A Pillow with a River Rock
2022

A Pillow with a River Rock
2022
Carved marble and river rock
435 x 650 x 140mm

A Pillow with a River Rock
A Pillow with a River Rock

A Tyre with a Glass Sphere
2022

A Tyre with a Glass Sphere
2022
Cast plaster and glass
610 x 610 x 190mm
Edition of 3

A Tyre with a Glass Sphere

A Deflated Basketball with Water
2022

A Deflated Basketball with Water
2022
Cast bronze and water
215 x 190 x 170mm
Edition of 3

A Deflated Basketball with Water
A Deflated Basketball with Water

A Scultural Assemblage with Water
2022

Steve Carr
A Sculptural Assemblage with Water
2022
Olympus i-Speed 3 High-Speed Engineers Camera
Duration: 2 mins 4 secs

A Scultural Assemblage with Water

In Bloom (Dewhirst)
2022

In Bloom (Dewhirst)
2020-2022
Cast bronze, living plants
Dimensions variable

Exhibition History:
Takutai Square, Britomart, Auckland, 2020
Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna O Waiwhetū, 2021
Dunedin Public Art Gallery, 2021
Te Uru Waitakere Contemporary Gallery, Auckland, 2022

In Bloom (Dewhirst)
In Bloom (Dewhirst)

Boxing Gloves
2012

Carved Shina and handpainted

Boxing Gloves

Grandpa
2005

I recall a thing that my uncle would sometimes do. I would be sitting in the lounge, and my uncle would bring me a cup of tea. He’d come in, put the tea down and leave. Everything would be perfectly normal, except that my uncle would be wearing a set of plastic Dracula teeth. I would try my hardest to not react to the peculiarity of the event, so too would he remain deadpan. My uncle would have gone back to the kitchen and thought it was hilarious, and it was. More so because I knew that he would probably do it again tomorrow. Neither of us could laugh, or we would spoil the joke. The magic was unspoken.

Grandpa
Grandpa
Grandpa

Grandpa
2005

I recall a thing that my uncle would sometimes do. I would be sitting in the lounge, and my uncle would bring me a cup of tea. He’d come in, put the tea down and leave. Everything would be perfectly normal, except that my uncle would be wearing a set of plastic Dracula teeth. I would try my hardest to not react to the peculiarity of the event, so too would he remain deadpan. My uncle would have gone back to the kitchen and thought it was hilarious, and it was. More so because I knew that he would probably do it again tomorrow. Neither of us could laugh, or we would spoil the joke. The magic was unspoken.

Grandpa
Grandpa
Grandpa

Oil Painting
2006

Used pizza boxes
610 x 610 mm

Oil Painting

Oil Painting
2006

Used pizza boxes
610 x 610 mm

Oil Painting

Oil Painting
2006

Used pizza boxes
610 x 610 mm

Oil Painting

Smoke Bubbles
2016

1–58

A series produced during a residency in Japan in 2010. Taking the cover of Smokey Robinson’s 1973 debut LP as the inspiration, the images are both planetary and preposterous in their appearance – soap bubbles filled with cigarette smoke floating against an inky black backdrop – transitory, richly aesthetic moments plucked from a stench of cigarette plumes and a squelch of suds.

Smoke Bubbles
Smoke Bubbles

Smoke Bubbles
2016

1–58

A series produced during a residency in Japan in 2010. Taking the cover of Smokey Robinson’s 1973 debut LP as the inspiration, the images are both planetary and preposterous in their appearance – soap bubbles filled with cigarette smoke floating against an inky black backdrop – transitory, richly aesthetic moments plucked from a stench of cigarette plumes and a squelch of suds.

Smoke Bubbles
Smoke Bubbles

Smoke Bubbles
2016

1–58

A series produced during a residency in Japan in 2010. Taking the cover of Smokey Robinson’s 1973 debut LP as the inspiration, the images are both planetary and preposterous in their appearance – soap bubbles filled with cigarette smoke floating against an inky black backdrop – transitory, richly aesthetic moments plucked from a stench of cigarette plumes and a squelch of suds.

Smoke Bubbles
Smoke Bubbles

Smoke Bubbles
2016

1–58

A series produced during a residency in Japan in 2010. Taking the cover of Smokey Robinson’s 1973 debut LP as the inspiration, the images are both planetary and preposterous in their appearance – soap bubbles filled with cigarette smoke floating against an inky black backdrop – transitory, richly aesthetic moments plucked from a stench of cigarette plumes and a squelch of suds.

Smoke Bubbles
Smoke Bubbles

Smoke Bubbles
2016

1–58

A series produced during a residency in Japan in 2010. Taking the cover of Smokey Robinson’s 1973 debut LP as the inspiration, the images are both planetary and preposterous in their appearance – soap bubbles filled with cigarette smoke floating against an inky black backdrop – transitory, richly aesthetic moments plucked from a stench of cigarette plumes and a squelch of suds.

