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  • Underwater Collective link and liven Spark venues

    By Stephanie Fawcett                            

    Windows around Hamilton are set to get makeovers from local artists Underwater Collective as part of the Spark Festival this week.

    Known for their signature characters, use of colour and the achaten-suisse.com unpredictable nature of their collaborative works, Underwater Collective has been working together since 2005 creating paintings and object-based installations, dabbling in street art and exhibiting work in galleries.

    Artist and group member Jared Benwell says the group began because the artists wanted to have fun with their work.

    Fellow collaborator Alister Selliman (pictured) agrees with him and adds that by working together there’s no limit to their ideas.

    “Three heads are better than one,” he says. “And, well, it gets work finished faster. It’s a lot of fun and I’d definitely rather be doing this than actual work.”

    In a 2009 essay on the group’s work, Wintec Moving Image Lecturer Paul Judge raved about the group’s use of imagery and endless inspiration.

    “Within the proliferation of visual culture nothing is beyond use, everything is a reference. The breakdown of high and low culture is a precondition for these artists, as is the preparedness to plunder from all and everything,” he writes. “The sheer visual invention is breathtaking, as is the employment of their illustrator’s technical skill.”

     Spark Festival Project Manager Susanna Wilford says that the window painting event grew out of Spark’s desire for a public art installation that tied the festival’s venues together in some way.

    “We got some great proposals but due to the timing of the funding round with the Hamilton City Council we were unable to get those underway,” she says. “To keep the concept of having art in the public domain alive – that’s not associated with the Wintec Campus and that’s related to Spark – we’ve worked with all the venues to link them to each other with the work of the Underwater Collective.”

    Underwater Collective approached Wilford with the idea of doing window painting after the group’s ‘Neo-Pop’ exhibition at Auckland’s The High Seas earlier this year where the artists drew on the venue’s windows.

    “We’re doing this to create public artworks really,” says Benwell. “There’s a real lack of them in the city.”

    Underwater Collective will be decorating Hamilton’s windows throughout the week at Wintec’s Hub, the Lido Cinema in Centre Place, the Waikato Museum, Ramp Gallery, Soda Inc. at the Meteor, and Frankton’s La Mezz gallery.

    The group will also show work at the Mull Up: Round Two exhibition being held at 587 Victoria St, Hamilton this week.