Reflections on New Zealand and other Oddities” was the name of an exhibition by Laurie Collins at Gary Miles’ Bradley Hall Fine Art Gallery, 4 Old Telegraph Rd West, Drouin West. There was a difference as I was sharing the exhibition with my wife Marian.

An artist’s calling is to illustrate and interpret life, including holidays, so Laurie has decided to use this inspiration as part of his latest exhibition of large and small, metal and junk sculptures. Marian is also showing some of the photographs taken during their journey.” These are just holiday snaps but I loved the gorgeous country and I wanted others to enjoy it too” says Marian, who hasn’t exhibited before. “Spectacular views were everywhere for admiring, even for someone with my limited mobility.” Some of Laurie’s captivating small ink and wash drawings will illustrate their travels as well as a selection of his more whimsical pieces done during the year.

In June, Laurie and Marian spent 2 weeks holidaying in New Zealand. They travelled only in the North Island looking at Art and Sculpture, Galleries and shops, museums and nature. “We were a little handicapped by my falling over some rough pavement on the first day of our holidays and breaking 3 ribs.” says Marian “but a holiday is too precious to waste so we kept going ,although in some pain and with more limited activities.” “Bungy jumping and white water rafting was definitively off the agenda after that” says Laurie, with a grin. The couple bought back a load of photographs and a book full of inspiration, ideas and drawings

.New Zealand wines were showcased by the Collins’ kiwi family member, sister-in-law Pauline Collyer, on the opening night, in keeping with the theme.

List of works
Big Sculptures: Pacific Rim, Ludo, Earth, air, Fire, Water, Life, Symmetry, Boat, Society, Overlap, Shell, Playing the blues, Games of life( Chess) , Unraveling, Fish form
Small sculptures: Spider Girl, Hills Hoist, Swing Pole, Box Boy, Flying Fish, Flying, Raft of the imagination, Catch, Kick, Where I want to be, Birdrider, Point of view, Just do it, The board, Helicopter boy, Chained to the machine, Balancing act, Paper plane, Snakes and ladders, Roller girl, Arising, a bucket of moonbeams.
Sketches
The view, Driving, Raglan, Avoiding the traps, Flower dance, the tree, Landscape, the river, Horizon, the bay, birds, Penguins, where she fell, tower, aim, the dream, waiting, sheep, elephant woman, evening, Red kite ride, umbrella, a few notes, the road, mask, lunch, fairy queen, cage, pastorale, bridge, branches, cat, flower ride, rugged up ,dance of life

Bold titles sold at exhibition

New Zealand Exhibition 2010






 

