Kate Newby YES TOMORROW

20 February – 30 May 2021

Kate Newby has built her career on the principle of ‘travelling light’, responding to locations where she is invited to work by translating her casual observations of things and places into sculptural installations of locally sourced materials, and testing where she can be and what she should do through architectural interventions and site works. Her modus operandi requires her to rely on local knowledge, building networks of helpers to share in her efforts, but also testing audiences’ expectations about what is proper to the art experience.

In December 2020 she flew in to New Zealand from San Antonio Texas, where she is currently based, a return journey conditioned by the COVID pandemic that is curtailing the kind of movement to which Newby has become accustomed. Coming home to make this exhibition has enabled her to reconnect with places –Te Henga on Auckland’s west coast, Paeroa, Whanganui, and Te Whanganui-a-Tara – and people: family members, old friends, artists, makers, and more.

YES TOMORROW is therefore a particularly memorable ‘touching down’.  It maintains the artist’s customary lightness, as she addresses herself to the Adam Art Gallery’s building and its environs and brings in handmade objects retrieved from storage and made for the occasion. But it also grounds her, taking stock of her passage through the art world, crystallising her particular sculptural language, and memorialising those transitory encounters that litter her life. The exhibition unfolds as a set of confident and challenging interventions that recast the relationship between art and its context and invite viewers to look again at the world around them.

Adam Art Gallery Te Pātaka Toi’s invitation to US-based New Zealand artist Kate Newby follows major solo shows by Simon Denny (2014), Kim Pieters (2014), Ruth Buchanan (2016), Luke Willis Thompson (2018) and Edith Amituanai (2019). It is her most substantial exhibition to date. This major undertaking could not have been achieved without substantial assistance. Newby spent time developing her work with a Joan Mitchell Foundation Grant (2019) and an Arts Grant from Creative New Zealand Toi Aotearoa (2020). The exhibition has been realised with generous support from Creative New Zealand Toi Aotearoa; Public Art Fund, Wellington City Council; Te Whare Hēra and Massey University; Jan Warburton Charitable Trust; Jim Barr and Mary Barr; the Congreve family; Michael Lett; The Sunday Painter; Fine Arts, Sydney; Cooper Cole and several anonymous donors.

Kate Newby was born in Auckland in 1979. She studied at Elam School of Fine Arts, graduating with a BFA in 2001 and returning there to undertake a Doctor of Fine Arts, which she completed in 2015. Though quickly establishing herself in the Auckland art scene – she was a founder of Gambia Castle, an artist-run space that operated between 2007 and 2010 on and in the vicinity of Auckland’s Karangahape Road – her career can be charted as a series of itinerant opportunities, with exhibitions in destinations as various as Melbourne, Mexico City, Brussels, Los Angeles, Lisbon, Toronto, Vienna, London, and elsewhere. Newby has undertaken residencies in Germany, Australia, the US, Mexico and Canada, including Chinati Foundation (Marfa, 2012), Fogo Island (Newfoundland, 2012-3), and ISCP (NYC, 2012). She won the Walters Prize in 2012, and was recipient of a Joan Mitchell Foundation Grant in 2019. She has recently moved from Brooklyn, New York, to a small town near San Antonio in Texas. She is represented by Michael Lett, Auckland; Fine Arts, Sydney, The Sunday Painter, London, and Cooper Cole, Toronto. You can view her recent work at Kate Newby.

Kate Newby’s exhibition extends to the Terrace Tunnel Park, which is accessible from The Terrace and Salamanca Road. The sculpture located on this site has been funded by Wellington City Council’s Public Art Fund. We thank the Public Art Panel, Eve Armstrong, Karl Noldan and Chris Logan.

The public programme associated with the exhibition can be accessed here.

View a pdf of the YES TOMORROW exhibition guide here.

Listen to Kim Hill’s interview with Kate Newby on RNZ here.

Image: Kate Newby, YES TOMORROW, 2021, colour photograph, courtesy of the artist