Super Heroes Review – NZ Herald

Down the road at Bath Street Gallery a totally different spirit prevails. Super Heroes by Chris Hargreaves is international in style, with photographs, sculpture and photographs of sculpture.

The principal series of photos, excellently printed and presented, are of a plastic toy hero, GI Joe, striking various warrior stances. The effect is polished irony. The same toy figures are covered with gold leaf and mounted on tall pedestals but the largest sculptural work is a series of swings hung from the ceiling with bailing twine. They are titled Swings and Roundabouts.

The strongest element is a group of three stealth aircraft made of wood and mounted like ducks on the wall. Each has a special surface. One shows a view of a town that is a potential target. It is a dream of a drone attack. Another shows galaxies and nebulae. It is a dream of space. The third is gold, a dream of value and cost. Everything is carefully crafted but each aspect comes across as seeking meaning in a world without surety.

TJ McNamara. Weekend Herald 27th October 2012.

Thank you TJ for a fantastic review!

Special thanks must go to Bath Street Gallery for providing a stunning space

Also John at Digital Darkroom for the amazing prints

And Daryl at The Framing Studio for the awesome frames!

Super Heroes – Bath St Gallery Parnell

Solo show at Bath Street Gallery in Parnell – 16th October 2012 to 4th November 2012.
As part of Auckland Artweek I will be giving a talk in the gallery on Sunday 28th October at 11am.


Super Heroes

‘Raising a child. It is not a science. It’s an art. A mysteriously delicate balance between holding tight and letting go.’ 1

It is not until later in life that one becomes aware the toys we unconsciously connected exciting personal narratives with as children, actually held adult references of an entirely different context. Aware that the actual meaning carried in many objects goes over the heads of most kids, Chris Hargreaves’ exhibition, Super Heroes, recalls the sense of mystery in childhood, where objects and toys are connected with all manner of unexpected stories through colourful young imaginations.

There is a case to argue that children these days are often cotton-balled when compared with previous generations. Imagining oneself as being elsewhere through play and unexpectedly discovering the boundaries of your own corporeality through near misses and occasional accidents is after all a part of growing up. Hargreaves ‘Swings and Roundabouts’ (2012), which presents five glass swings at variously staggered heights, is a reminder of what adults are all too aware of when watching kids play, that up to a certain age they are full of ideas but not necessarily endowed with an understanding of cause and effect.

As with super hero characters, objects from childhood bearing war references and recreations of objects designed for violence (such as guns and military vehicle models) can through the imagination of a child, inversely inspire an interest in something more peaceful and sublime than firing bullets in malice. ‘Gold Leader’, ‘To Infinity and Beyond’, ‘Richard’s Drone’, and ‘Cumulus’ (all 2012), are works based on the Lockheed F117 Nighthawk ground attack aircraft. Infamously employed in the 1990-1991 Gulf War due to having a very small radar signature 0.025 m2, Hargreaves’ works have received imaginative surface treatments, including imagery of clouds and outer space that play on the creative potential of stealth camouflage.

Some may wonder why many children are drawn to violent iconography, and may question whether an innate capacity for violence is something we are born with. The work of Japanese artist, Yoshitomo Nara, has often courted such discussion. This is understandable in part as his manga-inspired paintings of child characters have often featured nasty expressions and carried small weapons. Nara says ‘I kind of see the children among other, bigger, bad people all around them, who are holding bigger knives’.2 In essence, what it comes down to is that children occupy our world, for better or worse. The magic of childhood is seeing things as fantastical and even out of this world, when they are actually of our world and often more base than we would admit.

Matt Blomeley, October 2012

Notable Serenity Installation

Notable Serenity at Blue Oyster

Notable Serenity


In this sculptural installation by Auckland-based artist Chris Hargreaves, Notable Serenity (2012), participants are invited to visually and audibly contemplate an experimental composition that describes our geographic home in the South Pacific.


