Te Manawa is spooky today

BY MICHELLE DUFF
Last updated 12:40 20/06/2009
gallery
JONATHAN CAMERON/The Manawatu Standard
SPOOKY: A mother and daughter check out artists' interpretations of spiritualism at Te Manawa's spooky new exhibition.

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A ghostly figure flitting past the wall, a giant ouija board made from skulls, a psychic experiment to test teenage girls.

When Wellington artist and curator Pippa Sanderson asked 13 artists to create works on spiritualism, only telepathy could have helped her predict the results.

The Blue Room, a series of New Zealand artists' interpretations of the supernatural and occult, opens at Te Manawa today.

It is only the second time the exhibition has been on display since opening in a secluded basement gallery in Dunedin last year.

Sanderson put the show together after stumbling across a tattered old copy of The Blue Room in a secondhand bookstore.

Written by renowned spiritualist Clive Chapman, the book documents a series of seances and psychic experiments undertaken during the 1920s at "the blue room", a house in Dunedin.

Sanderson already had a historical interest in the supernatural her mother's side of the family were all spiritualists. "They had seances in the living room," she said.

"It's something that's always been there I've never seen a ghost, but I've kind of heard ghosts or spirits, giving messages I suppose you'd say."

She was interested to think what kind of spiritual ideas other artists would have, and with a resurgence of public interest in the supernatural on television, internet sites and other media the time seemed right.

Artists were asked for their response to The Blue Room, and the answers were "surprising and intriguing", she said. "Some people in the show have seen ghosts, and others are complete sceptics."

Artist Audrea du Chatenier spent hours on the internet trawling for spells, incorporated into Wishland a giant ouija board, made from wool, sheep and goat skulls.

Visitors can take home spells for finding love, breaking up love triangles, getting rid of lovers or making people happy.

Artists and high-school friends Saskia Leek and Violet Faigan explored the relationships between teenage girls, asking if a close friendship is because of familiarity or something more spiritual.

In their respective homes in Auckland and Christchurch, each kept an art diary documenting their attempts to send messages by telepathy.

The results are interesting, and a little spooky.

But if you think the exhibition will solve any mysteries, think again. "It doesn't answer any questions how can you?" Sanderson said.

The exhibition runs until October 11, with an artist's talk on July 11 at 2pm.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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