Luminary I Luminare Northart Gallery
Luminary I Luminare, explores contemporary connections between art and spiritual experience through relationships between geometry, abstraction, colour, light and space. Sewell creates artworks in unexpected and alternative exhibition spaces such as sites of worship – as well as gallery spaces – that offer the viewer the potential for an experience of the unseen and unknown. The exhibition includes the use of spherical and circular forms in sculptural and photographic works, which reflect Sewell's interest in celestial bodies and sacred geometries.
Here, the original use of the term ‘luminary ’references natural light- giving bodies, cosmic or celestial. A luminary can also be a person who inspires or influences others, especially one prominent in a particular sphere.
Luminary I Luminare, was concurrently showing in Venice, Italy, in the 6th Edition of the ECC Biennale at Palazzo Bembo, Venice, until 27 November 2022, and also toured Aotearoa New Zealand’s four main cities, beginning at Northart Gallery.
This presentation is a multi-media immersive installation, including two suites of photographic works, a sculptural component, sound and video. It is a new site-specific iteration of Luminary.
Video documentation including a time-lapse of the installation process of the Luminary I Luminare presentation at Palazzo Bembo in Venice, also played on Northart’s digital screens near the entrance to Gallery A and was viewable 24/7.
Taking Luminary on tour while the presentation was showing in Venice opened the potential for dialogue, connections and opportunities across the two separate but connected projects, linked by histories of contemporary art and faith, and sites of worship.
The presentation of Luminary in Aotearoa tours the project to three unique and significant sites of worship — St Pauls Dunedin, New Zealand’s only entirely stone Cathedral, a widely acclaimed architectural award-winning contemporary space of worship in Christchurch Oxford Terrace Baptist, rebuilt to replace the ruins of the original building from the earthquakes of 2011. The third site in Wellington, St Johns Presbyterian, is a gothic period heritage building constructed entirely of wood, and one of only three of this type in New Zealand.
Sewell’s foregrounding of the everyday materials of her works’ construction also suggests moments of access between the material and the intangible. Photographic works are lumen prints made at the dawn of day. These recast found and everyday materials (polystyrene balls from a do-it-yourself set of our solar system and glass paperweights) as celestial bodies hovering in deep space. The resulting compositions evoke the cosmos, and for some, perhaps the earliest representations of our solar system.
The sound component in this installation is created from NASA Voyager recordings made in deep space around the planets and moons of our solar system. This information, when sent back to Earth and decoded, can be heard as enigmatic and intriguing sounds from space – the music of the spheres. Sewell’s interest in levitation, a quality suggested by her suspension of forms appearing to hover in space, is influenced by ideas of ascension and transcendence, and conduits between the material and ethereal realms. She aspires to draw viewers ’attention to look and think beyond the material – and into the realm of feeling – in order to experience the possibilities of wonder.