have a colour we are immediately drawn to, we experience an immediate visceral response to this colour and sometimes the opposite is also true. Recently at the 'Light from Tate' exhibition at Auckland Art Gallery, I stood within the black interior of the work by Anish Kapoor and felt physically ill. I was overwhelmed with a terrible sense of the colour or actually absence of colour, absence of light seeping into my soul. The response came upon me immediately and took me completely by surprise. I backed out of the work and had to physically shake the colour from me.

Wassily Kandinsky said 'Colour hides a power still unknown but real, which acts on every part of the human body.'

Both Carole Shepheard and Holly Shepheard explore this power in their current bodies of work.

The paintings in this exhibition CHROMA focus on highly saturated colour, exploring its depth and intensity. Both artists work in a non figurative way and through their work recognise the subliminal connections we have to 'place' and the role colour/chroma plays on our way of being. Colour, composition and meaning are symbiotic in these works. Both artists have used layers of concentrated colour to create feelings of immersion and entanglement.

We're very excited to be showing the work of these two artists. Not only is this show going to be a wonderful visual conversation between two experienced artists but for me it is also a conversation between mother and daughter. It is about heritage, the passing on of knowledge and the joy found in the process. It is about the daughter Holly who has watched her mother Carole, all her life, live and breathe her craft while bringing up and caring for her family. This way of 'being' has been embraced and explored by Holly but redefined in her own way. She has found her own creative path and voice.

Carole Shepheard is a well known printmaker and painter. Holly Shepheard an exhibiting artist who has continued working with ink and resin, a medium she discovered at Elam as a painting student. 

Exhibition Tuesday 16th May - Saturday 3rd June.

We invite you to the opening event on Saturday 20th May 3 - 5pm, all welcome.

Artists' Statement  CHROMA / CHROMA 

“Dance the orange” Rainer Maria Rilke

For both of us colour has been a language, a means of expression and communication. Challenged initially by science, Victoria Finlay in ‘Color’ tells us colours don’t actually exist and our minds create them as an interpretation of vibrations. They are classified as ‘solid, liquid, gas or vacuum’, but as painters this does not take us that far. For Holly and myself, colour is a way to express feelings and moods, but also how we have embedded colour firmly into our creative practice as a metaphor for what we are experiencing at a particular time. It’s not just about observing beautiful things, shapes, objects or motifs, it’s about who we are and how our lives have been affected by familial, national and global events.

I began this mahi at the start of Covid, tentative and unsure of what isolation would be like and if I could maintain my practice with little contact with others. One plus of this self preservation however was a certain freedom, the other was the pervading sense that individuals had changed, families had changed, the world had changed - significantly. I was living in Kāwhia, Holly on Rakino Island, both of us aware that it might be some time before we saw one another. So we settled into another existence where making art was a choice, but not an urgent requirement. I experimented with cold wax and oil paint, then waterless lithography, Holly with resin and alcohol dyes to create depth and transparency. Both trajectories brought us together for this first shared exhibition, and an opportunity to see what each had made under the banner of CHROMA.

Both bodies of works use a high key palette, sometimes translucent, sometimes opaque. For Lost in Space I began by finding out more about pigments and colour (Holly had always been there!) and how certain colours were connected to my growing up. The pink marshmallow on my aunt’s shortbread, the moss on mountain rocks, the inky blue of the night sky. Holly was made aware of the clarity of the water she swam in, the changing weather patterns, the amazing Rakino sunsets and the unfettered flora that covered the island. Shapes that moved under water, or behind glass, or in a misty dream. For me it was a journey into space trying to understand the unfathomable concept of endlessness. The planets, stars, black holes, meteors, space junk and shooting stars are all there but alien to me physically and cognitively. Our shared approach, was to place this information into the imagination and see what emerged as we experimented with materials and processes.

Whether pigments have been dug from the ground, dyes squeezed from a bug or neon created in a laboratory, the importance of colour to describe, provoke and express a feeling is paramount. Experiencing the visual alchemy of colour is exciting and rewarding, and keeps us in the ‘game’.

Carole Shepheard & Holly Shepheard May 2023

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