Smoke Bubbles
Smoke Bubbles

Extinguishers
2003

An Art Space with a Difference
2 April 2003

Michael Lett, the dealer behind the venture, has felt the need for a different type of gallery for some time. His aim is to establish a place where younger artists who may never have exhibited before can show work alongside those who are better-known. International artists will be included, such as Sydney-based Hany Armanious, who has work in the Chartwell Collection, as well as New Zealanders such as Michael Parekowhai.

Lett is open to exhibiting film and installation pieces, media many dealer galleries shy away from since it is difficult to sell. He believes it is important the gallery has an element of experimentation.

"The artists are free to make work that is outside the usual confines of an exhibition in a dealer gallery. In this sense, I see Michael Lett as a combination of slick gallery and artist-run space."

K Rd is not usually associated with fine art, but it was the only place Lett wanted to locate his gallery.

"If you look around this area you can see it as edgy, vibrant and unique. The kind of people I see walking down this road are the kind of people I'm interested in, and the people who will hopefully be interested in this space."

Not unlike some renowned art areas in major cities, K Rd, a once-notorious neighbourhood, is beginning to get a reputation for progressive art galleries. Lett reckons "some of the best work in New Zealand is shown in K Rd".

Lett has worked in private and public galleries for the past seven years, but his love of art goes back to his childhood. He was an early fan of artists such as Julian Dashper and John Nixon, seeking out and purchasing artworks whenever possible. He affectionately recalls a visit to a dealer gallery, Sue Crockford, when he was 15. He went there specifically to buy one of his first pieces, a John Reynolds painting, which he paid for with hard-earned pocket money. The experience highlights his attitude towards buying art.

"I like the idea you don't necessarily have to be rich to buy art - it's not just for the wealthy - anyone can live with and own works of art."

The first exhibition features the work of Steve Carr, a 26-year-old artist and graduate of the master's programme at Elam. Carr was co-founder of the Blue Oyster Gallery, a celebrated artist-run exhibition space in Dunedin.

The show, entitled Dive, consists of sculpture and film. Lifesize replicas of fire extinguishers, finely made in glass, will be exhibited along with a film showing 12 models floating about in a swimming pool. Carr is also present in the pool, in scuba gear, watching what is happening around him. The apparent erotic nature of the display is played down, leaving a work that is humorous, a little naughty and ambiguous.

Lett has admired Carr's work for some time. "His ideas are contemporary yet elusive. There are many layers but they are visually beautiful. Steve is serious about his practice and produces art on a level with many senior artists. He is making work unlike anyone else."

* Michael Lett, now showing the work of Steve Carr, until May 3, 478 Karangahape Rd.

Extinguishers

Donuts
2007

Donuts 2007
Porcelain, Ceramic Glaze
Set of 12, Edition of 10
80mm x 80mm x 30mm

Donuts

Tiger Girls
2004

The first time the art world really noticed Carr was in 2001 when he presented the video Air Guitar as part of his final student exhibition at Elam School of Fine Arts. In it, Carr acts out a stadium-rock fantasy, miming a classic track from Joe Satriani’s album Surfing with the Alien. Things develop as one would expect in any teenage boy’s bedroom until Carr dials the hubris up to ten. As a smoke machine shrouds him in a starstruck fog, he grows in confidence and strut, letting off a couple of Pete Townshend-style windmills before returning to his phantom solo.

As funny as it is, Carr’s silent performance homes us in on the second layer of teenage male fantasy – all the bucking, thrusting and straining make it clear that this is, more than anything else, a wank video. Watching Carr pound away at his absent axe becomes ridiculous and awkward; he turns us into his mum, walking in at the worst possible moment.

This wilfully untoward sexuality didn’t pass in a hurry. In 2002, he made Pillow Fight, in which he and a group of teenage girls have a pyjama party and smash each other around, sending clouds of feathers into the air. Not long after this came Dive Pool: a film shot underwater of Carr in a scuba mask, watching bikini-clad women swim past him while he sucks in oxygen – evenly, mechanically – from the tank on his back.

Ostensibly, there was nothing wrong with these acts, except of course, that everything was wrong with them. Carr used plausible deniability to infect childish activities with an implicit sexuality. For some critics, this tipped past the early humour of Air Guitar and into a more corrupt space. Rather than backing down, Carr made one of his funniest films in response: Tiger Girls (2004), in which he sits in a spa pool filled with attractive young women and does absolutely nothing except drain several bottles of Tiger Beer.

There’s no question that Carr’s early games, performances and gags were adolescent, narcissistic and self-obsessed. But they were also important steps in his attempt to master a more archetypal condition: Carr is, above all else, a trickster.

