Nicol’s Brave New World

Nicol Sanders-O’Shea’s first public art project is a series of flags on Durham Street. Photo: John Borren.

The flag exhibition, titled Brave New World, is Nicol Sanders-O’Shea’s first public art project. She normally exhibits in galleries, so was excited to take on a large-scale display.

“I was really willing for the challenge,” says Nicol.

“But at the same time, I wanted the works to end up as a street exhibition. That’s what the flags are, which is quite cool.

“The challenge of street work being so public is something I hadn’t had to deal with before.

“I was really mindful of being quite playful and trying to engage all audiences.”

Initially Nicol was unsure about using Covid references in her work because she didn’t know if people would respond to it or turn off.

“Being in New Zealand, we’re so sheltered. There were no cases and we were at level one - it was all freedom and all good.

“But then with Delta it changed again, so that's when it kind of made it more obvious for me to go there.”

In Nicol’s printmaking she always uses old images and illustrations, and she mixed them with Covid-19 imagery and government messages for this exhibition.

“It really resonates with me how ridiculous some of these images look when they’re taken out of context.

“So when you put the two quite different contexts together, you can have a bit of fun and create some odd stories.”

With a lot of the 15 screen printed flags being created during the recent lockdown, the Covid symbolism also seems appropriate.

She enjoyed having more time for her creative pursuits during level four.

“It’s important for wellbeing to continue making work. I couldn’t imagine not making any artwork. I don’t think I could handle that.”

Brave New World is part of the Tauranga Arts Festival. It was commissioned by Sonya Korohina of Supercut Projects with funding from Creative New Zealand.

Sonya wanted to ensure the project was outside in case alert levels changed, so people could still view the work.

Nicol says this was a really good call with how alert levels have been changing. The Tauranga Arts Festival has also had to cancel all live performances because of alert level restrictions.

“It’s nice to be able to view art work any time of the day as well,” says Nicol.

The flag project also features in the City Art Walk app. The app provides a self-guided tour of outdoor art in Tauranga’s CBD.

Brave New World will fly on Durham Street until November 12.


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