Vincent Ward: Bodies of work

by North & South / 19 October, 2016
The human form becomes the artist’s canvas for filmmaker Vincent Ward, who invited photographer Adrian Malloch and writer Elisabeth Easther into his studio to document the creation of a new solo exhibition.
ArticleGalleryModule - Gallery: Vincent Ward, Bodies of work
Growing up in the backblocks of the Wairarapa, filmmaker and artist Vincent Ward (Vigil, What Dreams May Come, River Queen) was always fascinated by landscapes.

“Because I was relatively isolated, my experiences were to do with observing, of being a part of the landscape; and because my mother [a German refugee] was going through a hard time, I took great care to get out of her hair, as far away as possible. To get away, I would roam.”

Cut to the present, Ward’s roaming has brought him to Auckland, where he has just staged his first exhibition of new work in four years. Palimpsest/Landscapes uses both film and photography to connect landforms with human emotions using bodies in place of canvas. “I was trying to physicalise our landscape, to make where we live, our environment, human.”

Ward admits he was a little nervous about allowing a journalist to observe one of 14 shoot days and what was, in all honesty, a fairly eccentric set.

Picture this: two dancers, both women; one redhead and one brunette. They’re both naked, their bodies covered in white clay, smears of paint and something that looks like moss. And it’s freezing in Ward’s cavernous studio.

With the camera just centimetres from their flesh, the naked dancers lie in a tangle of strings on a wooden bed of silver foil, the plaster drying and cracking on their goosebumped skin. “This is going to be messy,” says Ward, slathering one of the women with avocado, diced green kiwifruit, tamarillo pulp, clay and powdered colours, puffs of sponge.

“Explore your inner landscapes,” he instructs, from behind his monitor. “Find a shape within yourself, and I’ll tell you what it looks like from my point of view.”

Cue the dry ice, mist, gentle rain and steam. “Don’t wet my lens,” Ward warns one of the crew as the elements drizzle and fly.

“The process is relatively experimental,” Ward explains, amid the controlled chaos. “Like a laboratory. You go into something with an idea, a theme, but you never know how it will materialise. It won’t make sense, what you see today. But it will. This is a very layered process.”

Latest

Writer Robert Macfarlane finds deeps truths in Underland
108287 2019-07-17 00:00:00Z Books

Writer Robert Macfarlane finds deeps truths in Und…

by Tony Murrow

In a new book, Robert Macfarlane heads underground to ponder mankind’s effect on the planet.

Read more
Why extra virgin olive oil is back on the menu for frying
108203 2019-07-17 00:00:00Z Nutrition

Why extra virgin olive oil is back on the menu for…

by Jennifer Bowden

For decades, the word in the kitchen has been that olive oil shouldn’t be used for frying, but new research could change that.

Read more
Abstract artist Gretchen Albrecht's true colours
108108 2019-07-16 00:00:00Z Profiles

Abstract artist Gretchen Albrecht's true colours

by Linda Herrick

Gretchen Albrecht paintings may be intangible, but they are triggered by real-life experience, she tells Linda Herrick.

Read more
That's a Bit Racist is playful, but it packs a punch
108435 2019-07-16 00:00:00Z Television

That's a Bit Racist is playful, but it packs a pun…

by Diana Wichtel

The taboo-busting doco is trying to change our default settings on race, but some people aren't stoked.

Read more
Are there too many tourists in NZ?
108444 2019-07-16 00:00:00Z Life in NZ

Are there too many tourists in NZ?

by North & South

Here's what's inside North and South's August 2019 issue.

Read more
Huawei's dogged determination: Can it make a breakthrough in New Zealand?
108428 2019-07-16 00:00:00Z Tech

Huawei's dogged determination: Can it make a break…

by Peter Griffin

The tech company at the centre of a trade war between the US and China is willing to go to extraordinary lengths to prove it can be trusted.

Read more
The many miracles of Aretha Franklin movie Amazing Grace
108368 2019-07-15 00:00:00Z Movies

The many miracles of Aretha Franklin movie Amazing…

by Russell Baillie

A long-lost concert movie capturing Lady Soul in her prime is heading to the New Zealand International Film Festival.

Read more
The untold history of China's one child policy
108182 2019-07-14 00:00:00Z History

The untold history of China's one child policy

by RNZ

Nanfu Wang explains the story behind her film One Child Nation, which screens at the International Film Festival this July.

Read more