- Anthony Byrt

Tiger Girls

Echo
2018

Manipulated Found Footage

Echo presents a poetic suite of repeated tensions with no fixed conclusion. It comprises a single-channel film of manipulated found footage taken from a technical manual for synchronised swimming, revealing what happens below the water’s surface. Presenting symmetrical configurations of an anonymised swimmer duplicated, flipped and mirrored, the work takes the notion of synchronicity to a new level.

Echo

Hay Bale
2004

On the floor is a sculpture. It is a hay bale that has been cast in fibreglass and painted vivid yellow. It is hard where you expect yielding and artificial where we expect natural. It is startling but certainly not rustic or pretty.

Hay Bale

Screenshots
2011

In cinema, slow motion is used to assert the poetry of movement, to make violence and destruction feel epic, and to imply shifts in consciousness—and often more than one of these at once.11 Steve Carr revels in it as a cinematic cliché, a trope. In his Screen Shots (2011), paint-filled balloons popped with pins are presented in slow motion. (Of course, balloons are often used in magic tricks and science experiments, and one of Edgerton’s most iconic images shows three balloons being burst by a single bullet.) As Carr’s balloon skins peel back, the paint briefly retains the balloon shape, before losing it. Takes—in different permutations of background colour, balloon colour, and paint colour—play continuously on nine screens, usually hung in a three-by-three array. No two takes are quite the same. There’s a sense of anticipation in predicting which balloon will burst next and how. As we wait for one balloon to rupture, our eyes are distracted by another one doing so. Not only do the bursting balloons repeat, the whole idea feels like déjà vu. Everyone has seen this kind of high-speed image somewhere, sometime. Edgerton’s iconic set-ups have been endlessly reprised by commercial photographers and nerdy amateur myth busters, making their own flash photos and slow-motion movies of splashing liquids, popped balloons, and penetrated fruit. They seem compelled to repeat his experiments and effects. What is the attraction?

Screenshots

Transpiration
2014

In Steve Carr's Transpiration (2014), huge carnations hover in half-dozen clusters on the wall. They start their lives looking like balls of cotton rags – white, bunchy, frayed. Colour then gathers at their fringes and grows into a slow leach that turns them yellow, or pink, or blue. The flowers’ inner folds wobble slightly. There’s a more general sway at their outer limits – a kind of peripheral rocking. Single petals peel away, minuscule movements that turn into sublime shocks when you manage to catch one at the edges of your vision.

For all that, there’s still the sense that maybe nothing is happening. While I’m there, a young woman walks into the flower-filled room and is convinced she’s seeing a frozen image. When she sees a petal move, she wonders aloud whether the flowers are changing colour before her eyes. She pauses, before announcing that it’s all a ruse.

There’s nothing special about Carr’s flowers, which are just shop-bought blooms. The process being witnessed is pretty basic too: the carnations are sitting in unseen pots of coloured water, sucking it up through their stems.

It’s a primary school magic trick, a way to teach kids about natural science as well as a cheap device florists use to stain their stock. Carr has shot the process over twenty-four hours with a time-lapse camera, then stitched it together into a loop of around fifteen minutes, which runs forwards and back so that we witness the flowers’ inhalation and exhalation as a constant, tidal pulse.

The banality of the work’s origins is transformed by the weight of art history. Although the flowers aren’t painted, they’re thick with paint. Their ragged edges are like the final drags of a brush before it breaks from the surface. The white on black is as stark and luminescent as Manet (one of the greatest flower painters), or Chardin, or even Velázquez. Carr’s carnations are also a clear nod to Andy Warhol’s Flowers and to Jean Cocteau’s film Testament of Orpheus, where flowers become essential, surrealist symbols at the end of the film. From Cocteau to Warhol to Carr; a lineage that reaches through classroom science experiments and impressionism, all the way back to seventeenth-century still-lifes. Except that Carr’s flowers are never still.

We’re used to thinking about cinema as a photographic medium. But conceptually and behaviourally, it shares a great deal with painting, in that both are concerned with the relationships between images and the passing of time. In painting, this is subtle and easy to miss because at first glance, its objects are static things: stillnesses, hanging on walls. Nothing moves. And yet a painting’s surface is also an indexical record of the time it took to be made, every mark and stroke the trace of a body moving through space.

Cinema has a similar ability to defeat the laws of time and space. It can collapse whole lives into minutes, carry us across the world in the flash between frames, and slow time down to fix our attention on the quiet, unseen forces underpinning daily experience.

Transpiration

Transpiration
2014

In Steve Carr's Transpiration (2014), huge carnations hover in half-dozen clusters on the wall. They start their lives looking like balls of cotton rags – white, bunchy, frayed. Colour then gathers at their fringes and grows into a slow leach that turns them yellow, or pink, or blue. The flowers’ inner folds wobble slightly. There’s a more general sway at their outer limits – a kind of peripheral rocking. Single petals peel away, minuscule movements that turn into sublime shocks when you manage to catch one at the edges of your vision.