Dragon - 2013 (SOLD)
Dragon
This is an extension of the forms I used for the New Zealand Exhibition. Except this time it seems a bit denser and simpler. I liked the contrast of the curved smooth inside of “shell” with the spiky outside and I had this piece drawn in the sketch book at the same time. It suggests a dragon tail just disappearing from view( to me) but really is just a further exploration of the spiral and curved forms.I have added to the spiral in 2013 and I feel it is better
flying - 2011 (SOLD)
flying
I used to look at birds and think that if they could do it surely I could too. I was always interested in planes, parachutes and hang gliders all with the aim of capturing this sort of feeling. The nearest I got was when I did parachuting once magic. Then I broke my leg landing and that sort of stopped me following up on this . Ah well, my imagination goes flying!This was for the full play exhibition at Fish creek
Raft of the imagination - 2011 (SOLD)
Raft of the imagination
The imagination is the greatest aid to play ever and this is what this piece sort of tries to suggest . On a raft ( as with your imagination) there is no real direction, you drift with the currents and winds, its made by yourself and you can have as many people as you like on board.
My piece is set on the back of a head and has a male and female figure. There is a touch of playacting about the poses and it looks a bit like any story you create in your headhero and heroinebut as to where you end up well thats the fun of a story that you make up as you go along!
a bucket of moonbeams - 2010 (SOLD)
a bucket of moonbeams
This is a recycled piece. I made a couple of piece for the Blarney books show and one involved Alan Marshall being lowered down a mine in a bucket. It was appropriate for the show but not a piece that would have much meaning to other people. I liked my guy in the bucket and this is the first time I really have made a moon supported by a wire supporting a character dangling from it. What does it mean?.. well it is a pleasing combination of pieces and I find it quite whimsical/fun and to think of doing such a thing heaks back to the infinite possibilities of childhood.
Air - 2010
Air
I did 5 pieces for a show in Lockhart entitled spirit of the land. sub-themed Elements I thought they would also be appropriate for this show in that the concerns of the pieces are universal.
In this piece I have used a flowing forms representing flowing air and included bubble shapes. The polluted air is represented by the darker materials and the fresh air( of which there is less) is represented by white.
I live in the Latrobe valley and there are times when a grey/brown haze drifts up from the valley or down from Melbourne. Where I live ( Jindivick) is not directly in the path but it does tend to make me aware of difference in air quality.
I used to go to college at RMIT and our course was on the 12th floor. In looking t the building across the road a subtle gradation was visible on the concrete. That closer to the street was a lot darker and that closer to the 12th floor was considerably lighter. This was in the day of lead based petrol and some change has occurred since. However, we went to China two years ago and the city we visited was enshrouded in a haze such that you were not aware of the mountains only a short distance away. In New Zealand because there is different geography you could really appreciate the air quality.
arising - 2010 (SOLD)
arising
I guess I am still playing with notions of floating and flying. I like the fact that she is just floating up and seemingly gracefully. A meaning?.....well no real idea except the gentle beautyIn new Zealand there was a ball set in mid air ..just floating.. perhaps that had an influence too.
Balancing Act - 2010 (Withdrawn from Sale)
Balancing Act
Again this is an idea that has universal applications�I must admit these guys are certainly giving themselves a challenge with not only their own weight but the use of balls as well. We did see something similar in a show in China but these guys are not really referring to that.. just the daily task of living and making the difficult seem easy. Hope your balancing act is as good as this one!
bird rider - 2010 (SOLD)
bird rider
This is the first of the small pieces for the New Zealand show and the idea of riding an ostrich appealed.
I have made people riding normal birds in some of my small sculptures but I also make quite a lot of "tall birds" in a sort of ostrich form. Perhaps I was remembering when as a kid I saw Disney's "Swiss Family Robinson which had a scene of kids riding ostriches along the beach... well I'm not sure but my imagination turned this way.
Boat - 2010 (SOLD)
Boat
This is another of the New Zealand based pieces. I found two handmade oars at the local wood recycler( transfer station) years ago and I brought them home with the idea of doing something with them. One of the New Zealand ideas was this section of a spiral and I added the top and bottom to give it a canoe shape as Maori war canoes were a large part of their existence. It called out for the oars to be added and I reckon it looks great.
Box boy - 2010 (Recycled)
Box boy
I think one of the things I worry about is the amount of time kids now spend playing on a screen, computer games, wii, x-box and even mobile phone games. Some of my best moments of play were with the most unstructured materials, such as bits of palings for guns, cardboard boxes for cars, houses and boats and lids of tins for all sorts of things. I was not so unusual as one of the common stories is of parents buying their kid a large something and the kid spending more time playing with the box it came in!
This unstructured imaginative play is a really important thing I feel and various research seems to support this belief. Parents now seem to feel the need to organise kids lives to be learning,or productive every second of the day. Give me a cardboard box any day!
Bucket of moonbeams - 2010 (SOLD)
Bucket of moonbeams
This is a recycled piece. I made a couple of piece for the Blarney books show and one involved Alan Marshall being lowered down a mine in a bucket. It was appropriate for the show but not a piece that would have much meaning to other people. I liked my guy in the bucket and this is the first time I really have made a moon supported by a wire supporting a character dangling from it. What does it mean?.. well it is a pleasing combination of pieces and I find it quite whimsical/fun and to think of doing such a thing heaks back to the infinite possibilities of childhood.
Catch - 2010
Catch
Another piece of childhood memories is hours spent with a ball throwing, catching, bouncing etc. It gives you persistence, confidence develops and you master a skill and it is a very sociable activity.
This girl was part of another piece called off the wall and I broke it up as it was done for a specific show and it was too big for most peoples environments. This was one part and I liked the simplicity of it. I added a friend to throw to and now I feel it fits this show perfectly.
This was for the full play exhibition at Fish Creek
chained to the machine - 2010 (Recycled)
chained to the machine
Chess Piece - 2010
Chess Piece

This was in the “full play “ exhibition at Fish Creek.



