For background on the artist and works, see below.
About the ArtistOver the past 20 years, Mary McFarlane has developed a strong following among collectors for her transformations of mirrors, especially vintage pieces, into artworks full of mystery and memory, intensely personal to herself and to the viewer. Her latest series returns to the Waterfall motif, with acknowledgment to Colin McCahon’s influence on the waterfall becoming part of our visual identity. It marks the conclusion of McFarlane’s acclaimed five year series The Moon Knows, prompted by ideas about how to create the feeling the full moon inspires when it rises at certain times of the year, enormous and mystical, full of portent. The moon works had a very personal reference to the journey of Mary McFarlane and her late husband Ralph Hotere through the period of his illness – a subject which also inspired an extraordinary public installation exhibition in Dunedin in 2012. A followup exhibition, Rainlight, Hokianga, of exquisite new works evolving from this moon series, featured a sublime corona of pure gold dust worked into the back of the mirror, around moons featuring drifts of rainlight inspired by the brilliant sunshower which passed across the marae during her husband’s tangi. A graduate of the University of Canterbury (1986) and later the prestigious RMIT in Melbourne, Mary McFarlane has become best known for her work on vintage mirrors, carrying layers of meaning embedded in the history and forms of the mirrors themselves. Her actual process remains as mysterious as the moons themselves, as David Eggleton described in a review in Art New Zealand in 2012: ‘McFarlane has learnt how to endow her mirrors with magic, alluding to the aura of inner beauty, to the dark side of the self.’
The gallery is filled with intensely beautiful seams of silver spilling through blue-black darkness under gold-rimmed clouds. In returning to a theme of her work from earlier periods, she leaves behind the moon series to focus on an element strong in our visual history, dating back to William Hodges’ depiction of the Fiordland Cascades while voyaging with Captain Cook.
McFarlane has painted on vintage and antique mirrors for over 25 years, transforming the surface into rivers of light, uplifted in this very collectible series with pure gold. McFarlane has recently featured in several public gallery exhibitions including an installation Hikoi at the Wellington Museum of City and Sea and the Dunedin Public Art Gallery.
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