For all that, there’s still the sense that maybe nothing is happening. While I’m there, a young woman walks into the flower-filled room and is convinced she’s seeing a frozen image. When she sees a petal move, she wonders aloud whether the flowers are changing colour before her eyes. She pauses, before announcing that it’s all a ruse.

There’s nothing special about Carr’s flowers, which are just shop-bought blooms. The process being witnessed is pretty basic too: the carnations are sitting in unseen pots of coloured water, sucking it up through their stems.

It’s a primary school magic trick, a way to teach kids about natural science as well as a cheap device florists use to stain their stock. Carr has shot the process over twenty-four hours with a time-lapse camera, then stitched it together into a loop of around fifteen minutes, which runs forwards and back so that we witness the flowers’ inhalation and exhalation as a constant, tidal pulse.

The banality of the work’s origins is transformed by the weight of art history. Although the flowers aren’t painted, they’re thick with paint. Their ragged edges are like the final drags of a brush before it breaks from the surface. The white on black is as stark and luminescent as Manet (one of the greatest flower painters), or Chardin, or even Velázquez. Carr’s carnations are also a clear nod to Andy Warhol’s Flowers and to Jean Cocteau’s film Testament of Orpheus, where flowers become essential, surrealist symbols at the end of the film. From Cocteau to Warhol to Carr; a lineage that reaches through classroom science experiments and impressionism, all the way back to seventeenth-century still-lifes. Except that Carr’s flowers are never still.

We’re used to thinking about cinema as a photographic medium. But conceptually and behaviourally, it shares a great deal with painting, in that both are concerned with the relationships between images and the passing of time. In painting, this is subtle and easy to miss because at first glance, its objects are static things: stillnesses, hanging on walls. Nothing moves. And yet a painting’s surface is also an indexical record of the time it took to be made, every mark and stroke the trace of a body moving through space.

Cinema has a similar ability to defeat the laws of time and space. It can collapse whole lives into minutes, carry us across the world in the flash between frames, and slow time down to fix our attention on the quiet, unseen forces underpinning daily experience.

Transpiration
Transpiration
Transpiration
Transpiration

Burnout
2009

Burnouts are a feature of bogan culture in New Zealand. They’re a kind of performance made with a car, in which you keep your handbrake on while accelerating, causing your tyres to spin and smoke and the car to lose traction on the road. There are hundreds of frenetic burnout videos on YouTube, which usually feature screeching tyres and heavy metal music and enthusiastic onlookers. In Carr’s video, the camera is still and the car turns a soundless arc in the middle distance. No one is about, and the only audience for the burnout is the videographer.

16mm film transferred to digital video shown as a single-channel video.

Burnout

Nissan Skyline MK1
2014

Blackened walnut

Sculpture
Blackened walnut
Artwork size
56.0 x 56.0 x 20.0 (cm)
22.0 x 22.0 x 7.9 (inch)

Nissan Skyline MK1

Sausages on Sticks
2021

Cherry Wood

A tongue-in-cheek rendition of campfire cooking where carved wooden sausages are non-edible and non-sensical.

900mm x 150mm x 40mm

Sausages on Sticks

Sausages on Sticks
2021

Cherry Wood

A tongue-in-cheek rendition of campfire cooking where carved wooden sausages are non-edible and non-sensical.

900mm x 150mm x 40mm

Sausages on Sticks
Sausages on Sticks

Sausages on Sticks
2021

Cherry Wood

A tongue-in-cheek rendition of campfire cooking where carved wooden sausages are non-edible and non-sensical.

900mm x 150mm x 40mm

Sausages on Sticks
Sausages on Sticks

Fading to the Sky
2021

Recent McCahon House resident Steve Carr has collaborated with emerging artist Christian Lamont to present a new exhibition at Te Uru. A series of works from each artist will be presented in the gallery, overlapping and abstractly communing around themes of light, atmosphere and grief.

Steve Carr was based in Titirangi between January and March 2020, where he completed a McCahon House Residency. During this time, Covid-19 became widespread and his mother was diagnosed with lung cancer. On 17 April 2020, she lost her battle to cancer. Christian Lamont recently completed an MFA at Ilam School of Fine Arts and was supervised by Carr. Both artists, employ cinematic concepts to create installations that invoke mood and meaning in a way that is evocative and intimate.

About the residency: The McCahon House residency aims to give artists an opportunity to develop their work through a supportive programme while living in the environment that impacted so profoundly on the work of Colin McCahon.

27 February – 30 May 2021

Fading to the Sky

Fading to the Sky
2021

Recent McCahon House resident Steve Carr has collaborated with emerging artist Christian Lamont to present a new exhibition at Te Uru. A series of works from each artist will be presented in the gallery, overlapping and abstractly communing around themes of light, atmosphere and grief.

