Constable Country

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Constable Country installation Art at Wharepuke

Constable Country 2012/13 – ongoing

Constable Country is an ongoing transdisciplinary project involving installation of found reproductions, printmaking, video, digital drawing and digital prints.

When I was young my grandmother used to take me to Dedham Vale in Suffolk where John Constable set some of his most famous paintings.  She also used to paint her own copies and sell these to friends sometimes changing the colours slightly to match their home décor.

Constable Country exhibition shot

Constable is a quintessentially English artist and I am struck by how many reproductions of his work I find in New Zealand.  I began collecting these reproductions from charity shops and from on-line auction sites where some pieces were being offered for large sums with listings such as ‘is this an antique?’ and ‘signed and dated.’

constable country collagraph carborundum
The Hay Wain 2013 Carborundum 1210 x 1820 mm (4 parts)
constable country
The Hay Wain (multiple postcard installation of digital drawing) 1210 x 1820 mm

Most people know at least some of Constable’s works through these reproductions in books, on tea towels and as framed ‘prints’ but few, particularly in New Zealand, will have seen the originals and few are aware that his major works are 4 feet x 6 feet ( 1210 x 1820 mm) in size.

The collected reproductions are displayed in groups that make up a 4 x 6 foot area to show the size of these originals.

Hay Wain – installation of reproduction Constables – 1210 x 1820 mm

Also included is a print ‘The Hay Wain’ the same size as the original paintings that responds to Constable’s works, a digital iPad drawing made over a picture of The Hay Wain and a video of the drawing that shows this process and a commercially produced digital printed postcard of the same drawing arranged as a multiple in a 4 x 6 foot block.

The Hay Wain 2012 from Mark Graver on Vimeo.

The installation offers a number of different but connected dialogues such as:

  • My own childhood memories of place and my Grandmother
  • The reproduction, assimilation and appropriation of old master works
  • The introduction of the English landscape into New Zealand homes, a reminder of home and ancestry and/or another facet of the colonisation and anglicising of NZ by Europeans
  • The nature of the original compared to the reproduction and the traditional versus the digital within contemporary printmaking.

I re-visited the Stour Valley area  in August 2013 to collect images and video and to re-connect to the place.  This material will be used to continue the project and expand on these themes.