Simon Ingram on Maddie Leach

in

Maddie Leach's Ice Rink and Lilac Ship

Gallery Six, Waikato Museum of Art and History / Te Whare Taonga o Waikato
July 2002

Potentially one of the highlights of New Zealand's 2002
exhibition calendar is Maddie Leach's Ice Rink and Lilac Ship. A
stretch of ice purpose built for skating upon ran 28 of this writer's
paces down the length of a generously sized well lit gallery
space. In an adjoining gallery, a slow contemplative video
projection of massive ship passing over ocean all in Lilac,
seeming to act as sounding board, increasing the resonance of
the star attraction: The Ice Rink.

Like much new art exhibited recently in public galleries in New
Zealand, The Ice Rink's supporting material suggests the work
in question has a dialogue with modernism, ". the work can
serve as an unusual piece of minimalist sculpture ." Indeed it
could, but is there such a need? 28 paces of ice, a collection of
delighted viewers becoming participants, cool frosted air all
seem somehow constrained by what might just be an
unnecessary, possibly constraining, catch-all distinction.
Parents and children alike cordially cued together. Bobbing,
wobbling and gliding off down the strip, they seemed to actualize
the work according to their actions and interactions with the ice
and others. No need a discourse of minimalism, then. Work like
this is able to realize a kind of plenitude not because it is coded
with information about art, historical or otherwise, or because of
cultural resonance. Rather it is because materiality matches
what one might call its 'idea driver' seamlessly.

The artist, who has made a feature of her work a certain
commitment to ice skating, mentioned that she had chosen to
steer clear of sequins, the Strictly Ballroom scenario. One might
say that Paul Mercurio's pants are traded for the stealth and
addiction to winter of Peter Hoeg's wonderfully atmospheric Miss
Smilla's Feeling for Snow with great success in what is a very
good exhibition by this young New Zealand artist.

Simon Ingram