Steve Carr was based in Titirangi between January and March 2020, where he completed a McCahon House Residency. During this time, Covid-19 became widespread and his mother was diagnosed with lung cancer. On 17 April 2020, she lost her battle to cancer. Christian Lamont recently completed an MFA at Ilam School of Fine Arts and was supervised by Carr. Both artists, employ cinematic concepts to create installations that invoke mood and meaning in a way that is evocative and intimate.

About the residency: The McCahon House residency aims to give artists an opportunity to develop their work through a supportive programme while living in the environment that impacted so profoundly on the work of Colin McCahon.

27 February – 30 May 2021

Fading to the Sky
Fading to the Sky
Fading to the Sky
Fading to the Sky

Fading to the Sky
2021

Recent McCahon House resident Steve Carr has collaborated with emerging artist Christian Lamont to present a new exhibition at Te Uru. A series of works from each artist will be presented in the gallery, overlapping and abstractly communing around themes of light, atmosphere and grief.

Steve Carr was based in Titirangi between January and March 2020, where he completed a McCahon House Residency. During this time, Covid-19 became widespread and his mother was diagnosed with lung cancer. On 17 April 2020, she lost her battle to cancer. Christian Lamont recently completed an MFA at Ilam School of Fine Arts and was supervised by Carr. Both artists, employ cinematic concepts to create installations that invoke mood and meaning in a way that is evocative and intimate.

About the residency: The McCahon House residency aims to give artists an opportunity to develop their work through a supportive programme while living in the environment that impacted so profoundly on the work of Colin McCahon.

27 February – 30 May 2021

Fading to the Sky

Screen Shots
2011

HD file transferred to Blu-Ray, 26 min 22 sec

Screen Shots

American Night
2014

A Single-channel film, Blackmagic 4K, duration 15 mins (looped).
Cinematography: Max Bellamy

A little bird perches on a fake branch against a theatre background of spring blossom. As the screen’s artificial day disappears into a false night, it becomes clear that we are witnessing a 24-hour cycle shrunk to a handful of minutes. As the sun comes up, the little bird lets off its frenetic tweet; a few seconds of fake birdsong. In the time it takes us to watch the bird’s daily cycle, everything is new, different, and we are somewhere else.

American Night

Oil Painting
2006

Used pizza boxes
610 x 610 mm

Oil Painting

Oil Painting
2006

Used pizza boxes
610 x 610 mm

Oil Painting

Watermelon
2015

Sony HD XCam, 33 min 9 sec
Cinematography: Luke Rosamond

Two people methodically stretch rubber bands around a watermelon. Carr has formalised the web-sensationalisation of this activity, displaying the full length of this action in a gallery setting. He denies us the instant satisfaction of scrolling through the video online to start the film just before bursting point and the humour and empathy that comes from watching a wider shot with anxious participants. The only sound is the rubber bands rhythmically snapping tight around the watermelon.

Watermelon

Watermelon
2015

Sony HD XCam, 33 min 9 sec
Cinematography: Luke Rosamond

Two people methodically stretch rubber bands around a watermelon. Carr has formalised the web-sensationalisation of this activity, displaying the full length of this action in a gallery setting. He denies us the instant satisfaction of scrolling through the video online to start the film just before bursting point and the humour and empathy that comes from watching a wider shot with anxious participants. The only sound is the rubber bands rhythmically snapping tight around the watermelon.

Watermelon
Watermelon
Watermelon

Shuttlecocks and Sakura
2010

Shuttlecocks and Sakura

Shuttlecocks and Sakura
2010

Shuttlecocks and Sakura

Shuttlecocks and Sakura
2010

Shuttlecocks and Sakura

Shuttlecocks and Sakura
2010

Shuttlecocks and Sakura

Shuttlecocks and Sakura
2010

Shuttlecocks and Sakura

Hanging Gloves
2010

from the series Weight of the Sun
Carved Stained Shina
Dimensions vary

Hanging Gloves

Hanging Gloves
2010

from the series Weight of the Sun
Carved Stained Shina
Dimensions vary

Hanging Gloves

Hanging Gloves
2010

from the series Weight of the Sun
Carved Stained Shina
Dimensions vary

Hanging Gloves

Nodding Dogs
2009

Nodding Dogs

Peanut Shells, Chewing Gum and Cigarette Butts
2005

Peanut Shells, Chewing Gum and Cigarette Butts

Popcorn 100kgs
2013

According to the Encyclopedia Popcornia, Native American tribal folklore told the story of spirits who live within each kernel of popcorn, quiet and content to live life alone inside their little home. However these spirits grew angry when their homes were heated, and as they became hotter and hotter and angrier and angrier, they would burst from their homes as a puff of hot air.

