Wanda Gillespie is an Australian/New Zealand contemporary artist based in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland. The artist describes her sculptural works as a ‘reimagining of known forms’.
A belief in the spiritual potency of physical objects drives Gillespie's work. The artist chooses wood for ‘it’s energetic qualities’ describing it as ‘a conduit connecting to whenua and place’. Through pairings or groupings, a cause and effect occurs, an alchemy of material and space.
Over the past decade Gillespie has refined her craft as a woodcarver through the creation of evocative figurative sculpture; combining detailed and abstracted, ancient and contemporary form. Familiar objects are reimagined with alternate uses, history, culture and ceremony.
In recent years Gillespie has established a unique practice centred on the form of the abacus. With her bespoke interpretations of this ancient counting instrument, she explores systems of value and how, within them, the material, the pedagogic and the ceremonial can become entwined.
More recently Gillespie has created a series of figurative works including the artwork "Golden Boy" and the "Crossing the Rubicon" series, which will feature in this upcoming exhibition. This series of work was initially inspired by the torrential flooding at the start of 2023 in Aotearoa, which the artist experienced personally whilst at the start of an artists residency on Waiheke Island. The natural event provoked deep reflection on the consequences of rising sea levels for coastal communities and Pacific islands. As well as this, war waged throughout the world in 2023 and 2024 has made Gillespie contemplate the uncertainty the future holds for so many.
‘I envisioned a procession led by children who would be compelled to guide us through the impending, murky waters facing humanity. These figures embody a mythic, narrative perspective on an epoch of transition.’
Gillespie has established a significant practice with numerous solo exhibitions, awards and residencies over the past decade. Her solo projects have been funded by the Australian Arts Council, City of Melbourne, Arts Victoria, Creative New Zealand, and Heart of the City (Auckland Council). Her work has been included in several museum exhibitions including An Alternative Economics at the Institute of Modern Art, Numinosity at Contemporary Art Tasmania and Future Inheritance: 20 Speculative Objects for a Time to Come for the National Gallery of Victoria Design Week.
Gillespie holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Elam School of Fine Art, The University of Auckland (2003) and a Master of Fine Arts Research with First Class Honours from the Victorian College of the Arts, Melbourne University (2009). The artist also completed a Certificate in Whakairo – Māori wood carving at Te Wānanga o Aotearoa in 2022.
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