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.’


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.

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.

Heavier than Air Object #5

Heavier than Air Object #5


North American White Oak (Quercus spp), Rimu (Dacrydium cupressinum)

1200mm(L) x 1000mm(W) x 420mm (H)


This work is part of the indoor show at the biannual exhibition, Sculpture in the Gardens located at the Auckland Botanic Gardens.

To visit Sculpture in the Gardens please click here.

For inquiries or further information regarding this work please contact me here.

John Hurrell Review

Hargreave’s mirror pup tent mesmerises with its silvery stainless steel flanks confusingly reflecting the trees and sky

John Hurrell is a New Zealand writer, artist, curator and editor of eyeCONTACT blog site. He recently reviewed Brick Bay Sculpture Park and my work Blind Refuge which will be on display until the end of the year. I am currently working on a new piece for Brick Bay.

Read more here.

The Halo Project

The dawn chorus is silenced by jet engines… metronomic steps are interrupted by an authoritarian loudspeaker… ebbing waves are broken by playful children…


Artist Chris Hargreaves creates a stunning collision of the sounds of the Manukau region with his sculptural new media exhibition at Uxbridge Centre of Arts as part of the Manukau Festival of Arts 2010.

Audio Track Listing:

1. A low hum in the void.
2. Blessings of cross-cultural harmonics
3. Pronunciation of environmental scales
4. Prelude to a Valdivian forrest
5. Concentric glory at 12 Hz

Essay by Matt Blomeley here.

Catalogues are available, please contact me.