Popcorn Mountain is set to the current weight of the artist at the time of installation. Carr's weight does tend to fluctuate. Please contact the artist for his current weight if you wish to present this work.

Popcorn 100kgs

The Song Remains the Same
2016

Phantom Flex, Duration 2 mins 28 secs

The Song Remains the Same

Oil Painting
2014

Used pizza boxes
610 x 610 mm

,

Transpiration no. 4
2014

Cinematography: Shay Dewey

Carr revels in offering the viewer the iconic and the imperceptible, the instant gratification and the Longue durée, so things are not how they first appear. In Transpiration, these luscious images eventually reveal movement, a glimpse of a petal folding or fluttering, and the carnations’ colours change, too, each pink, yellow, and blue slowly deepening. Carr has filmed a classroom science experiment with a time-lapse camera: Place a white carnation into dyed water, and the flower absorbs the water through its stem, adopting its dyed colour in the process. The work’s points of reference are as avant-garde as they are populist: for instance, Warhol’s flower paintings that were in turn inspired by Jean Cocteau’s 1959 film Testament of Orpheus (thus Carr returns the flower imagery to its cinematic roots).

Transpiration no. 4

Milk and Honey
2010

C-type photographic print

Milk and Honey
Milk and Honey
Milk and Honey
Milk and Honey

A Shot in the Dark (Bear Rug)
2008

Kauri, stain, acrylic paint
2400 x 2200 x 400mm

A Shot in the Dark (Bear Rug)

A Shot in the Dark (The Bachelor)
2008

C-type print mounted on dibond
865 x 1235mm

A Shot in the Dark (The Bachelor)

Motor Reliefs
2017

Cinematography: John Christoffels

In Motor Reliefs, the revolving sports wheel rims stop, start, speed up - present the illusion of turning backwards - and then slow down. There are nine different brands, their features accentuated by tyres that are comparatively thin, while the silvery light flashes elegantly off the radiating struts, sometimes turning to a blur. For lovers of art history, Carr’s project cleverly combines ‘Boy Racer’ culture with the optical experiments of Marcel Duchamp that the work’s title refers to. At first, all the glowing wheels seem identical, but gradually the distinctive characteristics of each one become apparent.

Motor Reliefs

Dead Time
2012

7 channel installation, Phantom Flex transferred to ProRes HQ files synchronised through multiple hard drives, 8 min 40 sec

Dead Time

Dead Time
2012

7 channel installation, Phantom Flex transferred to ProRes HQ files synchronised through multiple hard drives, 8 min 40 sec

Dead Time

Variations for Troubled Hands
2015

Variations for Troubled Hands

Variations for Troubled Hands
2015

Variations for Troubled Hands

In Bloom (Dewhirst)
2022

STEVE CARR: IN BLOOM
Planting design by Winston Dewhirst

In bloom was developed by artist Steve Carr during his 2020 residency at McCahon House in nearby French Bay. Cast in bronze from car tyres and presented with living plants, In bloom presents a contrast in materials to provide a moment of reflection on states of permanence and change. Situated on the rooftop of historic Lopdell House, with views of the regenerated forests of the Waitākere Ranges, the bronze tyres reframe the increasingly urbanised surroundings of Titirangi within a narrative of change, value, waste and seasonal growth.

Carr’s art practice is often concerned with recording moments of transition. The tyres carry the language of use, reuse and reincarnation – from westie car culture and lawn ornaments to planter boxes, retaining walls, tyre swings, and a multitude of other applications in between. In contrast to the static and heroic nature of public sculpture, In bloom is filled with a changing selection of plants, reimagined by local designers at each stage of its seasonal journey around Aotearoa, from Britomart, Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland for summer 2020/21, to Ōtautahi Christchurch for autumn, in association with Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū, then Ōtepoti Dunedin, where it was presented at the Dunedin Public Art Gallery for the southern winter. Now returning to its point of origin, it will occupy the Lopdell House rooftop with a special spring/summer planting.

The plants in Carr’s tyres are a range of indigenous species selected by local landscape architect Winston Dewhirst, which recall attempts to clear them for farming from Titirangi’s hilly terrain and the wider region, although some still survive on sea cliffs. This planting is a collection of native weeds, a patch of pests, who by their nature thrive in exposed environments, like the rooftop of Lopdell House. Gnarled and scruffy, their wild character aesthetically complements the seemingly discarded pile of tyres. This planting is a tribute to the persistent few that remain and emphasise Carr’s consideration of permanency.

Steve Carr (b.1976) is a contemporary artist based in Ōtautahi Christchurch. With a multidisciplinary practice, spanning sculpture, photography, film and performance, Carr exhibits in Aotearoa and internationally. He received a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Sculpture) from the Otago Polytechnic School of Fine Arts, Dunedin, in 1998 and graduated Master of Fines Arts from Elam, University of Auckland in 2003. He was artist in residence at McCahon House in Summer 2020 and presented the exhibition Fading to the sky at Te Uru in 2021 with Christian Lamont. Carr is currently a Senior Lecturer in Film and Sculpture at Ilam School of Art at the University of Canterbury.

