Wall works reflect and objects glow in Niki Hasting-McFall’s exhibition ‘Have a Little Faith’ at Milford Galleries Dunedin. Hasting-McFall explores and plays upon the fleeting nature of life and the inevitability of death. Her two and the three dimensional artworks are intrinsically interrelated. Connections and relationships become apparent within the symbols of her work. Symbols accessed from a variety of sources (from early European painting to folk tales, from biblical imagery to modern technologies), speak across culture and history. Inspired by the Vanitas tradition of painting, Niki Hastings-McFall questions the validity of faith and delves into her own encounters with mortality.
‘Adam and Maiden’ stand distraught in the Garden of Eden. Hastings-McFall has fashioned a detailed and intricate light-box work that brings a well-known story into a contemporary sphere while addressing traditional and historic influences of paintings history. Skeletons, a snake, a monkey, a tree, and Niki Hasting-McFall’s unique use of ‘fake’ flora all take part in a complex relationship between elements and symbols.
‘Swansong’ explores the transition from life to death, transformation, metamorphosis, changing form and reincarnation. Life is as fleeting as is music and inevitably we will all have to take the journey from life into death. A swan floats ready to transport a soul across the mirrored water as a skeleton angel figure plays a conch shell, summoning the spirits.
The journey of life is a common element within this show and Niki Hastings-McFall. Road signs help us navigate through our everyday urban environments and Niki Hastings-McFall cleverly uses the road side vinyl to remind us that we are on a journey everyday. Her vinyl works glow and flicker, are they warning us or protecting us?
‘Flock’ shows a group of airplanes, like a flock of birds that make a pattern reflective of Polynesian breast plates (used for protection). A waterfall of shimmering vinyl is revealed in the studies ‘Papase’ea 1 & 2’. Papase’ea a waterfall in Samoa is visited as a site to jump off and plunge into the pool below. This work symbolises a ‘leap of faith’ or taking the steps towards a positive way forward.
Niki Hastings-McFall skilfully creates a common aesthetic that is distinctively her own; transforming known symbols, meanings and art practices into an individual and accessible visual language. She confidently plays with materials, media, light, symbolism and space, providing us with a variety of works that together and individually address issues that are often so difficult to fathom; the journey of life, faith in the world and the inevitability of death.
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