Hours of operation

Always humming
Kate Newby

17 July -
29 August 2015

200 Gertrude Street

200 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy

Opening: Friday 17 July, 6–8pm

Gertrude Contemporary was pleased to present a new, major exhibition by New Zealand artist Kate Newby, featuring a newly commissioned collaboration with composer Samuel Holloway. Titled Always humming, the exhibition took over both downstairs galleries and extended to the rooflines of buildings on Gertrude Street, and into its back alleyways, creating a fluid relation between indoors and outdoors. Always humming was an exercise in creating an atmospheric experience rather than a series of discrete objects. Its force was anti-climactic, continuous, infectious; what Jennifer Kabat has described as ‘radically slight.’

In contrast to Newby’s then-recent series of puddle works, which drew viewers’ attention to the pavement underfoot, all the works in this exhibition were elevated, leaving nothing to see on the floors or walls. A drop ceiling made from large panels of fabric mediated a warm glow emanating from the ceiling. One section of the fabric ceiling travelled from New Zealand where it was washed in the ocean (salt is a natural fixative) then left on the lawn for several weeks to gather information from the weather and environment. Another of the fabric panels was sewn in an upstairs studio at Gertrude Contemporary then hung out on a washing line in industrial Brunswick for several weeks.

Across the street, on the top ledge of one of the buildings opposite the gallery, Newby installed a cluster of glazed ceramic shapes. Viewable from inside the gallery, as well as from the street outside of gallery hours, the ceramics operated unlike conventional public sculptures—almost imperceptible, perhaps even accidental.

In the back alleyway, where the vans for neighbouring shops Aunt Maggie’s and Harry Evans and Son move in and out, Newby and Holloway created a wind chime. Using clay, metal, and glass, the wind chime interacted and responded to the environment of the alleyway: the weather, the trees, the day-to-day bustle of the backstreets. Holloway drew sound back into the gallery, creating a sonic connection between the back laneway and the gallery’s interiors. Much like the other parts of this exhibition, this installation concerned attention—it was about listening rather than hearing.

In response to a question about the ephemeral nature of her practice, Newby has said: ‘I often wonder if things get taken for granted when they are permanent. I know for me, I stop seeing a sculpture if I know it’s going to be there tomorrow, so it becomes given, invisible.’ With the gallery’s impending move from its thirty-year home on Gertrude Street, Newby’s commission created an atmosphere in which viewers could see, hear and frame the gallery and its environs in a new way—making it visible again, if only for a moment.

Kate Newby’s then-recent solo exhibitions include: I memorized it I loved it so much, Laurel Gitlen, New York; I feel like a truck on a wet highway, Lulu, Cuauhtémoc, Mexico, 2014; Maybe I won’t go to sleep at all., La Loge, Brussels, 2014; Let the other thing in, Fogo Island Gallery, Newfoundland, 2013; What a day., Hopkinson Mossman, Auckland, 2013; and How funny you are today, Green Acres Garden, Clinton Hill, Brooklyn, 2013. Recent group exhibitions include: Ordering Nature, Marianne Boesky, New York; Where the trees line the water that falls asleep in the afternoon, curated by Chris Sharp, P420, Bologna; NEW15, curated by Matt Hinkley, Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne, 2015; An imprecise Science, Artspace, Sydney; The January February March (with Tim Saltarelli, Jennifer Kabat and Anna Moschovakis), New York, 2015; Eraser, Laurel Gitlen, New York, 2015; The Promise, curated by Axel Weider, Arnolfini, Bristol, 2014; Portmanteaux, Hopkinson Mossman, Auckland, 2014; Thin Air, curated by Brooke Babington, Slopes, Melbourne, 2014. Forthcoming exhibitions include a solo exhibition at Laurel Doody,  Los Angeles in October 2015; and the group exhibition Inside the City at GAK Gesellschaft für Aktuelle Kunst, Bremen in July 2015. Kate Newby is represented by Hopkinson Mossman, Auckland, New Zealand.

Samuel Holloway is a composer based in Auckland, New Zealand. His work has been performed by prominent artists and ensembles in Asia, Europe and North America, including Klangforum Wien, the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, Stroma, and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra. Holloway has recently undertaken a number of projects with the collective et al., most recently for the common good, West den Haag, The Netherlands, 2015.

Samuel Holloway’s participation in this exhibition was possible thanks to the support of Unitec Institute of Technology.

This exhibition was kindly supported by Chartwell Trust.

Photos: Christo Crocker


  • Kate Newby

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Gertrude Contemporary

21-31 High Street
Preston South VIC
Melbourne, Australia

Opening hours:
Tuesday–Sunday 11am–5pm

Gertrude Glasshouse

44 Glasshouse Road
Collingwood VIC
Melbourne, Australia

Opening hours:
Thursday–Saturday 12–5pm