Presented by Te Uru and made with the support of Creative NZ. In bloom will be in Titirangi until the end of Summer. Displayed courtesy of the artist and Michael Lett.

In Bloom (Dewhirst)

In Bloom (Estelle)
2021

In Bloom was developed as part of Steve Carr’s 2020 residency at McCahon House, Titirangi. In this installation, a series of planters has been assembled from discarded car tyres, cast in bronze and emblazoned with Carr’s name and the title of the work.

Carr’s art practice is often concerned with recording moments of change and transition. In Bloom creates a set of meeting points – between the fabricated and the natural, between movement and stillness, between perceptions of ‘value’ and of ‘waste’. The tyres carry the language of use, reuse and reincarnation – from car culture to planter boxes, retaining walls, tyre swings, and a multitude of other applications in between.

With its series of fleeting plantings and arrangements reimagined by local designers at each presentation, In Bloom challenges the permanent nature of public sculpture. First presented over the summer at Takutai Square, Britomart, Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland, the sculpture was planted by landscape architect Jared Lockhart. In Autumn 2021 the sculpture was relocated to Ōtautahi Christchurch, in association with Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū. This planting, developed by landscape architect Di Lucas, featured a scheme based around invasive and pest species. In Ōtepoti Dunedin from June until the end of August, In Bloom is reimagined for a Southern winter, its arrangement designed by Jolene Wilkinson.

Steve Carr (b.1976) is a contemporary artist based in Ōtautahi Christchurch. With a multidisciplinary practice, spanning sculpture, photography, film and performance, Carr exhibits in Aotearoa and Internationally. He received a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Sculpture, Hons) from the Otago Polytechnic School of Fine Arts, Dunedin, in 1998 and graduated Master of Fine Arts (Hons) from Elam, University of Auckland in 2003. In 2014 Carr participated in the Dunedin Public Art Gallery Visiting Artist programme, after which the Gallery acquired his digital video Transpiration (Offshoots), 2014 for the permanent collection.

In Bloom was made with the support of
Creative New Zealand Toi Aotearoa

In Bloom (Estelle)

In Bloom (Lucas)
2021

Bronze-cast tyres and living plants present a contrast in materials, reflecting on states of permanence and change.
Steve Carr often explores themes of time and transformation. In Bloom continues this investigation. It could also be seen as a self-portrait of sorts; the bronze tyres are branded with Carr’s name in an appropriation of Bridgestone’s logo – which in itself was a translation of Ishibashi, meaning "stone bridge" in Japanese.

The plants growing in Carr’s tyres were selected by local landscape architect Di Lucas, who is critically acclaimed for her conservation works, along with Rosalie Snoyink, Fionn Heeran and Steffan Kraberger. Here, all the plantings are invasive species – gorse, Russell lupin, pine or sycamore; imported plants that have overstayed their welcome, now seen sprawling across the landscape, pushing out indigenous species. Together, the unwanted tyres and plants in In Bloom encourage us to think about the life expectancy of the things we use and to imagine what might happen if we treated all objects as eternal.

In Bloom was developed by Carr while on residency at McCahon House in French Bay, West Auckland. First situated in pedestrian-friendly Takutai Square, Britomart, for autumn it welcomes visitors at the entrance of Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū, before it travels to Dunedin for the winter.

In Bloom (Lucas)

In Bloom (Lockhart)
2020

Artist Steve Carr was on a residency at McCahon House in Titirangi when New Zealand’s first COVID lockdown was announced. Now, as Auckland emerges from its second stint at Alert Level 3, he’s created a significant new sculpture that will occupy Takutai Square for the three months of spring. It refers to the possibilities of a post-COVID future, as well as some of his favourite artistic themes from his past. Here, he talks to Britomart’s Jeremy Hansen about the creation of the work and the themes it addresses.

JEREMY HANSEN: Steve, you’ve created a sculpture that looks like three piles of old tyres with plants in them, but the tyres are actually cast in bronze. What are you trying to tell us?

STEVE CARR: I guess this sculpture kind of speaks to a lot of themes that I deal with in my work and pulls them all together. There’s boy racer culture – the short film I made called Burnout featured a slow-motion shot of a car doing a burnout and all the smoke coming up from the tyres. It was the idea of alchemy, of one material transforming into another. That’s happening here too. I really like the idea of this work in public space - there will be this assumption that it’s a pile of rubber tyres and on closer inspection people will see it’s a precious metal.

People have come to expect public sculptures to be made of materials like bronze, yet they probably expect a person on a plinth more than piles of tyres.