 I did a series of pieces on the games I played as a kid and this was called “Games of Life”. 1 “Chess”



I used to play and it was one of the best games. I was so absorbed by the thinking and how many different possibilities for each move. They used to have chess sets in the Cafe at Preston Tech. and it was quite a fine thing to do at lunch or recess. Marian’s family also played chess but they were really good!



I nearly forgot it as a game as I don’t have many friends who play it these days. I loved trying to suggest the whole game in the one piece and I am very happy with my finished result. I know most chess sets don’t have “hearts” but it also suggested card games and it helps give an extra colour in the piece and suggest that although chess is a game of the intellect it is also about emotion too.


Black King” was made in 2010 with recycled steel.
Chess( games of life) - 2010
Chess( games of life)
I used to play chess and it was one of the best games. I was so absorbed by the thinking and how many different possibilities for each move. They used to have chess sets in the Cafe at Preston Tech. and it was quite a fine thing to do at lunch or recess. Marians family also played chess but they were really good!
I nearly forgot it as a game as I dont have many friends who play it these days.
I loved trying to suggest the whole game in the one piece and I am very happy with my finished result. I know most chess sets dont have hearts but it also suggested card games and it helps give an extra colour in the piece. I altered the colour recently as the white was too hard to maintain
Earth - 2010 (SOLD)
Earth
Earth( element)
I did these pieces for a show at Lockhart ( NSW) which had a theme of elementsThere are traditionally 5 elements in historyEarth, air/wind, fire, water and Ether.
I have chosen to stay with 4 of these and added one more which is "life".
"Earth"( garbage dump)
In this piece I have shown a blackened earth landscape with a sun above. The landscape forms are made from metal "junk" which is meant to symbolize the lack of care many of us have shown for the actual land.
It can be taken as a depopulated landscape with the metal forms being reabsorbed back into nature.
I have been reading "the road" by Cormac McCarthy and his depiction is of a post apocalyptic world with just a few human remnants and this could be part of the inspiration for this piece.
I am always amazed that the most mundane objects, bolts, bits of scrap metal, when arranged in one of my pieces have a beauty beyond themselves. To a degree this was also present after the "black Saturday " bush fires when the traditional green cover was gone but the blackened trunks and grey land had a very different beauty.
Fire - 2010 (SOLD)
Fire
This is another of the element pieces. As a person brought up with incinerators and open fires I have a fondness for it.
I did not feel fondly towards it when it was approaching my house in the Black Saturday fires( It stopped about 1km away) .
In understanding global warming I am now aware that timber stores carbon and that the more we burn the greater the carbon component in the air. I still have an open fire( well Koonara really) but my concern is with large areas that are burnt to remove unwanted vegetation some of this is necessary at present but some countries ( Indonesia, Brazil) seem to go well and truly overboard in clearing country this way.
I have branches to clear on my property but I now look at mulching most of it rather than burning it..perhaps every little bit counts?
fish boat form - 2010 (SOLD)
fish boat form
Another piece inspired by New Zealand oval/shield forms but also perhaps some echoes of 60s sculptural shapes I have seen somewhere in my life. It developed from a squiggle in my sketch book and I was originally aiming for an abstract face but as I added more and more to it it took up the form of either a fish or a surfboard especially when I added the lines under it.
fish form - 2010 (SOLD)
fish form
Another piece inspired by New Zealand oval/shield forms but also perhaps some echoes of 60s sculptural shapes I have seen somewhere in my life. It developed from a squiggle in my sketch book and I was originally aiming for an abstract face but as I added more and more to it it took up the form of either a fish or a surfboard especially when I added the lines under it.
flying fish - 2010 (SOLD)
flying fish
It is so interesting to see the various skills and abilities of animals. When I saw flying fish I was so impressed and as I commented in flying, it is just a magic experience for those who cant do it! The idea of riding a flying fish is one of those fantastic ideas that just appeal to my sense of silliness or whimsy!
Yee haa!
Helicopter boy - 2010 (SOLD)
Helicopter boy
Another of my flying pieces. I did another helicopter character sometime in the past but this one is different in form in that he is sitting on the seat..and the experience seems a bit wilderah to fly in such a personal way
Hills hoist - 2010 (SOLD)
Hills hoist
As a kid ,the hills hoist was a wonderful device to hang from and swing on. In one of my very early exhibitions I made such a scene but this time the handle of a hills hoist appeared in my pile of recycling material. I wanted to use it and the characters swinging on it suggests quite effectively the same scene at least I think so. I think one of the delights of childhood is that we made our own fun with whatever came to hand and the clothesline was a readymade playground as long as mum didnt catch us!
