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7 May until 6 July 2024 NorthART Gallery,

Tamaki Makaurau I Auckland

A survey show of wahine artists working with abstraction in

Aotearoa I New Zealand

3 Sisters, 3 Kings (earth from where I was born), 2024 &

Luminary II XR (Betelgeuse), 2024

This sculptural installation represents a new creation specifically tailored for this exhibition. It has evolved from various strands of research, incorporating astronomical studies, Greek mythology, and folklore surrounding the Orion constellation, as well as explorations into the ancient Japanese art form of Hikaru dorodango and the essence of plants with their physical and psychological benefits. The exhibition encompasses elements of sound, aroma, sculptural works, and photography, all exploring the connections between the tangible and intangible, the abstract and the spiritual, and the diverse realms of sensory experience. The artwork endeavors to evoke the unfathomable mystery and beauty of cosmic phenomena, serving as a potential threshold into the realm of the numinous. This iteration is interwoven with the artist's personal history and collective narrative.


3 Sisters, 3 Kings (earth from where I was born), 2024

Sculptural installation, Sculptures: soil, sand, clay, water, pigments, brass rod, brass wire, [1400 x 900 x 1800mm], Photograms: on Ilford FB paper, photographic retouch ink, wooden frames [540 x 2460mm], Scent: Unity 3 Sisters, 3 Kings, (Vetiver, Myrrh, Patchouli, Frankincense, Galbanum, Juniper Berries, Laurel leaf), Sound: Orion’s Anthem, source NASA, 25mins M4A

3 Sisters, 3 Kings references the three stars at the center of the Orion constellation, commonly known as Orion's belt. This celestial feature has been revered throughout history as a celestial bridge, connecting the sky's northern and southern hemispheres. For Sewell, who herself is one of three sisters, it serves as a metaphorical meeting place, symbolizing the convergence of her and her children's families, which span dual hemispheres and encompass diverse cultural heritages.

The exhibition prominently features spherical and circular forms in both sculptural and photographic works, reflecting artist Karen Sewell's fascination with celestial bodies and sacred geometries. The sphere, a universal symbol representing eternity, wholeness, and unity, features as a central motif  in Sewell's works. Her interest in levitation, evident in her sculptures that appear to hover in space, is influenced by concepts of ascension and transcendence, highlighting the connections between the material and ethereal realms and encouraging viewers to look beyond the tangible and into the realm of feeling in order to experience the possibilities of wonder.

  1. Photographic Works: Orion's Belt 3 Sisters, 3 Kings These photograms are created using earth and sand collected from the cliffs of a local site in Castor Bay, Tamaki Makaurau (Auckland), which was once the site of a maternity home where Sewell was born. Combined with found and everyday materials such as polystyrene balls and glass baubles, these elements are transformed into celestial bodies suspended in deep space. The resulting compositions evoke the cosmos and offer a glimpse into the earliest representations of our solar system, emphasizing moments of connection between the material and intangible realms.

  2. Sculptures: Stardust 3 Sisters, 3 Kings (earth from where I was born) - Hand-sculpted spheres inspired by the ancient Japanese art form of hikaru dorodango, these sculptures are crafted from earth and sand gathered from the site at Castor Bay. This cluster of sculptures references the Orion constellation, visible from anywhere in the world, particularly in the Southern Hemisphere to the Northwest at this time of year. Orion’s belt, formed by blue supergiant stars Alnilam, Mintaka, and Alnitak, serves as the inspiration for this installation.

  3. Sound: Orion’s Anthem - The sound component of the installation carefully crafted via soundscaping, features recordings from NASA Voyager missions made in deep space around planets, moons, and stars within our solar system. These enigmatic sounds, decoded upon their return to Earth, offer a captivating auditory experience—the music of the spheres. 

  4. Scent: Unity 3 Sisters 3 Kings - This component offers an olfactory experience, where the interplay of scent with memory and bodily sensation may be explored. Through a meticulously crafted fusion of essential oils, including Vetiver, Myrrh, Galbanum, Juniper berries, and Laurel leaf, this composition unfolds a rich tapestry of sensory experience encouraging a sense of renewal and cohesion for viewers immersed in the exhibit.

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