hinterland is a space that lies inland from the sea, beyond the edges
of a river, it is out of the way, few paths lead there, few people pass
through. Sandra Schmidt's works capture how such places feel, and how
such feelings can be made visual though form, and colour: she
constructs terrains which have centres ablaze with light and edges that
flip out into pattern.
works are thick with texture. They seem timeless, like small vibrating
snapshots of the future. They are full of exaggerated tension,
interlocking plains monochrome strips of exuberant tones are locked
against shards of pixillated static.
first of Schmidt's 'Hinterland' exhibitions was held at Mary Newton
Gallery in July 2006, and contained a series of her plastic beaded
works. This current show includes works that have been created over an
extended period, beginning with images that were produced in Germany
where Schmidt grew up and lived until moving to New Zealand 5 years
ago. Also included in this exhibition are her most recent work with
beads, as well as and other works that adapts a similar process of time
consuming and detailed assemblage - the careful fusion of many
miniature parts, be they plastic or shaded, shaped pieces of wood.
has used a variety of different materials, including found objects,
such as old Formica bench tops, on which she draws, not with pencil,
but with permanent marker. Since it is not possible to erase any such
mark once it has been applied, these works have a dense dark feeling to
them. The only way to remove a portion of the picture is to scribble a
black block over it. While in some places black plains and lines recede
backwards into a shallow pictorial space, in other parts of the images
zig-zagging lines make the white negative space appear to explode
forward. Here the lightly hatched static of the bench top becomes the
form, held out for us to view on scaffolding of black marker. By
layering these surfaces with angular fragments, Schmidt transforms
these surfaces that were once wiped down, functional and domestic, into
spooky vistas though a cluttered thicket onto crystallized planes.
included in the show is a three dimension installation rendering of the
treacherous spaces that appear in many of Schmidt's wall hung images.
The floor work "Glacier" recalls the endless spiked expanse in the
painting The Sea of Ice (1824) by the German romantic
painter Casper David Friedrich. By simply stacking shards of wood,
gradated in cold pale colours, Schmidt creates a similar sense of how
natural forms can contain drama and danger.
has stated that she likes recycling materials that surround her in
every day life. She produces her objects and images by carefully
combining different materials until they form patterns. Here she has
created spinning top fractals like objects from combing small wooden
dolphins, themselves slices of kitsch. These twisting repeating forms
spin off the wall, like flipping flower clusters. Though using mass
produced elements these works have the beauty of finely crafted
objects, because they are only made possible through the artist's
fastidious focus and attention to detail it takes to assemble them.
beaded works employ a new use for existing materials. The children's
toy 'Hama' consists of tiny plastic beads that are placed on a spiked
board and then ironed together, usually producing stock images of
smiling flowers or sailboats. Schmidt uses this technique but
dramatically extends the scale and moves away from any kind of
cartoonist representation, ironing together vast planes of plastic.
curved edges of these images reminiscent of portholes, like looking up
through a skylight and seeing a sky a-light with the light of dawn. It
is as though our normal perception, the places we can navigate through,
have been momentarily sliced open; our eyes enter a terrain of
confectionary colour and liquid light.
In Hinterland II
t has moved away for her previous primary palette. Bright blues
and molten reds have given away to more muted colours - though as
glossy as ever with the synthetic gleam of plastic. We see arcs and
slates of salmon, purple and sherbet yellow. These colours are built up
into spaces through which light reverberates in a manner that recalls
Baroque paintings, where the heavens open and rays of light fall to
elicit an overall sense of awe. Schmidt has describes her images as
being of a world that has just started to breath; nature is in its very
early stages, things are just beginning to grow, to multiply. The forms
could both be mammoth, caves, islands, icebergs miles long, whole
landscapes, but they could also be perceived on a microscopic scale, as
a collection of multiplying cells. Light and atmosphere are vital, in
these lands where things are just beginning to unfold.
iciness, juiciness, feeling of earthly sparkle, is intensified in the
light box work, where there is interplay between the opaque and
translucent beads. The light boxes heighten the effect of the beads'
colours in a way that is reminiscent of stained- glass windows, and the
formal floral and ice crystal symmetry of Schmidt's works add to this
creates a hand- crafted world of sensuous precision. Both her
sculptural and two-dimensional work is built up of small components:
line, slices of wood and plastic beads. Through time consuming
processes of gluing, placing, ironing and painting she transforms
Formica, plastic and kitsch cut- outs, into collections of colour and
shape, all crystallized by feeling.
spaces she depicts are ones where light seems to be settling after an
upheaval and where particles stumble through gritty atmosphere. From
simple materials come terrains full of opulent effects, simultaneously
microscopic and grand.
Amy Howden-Chapman 2007