Dunedin artist Sharon Singer says there is research involved in her work-even though it may happen in a haphazard manner. “Nothing happens in a vacuum, but it’s more by osmosis “, she says of her reading and internet delving.
“I’m totally addicted to National Geographic and I think they inform a lot of the work.”
She’s also in touch with an online community of artists and academics, but it’s perhaps the world represented in National Geographic’s glossy pages that looms largest over Singer’s current exhibition.
Soil, at the relatively new a gallery on princes St, is loosely themed around man’s ongoing endeavours to use the resources provided by Earth in the belief that the planet is inexhaustible.
This ranges from the oil industry and the ecological disasters it’s wreaked, to religious ideas about use and ownership of land.
“I don’t call it God or anything like that but I think the planet has a consciousness,”the artist explains.
“It’s not indifferent to what we are doing .When you look at these earthquakes and tidal waves it gives you pause to wonder. There is this kind of cosmic drama going on and we ‘re a part of it ,but I don’t think we’re going to be part of it for too much longer if we don’t get it together.”
Singer came to Dunedin in 2005 to complete her Masters at the Otago Polytechnic’s School of Art.
One of her main interests has been fairytales and myths , and some of her works have been used in international publications, including Fairy Tales and the Art of Subversion. That was edited by Jack Zipes ,an academic with expertise in fairytales that Singer began communicating with over the net.
“When I was doing my masters I was engaged in this research and he kept coming up,” she says.
“it was really accessible writing and really intelligent , and I thought I’m going to send him an email .He came to New Zealand and purchased a work ,and we still communicate .There’s this community of interest I’m fortunate to be able to draw on and have these dialogues with people”.
Such has been Singer’s association with fairytales that some who attended the opening of Soil were surprised the artist had moved from the subject.
“But it’s still story-telling,” she considers.
“It’s still dealing with the same issues of fear and desire .I think that underlies our relationship with the land.”
Soil comments on such contemporary issues as over consumption, capitalism, pollution and greed .Singer admits that what she calls “consciousness –raising art” can have a cringe factor ; it also has a place.
“I think artists get away with it, and there’s almost this expectation that it’s part of the role” she reflects
“Art shouldn’t be about art, it should be about life.”