Biennale of Sydney

Kate Newby

Kate Newby, The January February March, 2015, porcelain stoneware, earthenware, dimensions variable. Installation view (2015) at Hobart and Margaretville, New York. Courtesy the artist and Michael Lett, Auckland

Kate Newby, Two aspirins a vitamin C tablet and some baking soda, 2015 (detail), bricks, pennies, coins, silver, porcelain stones, aluminium, glass. Courtesy the artist and Michael Lett, Auckland. Photograph: Fredrik Nilson

Kate Newby

Born 1979 in Auckland, New Zealand
Lives and works in New York, USA and Auckland

Kate Newby’s practice asks us to awaken to our environment, her artworks manifesting as shrewd yet restrained gestures towards the world outside the white cube. Moving beyond institutional critique, Newby’s works promote a heightened perceptual awareness, encouraging detailed consideration of the relationship between people and things. Working with installation, textile, ceramic, casting, metal and glass, Newby’s choice of material is dependent on the chosen site, often a peripheral space, and its individual particularities.

Newby’s works take part in the action of everyday life; moving fluidly between being subject and object. The artist has placed hand-held objects in the pockets of gallery attendants, created a pothole at the end of a track on a remote island, and even asked audiences to skip handmade ceramic stones. Newby is not concerned with permanence or the enclosed work of art, instead she welcomes the questions that arise when producing works that integrate into life.

The artist presents a new site-specific installation, A rock in this pocket., 2018, replacing a section of the enclosed courtyard of Cockatoo Island’s Convict Precinct with a sequence of bricks embedded with ceramic and metal objects and found pieces of broken glass. The bricks are also inscribed with markings, functioning as slight but sensitive responses to the immediate context.

Newby has also created a sculptural wind chime, I’m actually weirdly exciting, 2018. A series of sticklike objects strung closely together and suspended from the ceiling of the Art Gallery of New South Wales, the individual components resemble stalactites or geological formations shaped over thousands of years. Visible from the Entrance Court, the work is activated by surrounding conditions in the space – a gust of wind or the movement of bodies through the gallery might cause the components to sway or even collide, producing a gentle tinkling sound. In this way, the work is both a response to and result of its site. I'm actually weirdly exciting transforms a seemingly impenetrable institutional context to a set of elemental conditions susceptible to manipulation.