Similar to Halo, a work he completed in 2010 for the Manukau Festival of the Arts, for this new work a number of layers have been mapped into an overriding Midi score. Comprised of intricately crafted objects and sounds that taken together present an atonal composition, Notable Serenity is primarily built around four spoken word ‘roles’. These readings, borrowed from scientific texts, are defined in musical terms as: Soprano (Clouds), Alto (Resource Management Act), Tenor (Geology) and Bass (Tectonics).


The disjunctive rush of voices reading technical texts in Notable Serenity is a reminder that one is usually best to subjugate the desire to obtain facts in order to first listen. If there is a fault, it is perhaps merely that those of us who are not scientists have the easiest route to engage with this machine-like installation, being that we will not bring to this work the same accumulated technical knowledge of the installation’s auditory content as others may.


In addition to being a metaphor for the complexity of our environment – which we have continuously struggled to understand for centuries – Notable Serenity generates a sense of the machine-related anxiety that has pervaded humanity since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution. Prompting us to cultivate a careful and observant attitude, rather than searching for definitions, the sociologist, Richard Sennett, has a similarly open-minded stance to Hargreaves. Describing the enlightenment philosopher Diderot’s position at the dawning machine era, he writes:


‘The enlightened way to use a machine is to judge its powers, fashion its uses, in light of our own limits rather than the machine’s potential. We should not compete against the machine. A machine, like any model, ought to propose rather than command, and humankind should certainly walk away from command to imitate perfection. Against the claim of perfection we can assert our own individuality, which gives distinctive character to the work we do.’ [1]


While Notable Serenity may be intended – similar to Diderot’s machine – as a tool for considering our physical environment, it also serves as a reminder that it is beneficial to get lost occasionally in contemplation. Visual art and music are of course two absorbing ways to do just that. Hargreaves abstraction is not environmental science, politics nor philosophy, but it can be considered a reflection of what they, individually and collectively, may represent. [2]


Matt Blomeley, 4 June 2012

[1] Sennett, Richard, The Craftsman, Penguin, London, 2009 (pp105,106)

[2] Lütticken, Sven, Stop Making Sense, Meaning Liam Gillick (ed. Szewczyk, M et al.), MIT Press, Massachusetts, 2009 (pp40). I believe the same definition applies to Hargreaves work as Lütticken writes of Gillick: ‘That Gillick’s objects and installations reflect the becoming-design of abstraction does not, of course, mean that his work is design, merely that it reflects, and reflects on, the status of design as the current paradigm of Gestaltung through its use of post-painterly design elements and its coded implementations of a concept that can be reused and adapted to different situations.’

notable serenity

I have a sculptural sound installation coming up at Blue Oyster Art Project Space in Dunedin during June/July.

A massive thank you to Sosol Sound for making this project possible.

More to follow:


Currently working on some composition for my show at Blue Oyster Gallery in Dunedin!

New studio/workshop

The new studio/workshop is finally taking shape. The original building was a milking shed constructed around the 1920’s and at about 50 square meters will be a vast improvement on my current space.

new additions

Internal Framework for Observable Reality

In the book Timaeus, Plato presents the idea that the Universe was created to resemble a geometric progression; triangles form Platonic solids and the basic building blocks of the universe.

“a description of what is changeless, fixed and clearly intelligible will be changeless and fixed, while a description of what changes and is likely, will also change and be just likely. As being is to becoming, so is truth to belief. Therefore, in a description of the physical world, one should not look for anything more than a likely story”.
– Extract from Plato’s Timaeus

Internal Framework for Observable Reality. 2011

Aluminium, Marine grade Plywood, Photographic Vinyl, Treated Pine.

Approximately 1800mm(H) x 1200mm(W) x 1200mm (D)

For enquiries regarding this work please contact me here.



The Waikato Sculpture Trust presents:

‘Summer, sky above earth below’, an exhibition of NZ sculpture
Curated by Andrew Clifford

For further information please contact Sarah Anderson at 07 8240733 or [email protected]

The Sculpture Park
Waitakaruru Arboretum
207 Scotsman Valley Rd
Tauwhare, Waikato
15kms east of Hamilton


rolling clouds

Imagery for an upcoming work… Sky Above, Earth Below curated by Andrew Clifford. For more info please click here.