I was really interested in doing something in bronze which could last 100 years, but for the time that it’s in existence the plants in it have to be looked after in a way that grows and changes over time. I’m interested in this idea of slowing down, and our perception of how time can feel really quick or slow. These tyres are about motion that has been cast and frozen, and they’re paired with plants that are constantly moving and growing. [The plants were selected and planted by landscape architect Jared Lockhart]

This work has had a long gestation period, but the resolution to it came during the first lockdown, which extended your residency at McCahon House in Titirangi. Can you talk a bit about that?

When I arrived in Christchurch four or five years ago [Carr is a senior lecturer at the Ilam School of Arts at the University of Canterbury] I talked to the bronze caster Matthew Williams about the work, but it was the McCahon residency where the idea of the planting into the tyres came together and added something deeper to the work. Whether you think the car tyres reference boy racers or family trips or the puncture you get on Christmas day, the plants make me think of the tyres you have in gardens that are often painted in bright colours and filled with herbs.

Why is it that you’ve referred to car culture, or boy racer culture, regularly in your work?

It’s a nostalgic thing – it’s about our teenage years, a lot of my memories are about my older sisters and their boyfriends, and they were about cars. I didn’t drive until I was 26 or 27, but I’ve always been fascinated by car culture. Even the title of this work, ‘In Bloom’, which is a play on the plants in the tyre stacks, is also a Nirvana track, which is those 90s grunge rebellion years. I do find boy racer culture intriguing – it’s not just male-dominated, there’s quite a big culture around female racers as well, and a strong sense of community.

There’s also an environmental context to this work – we were talking the other day about how tyres are a significant environmental problem, as are cars. It’s hard not to think that this work is a kind of memorial for all of that.

Britomart is a high-traffic area, right in the heart of our busiest city, and it’s been pedestrianised as well, so it raises interesting questions about transport and how we deal with that. We can’t help but consider In Bloom in terms of environmental concerns – petrol vehicles are now known, of course, to be a leading cause of carbon emissions, though here nature takes over. As the planting grows, the work will change and evolve with the passing of time. Takutai Square is a busy place where people are walking past this work constantly, so it gives them the opportunity to see it multiple times and pick up on all those layers of detail. They might notice that it is metal, the text on the tyres, or see how the planting is establishing and changing to the seasons. The sculpture is a timeline, and a marker of their time in that space as well.

In Bloom by Steve Carr was made with funding from Creative NZ. The work is displayed in Takutai Square courtesy of the artist and Michael Lett.

In Bloom (Lockhart)

Oil Painting
2006

Used pizza boxes
610 x 610 mm

Oil Painting

Oil Painting
2006

Used pizza boxes
610 x 610 mm

Oil Painting

Oil Painting
2006

Used pizza boxes
610 x 610 mm

Oil Painting

Oil Painting
2006

Used pizza boxes
610 x 610 mm

Oil Painting

Popcorn Mountain (100kgs)
2013

According to the Encyclopedia Popcornia, Native American tribal folklore told the story of spirits who live within each kernel of popcorn, quiet and content to live life alone inside their little home. However these spirits grew angry when their homes were heated, and as they became hotter and hotter and angrier and angrier, they would burst from their homes as a puff of hot air.

Popcorn Mountain is set to the current weight of the artist at the time of installation. Carr's weight does tend to fluctuate. Please contact the artist for his current weight if you wish to present this work.

Popcorn Mountain (100kgs)

Bubble, Cactus
2015

Cinematography: John Lund
Sound: NASA

Bubble Cactus is a piece of found footage recorded on a Phantom HD camera that Carr has digitally stretched from 30 seconds to ten minutes to make visible the invisible. In the split seconds drawn out to minutes, the spines of the cactus slowly perforate the membrane of the bubble. The light ripples across the surface - the bubble quivers, then explodes. We are used to bearing witness to cinematic time manipulation through our daily image consumption; nature documentaries and sporting fixtures have been showing us intimate details of how the world works for decades- the speeding up of plants growth through time lapse, or the slow motion replays of sporting fouls. However, Carr’s work removes the familiarity of the scene and imbues it with a sense of tension which builds to an epic soundtrack. Recorded by the Voyager space probes launched by NASA in 1977, which gathered field recordings of the interaction between the solar wind and the magnetosphere of various planets and moons in the Solar System.

Bubble, Cactus
Bubble, Cactus

Apples and Oranges 10kgs
2008

Apples and Oranges 10kgs

Now
Available
For a
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Pizza

Oil
Painting

These unique works are an unlimited snack-sized edition intended to be affordable for both of us. You buy the pizza. I eat it. Your signed, unframed artwork is delivered directly to your door. Gluten-free and vegan options available.

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Page: Pizza

Used pizza box 250 x 250 mm

 

Total
500 NZD