Just do it - 2010 (SOLD)
Just do it
Leaping off the doghouse has a bit of a reference to snoopy and his doghouse Sopwith camel and I used to spend a lot of time reading comics and cartoon books. The idea of flying obviously has lots of adherents. This picture is sort of a Leonardo device. Im sure we all have played with the idea of making some sort of wings and just giving it a go. I note the birdman contests around the place and while I admire the ideas I feel I am a touch too heavy and .fragile.. to really give it a good go now
kick - 2010 (SOLD)
kick
I dont know what it was with that piece but I mustnt have photographed it. This is the only photo I can find with it in it!
Life - 2010 (SOLD)
Life
This not a traditional element but I feel it is something which is essential to any appreciation of our earth.
Life is such an amazing thing and I have chosen to represent this as an uncurling green shoot coming from a black earth and having black leaves. This is a common symbol in a lot od New Zealand art
This sort of reflects the epicormic growth on the sides of the gum trees after the fires and odd green shoots poking through the layers of ash.
I love the fact that life is so resilient. I am not sure about human kind and if this global warming continues there are definitely challenges ahead. However I feel some form of life will keep struggling on!
Overlap - 2010
Overlap
This is a traditional Maori form, sometimes called crossover and representing a bonding of friendship, two lives becoming one for eternity.I loved the simplicity of the form and the almost mobius strip type effect of the back becoming the front as the points cross. Such a simple form but so very satisfying. Certainly there is not much change from the original form with the exception of the materialsbut bearing in mind the original meaning two collections of junk becoming one harmonious form .. it has a kind of poetry to it.
Pacific Rim - 2010
Pacific Rim
I saw a necklace form in New Zealand with evenly spaced forms around a ring.. I liked the idea and created stylized faces in each of the boxes..suggesting the range of peoples around the pacific.... the ring itself is fairly simple and quiet.. Pacific in fact!
It certainly is different from the other Maori based forms but again the idea was to show the inspiration I have received from the trip to NZ and this piece called out to be made.
Paper Plane - 2010 (SOLD)
Paper Plane
I loved making paper planes. I could only do the simple ones but even they were a delight in that they would often fly perfectly and sometimes do the completely unexpected. I always though it would be cool to actually make one big enough to use. Although I did worry slightly about how it would land some of mine landed point first! Anyway this is the result of odd musings.
Playing the blues - 2010 (Recycled)
Playing the blues
I played guitar for a number of years and to be able to play an instrument is one of the joys of life. I dont do it much any more, but I still enjoy music in many of its forms. In thinking of this exhibition playing music seemed to be at least a part of the idea and the idea of doing a big note appealed immediately. There is a record company called Blue note so that suggested itself and if the note was going to be blue then obviously playing the blues was appropriate. The music on the side of the note is from an old blues tunethere is not really enough of it to get a good sound but it gives the idea. My little character is modelled on any guitarist and the stance and long hair sort of is typical of the species!
Point of view - 2010 (SOLD)
Point of view
This is another of my pieces that is ambiguous to me!..Is she upset and thinking of jumping? Or is she a girl in control who has chosen to climb to a height and sit on the edge? I think the latter but then I am a fairly positive person.
shell - 2010 (SOLD)
shell
I call this piece shell as it suggests a shell form with the angled its around the side and the spiral form in the middle. It is one of the pieces influenced by looking at New Zealand forms. The spiral form is common in many of the souvenirs and the angled pieces were on at least one structure we saw there. It is a common form in Maori art and I have used the form with my own interpretation..ie. the junk materials.
It suggests to me that as the shell is often created by secretions( offcasts) of the body to protect the animal inside so this spiky form protects the beautiful curves of the inner shape.
society - 2010 (SOLD)
society
I saw an art piece with a ball between two sloping forms and in the sketch book I drew a version of this piece.
I see it as a reflection of the country of NZ in that the ball is a patchwork of pieces( maori, pakeha( white folks) Islanders, Indians, refugees).. not all nicely fitted but making a society and the support being the country is not that level and the ball is suggesting that at any moment it might roll away but it isnt because it is welded. to the country. Its an unstable country geography wise yet the ball is adapted to the ups and downs.. so to speak.. of the country( very deep! But again a nice form . Simple but sort of strong too!)
