Touch a feature of Puke Ariki exhibition

6 June 2014

By Holly Bagge
Polished stone, woollen blanket, pieces of plastic milk bottles and knitted wool are just some of the objects and textures that visitors will be able to touch in Puke Ariki’s latest exhibition, Home Work: Taranaki Art Now, on in New Plymouth from 7 June to 24 August.

Opening night of Home Work: Taranaki Art Now showing Conny Bethell's Teddies at Rest, an installation that visitors are encouraged to touch Photo credit: lavamedia courtesy of Puke ArikiChanelle Carrick, Puke Ariki’s Curator of Pictorial Collections, says the exhibition includes six works that visitors can touch directly and six “touch stations”, made with different materials sourced by the artists and positioned near the works they relate to.

“We came up with six different stations that are placed with certain works and contain samples of different materials that people can touch instead of touching the actual works,” she says.

Stone sculpture

Chanelle says the idea was sparked when Puke Ariki asked local artist Anna Korver, whose stone sculpture is in the exhibition, if visitors would be able to touch her work.

“Anna said they wouldn’t be able to touch it because it is quite delicate and could be marked. However, she provided us with a sample, a piece of polished stone, to go with her beautiful stone sculpture."

Puke Ariki’s Educator Erin Flanigan then suggested the idea of multiple touch stations.

Chanelle says that touch is an important part of how we experience the world. “For people who are blind or vision impaired, it must be frustrating not being able to touch something. This is a way to provide them with a stimulating experience and will hopefully give them a better idea of what the work is about.”

What does it feel like?

The touchable artworks and stations has icons to show visitors what can be touched. There are also Puke Ariki hosts in the exhibition space to let visitors know which artworks they can touch, Chanelle says. “The hosts can also prompt the visitors with questions such as ‘What does it feel like?’”

Chanelle expects the exhibition will be great for school groups as well as general visitors. “Our education team will use the works that can be touched in their education programme, which focusses on sensory experience.

“Then for our general visitors, they just want to be able to touch stuff. It’s something that many of us have an urge to do at exhibitions.” 


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