Elizabeth Thomson, one of New Zealand’s foremost sculptors has for twenty years been creating exquisitely crafted works which orchestrate the area between two and three dimensions, and the boundaries of art and science.
In her latest exhibition at Two Rooms, La Planète Sauvage, large gleaming spheres hover in a constellation. Incandescent moons, new worlds and blue planets draw us into the timeless dimension and possibilities of outer space. Using her known repetoire of zinc pohutukawa leaves, scientific glass, glass beading and resin she takes the guise of botanist, mathematician and space traveller. Familiar matter is lifted from the ordinary, becoming optically elusive and transcending usual references; taking it to the extraordinary, weightless and the optimistic.
Delicately formed ovals and ellipses map out the new frontier. Thomson drew her initial inspiration for these elliptical compositions on circular panels from large format pictorial books of Astronomy she was given as a child and, grouped together on the wall, these hovering discs of various sizes resemble a fantastic solar system in base relief. Thomson has called these works her ‘Astrophysics’series and the hovering and sometimes interlocking ellipses they contain evoke many things; diagrams in school physics text books, spinning tops and gyros or the simple translucent forms of floating bubbles blown from a child’s bubble pipe.
“Her third work TheShimmering Lake’s 2007 resembles a giant vista whose impressive scale and swooping perspective recall countless representations of sublime water views with reflections and glancing light. Its grid like organization also reveals a kind of wilderness that is never far beneath the surfaces of those vanishing points, reflections and repoussoirsor framing devices – the ways we manage and channel unruly nature, turning landscapes in to mindscapes. As Thomson says, ‘this is an idealised landscape, whose influences are historical European perterre gardens, airport runways, urban planning, satellite images and Rene Laloux and Roland Topor ‘s 1973 animated movie La Planète Sauvage (fantastic Planet). It could be a floating lattice in space, a virtual landscape, a pleasure garden’.”