spider girl - 2010 (SOLD)
spider girl
My friend Mark Olsen makes some fantastic spiders but I wanted to go beyond thatI seem to have a variety of things changing scale Fish. Birds and now a spider. My girl seems in control and it gives new meaning to stepping on a spider!.
.New Zealand? Well the idea is in the NZ book so I got the idea over there but as to any real NZ images.well not really. We have just been on a trip to Lockhart for a show and there is a man there ( Andrew Whitehead) who has made some fantastic stuff including a rain dragon and a giant spider coming down a silo! So perhaps that also was an influence
swing pole - 2010 (SOLD)
swing pole
Well before the days of pole dancing we used to do this sort of thing all the time..I havent done it for years! But just the right amount of grip and the momentum of a good run and you could swing around a pole very happily..once.twice etc and then just come to a standing stopsimple fun and simple challenges!( It works well for Batman too!)
Symmetry - 2010 (SOLD)
Symmetry
Symmetry
Symmetry comes from the evenness and reflection of the form. There were pieces in NZ where a whale tail was described and perhaps that is one of the influences. In looking through my sketch book this form is there I am not sure whether I copied the form from another art work or it was a development from the ideas I was seeing. Whichever, I have reinterpreted it with the junk materials and it has a suggestion of a zip . We bought a showerproof jacket on our trip and even this might have had an effect.
It was the first of the big pieces I made and I quite like its simplicity and strength
symmetry - 2010 (SOLD)
symmetry
Symmetry comes from the evenness and reflection of the form. There were pieces in NZ where a whale tail was described and perhaps that is one of the influences. In looking through my sketch book this form is there I am not sure whether I copied the form from another art work or it was a development from the ideas I was seeing. Whichever, I have reinterpreted it with the junk materials and it has a suggestion of a zip . We bought a showerproof jacket on our trip and even this might have had an effect.
It was the first of the big pieces I made and I quite like its simplicity and strength.
The board - 2010 (SOLD)
The board
Play can sometimes equate with terror. Usually when you first see the diving board it looks fine.until you climb it! Its worse if you are with friends sometimes its better as you put everything sensible on hold and just jumpbut if the self protection mechanism kicks in then its a real challenge to overcome the worry of doing a dive/ jump..especially with an audience of braver characters! I was never really bravebut not quite to this stagemind you I had a bit more to jump intobut then again..when you are up there the pool seems pretty small!
Unraveling - 2010 (SOLD)
Unraveling
This piece developed from some of the earlier NZ shapes I made and I liked the idea of unravelling the spiral. I then filled in the inner triangles so I had a surface to add colour. As I looked at it more it reminded me of when I first arrived in Warragul and joined the West Gippsland Arts and Craft association. They had a logo that was similar in some ways to this so perhaps I am mining my recesses as well as developing from my travelsOh I just looked up Ravel in the dictionaryI had not thought it existed but it does and means to tangle.
Unravelling - 2010 (SOLD)
Unravelling
UnRaveling
This piece developed from some of the earlier NZ shapes I made and I liked the idea of unravelling the spiral. I then filled in the inner triangles so I had a surface to add colour. As I looked at it more it reminded me of when I first arrived in Warragul and joined the West Gippsland Arts and Craft association. They had a logo that was similar in some ways to this so perhaps I am mining my recesses as well as developing from my travelsOh I just looked up Ravel in the dictionaryI had not thought it existed but it does and means to tangle.
.
water - 2010 (SOLD)
water
In this piece I have used a symbolic wave form and redone it from scrap metal. At its end is one last drop of unpolluted water using the traditional colour for water (blue)
I was amazed when various ocean sailors reported there were large areas of the ocean in which there were small and large particles of plastic in suspension.miles away from land. Also stories that plastic bags are big killers of sea life, turtles, seals etc. and of course the recent well disasters with oil pumped into the ocean off America( and north west Aust).
For something that our planet is noted for ( the blue planet) ,and something that comes free from the sky I am saddened that we have managed to wreck such a wonderful essential gift.
Where I want to be - 2010 (SOLD)
Where I want to be
Ladders are such useful thingsthey lead to all sorts of places you cant reach. To climb so highbut no further is a choice some of us have made in other aspects of our lives..and it is a feeling of comfort to know you have chosen a point where you have achieved what you want but dont feel compelled to go to the outer limits. My girl is quite content the view is fine and she is just enjoying where she is!