St Paul st Gallery AUT
Speaking Surfaces at St Paul St Gallery, 2020

Speaking Surfaces is shaped by the questions: How do surfaces speak? How are stories and experiences inscribed in the surfaces that surround us? How might surfaces speak with, to and through people? A collaboration between St Paul St Gallery and AUT Spatial Design students and staff, Speaking Surfaces is a project developed to reimagine the gallery’s capacities as a platform for encounters and experiences. The project has multiple and layered phases, and it runs throughout 2020 with artworks and exhibitions, performances, screenings, gatherings, conversations, and teaching. These activities are not only experiences of physical space, but of time, and of the many different energies that inform all our states of being, doing and thinking.

As a project Speaking Surfaces involves multiple points of engagement. Within the physical and conceptual space anchored by the spatial design, programme activities will come and go over time and space - Gallery Two will be part of Speaking Surfaces later in the year. The project opens on 28 February with works by Jen Bowmast, Ruth Castle, Nikau Hindin and Ben Thomason, Mabel Juli, Karrabing Film Collective, Emily Parr and Arielle Walker, and Sapati Mossiah Avei Fina’i with Speaking Surfaces project team.

In March, during the Auckland Arts Festival over the weekend of the 21st and 22nd Atamira Dance Company artistic director Jack Gray and special guests will activate the space with a Creative Wānanga. The Wānanga invites the public to discuss, share and participate in a tactile, multi-sensory series of events situated both in the gallery and outside. For more information about Creative Wānanga with Jack Gray in the Auckland Arts Festival, click here.

Also in March, as part of AUT’s 20th anniversary as a university, Speaking Surfaces will host ‘storying of place’ discussions and workshops towards the development of an outdoor sculpture commissioned by AUT to mark the anniversary. The project is a collaboration between Taarati Taiaroa and Dion Hitchens and involves students from within the Faculty of Design and Creative Technologies and members of the wider AUT community. 

Speaking Surfaces cannot be defined as an exhibition. It is a project generated through a collaborative and experimental design process, involving Gallery staff and the cohort of 60+ students and staff who participated in the Spatial Design Year 3 Studio, whose collective input fed into imagining varying propositions of speaking surfaces. We acknowledge the particular influence of design propositions from: Sapati Mossiah Avei Fina’i, Silvia Kostandini, Yana Nafysa Dombrowsky-M’Baye, Ellie Blower, Caitlin Hogan, Sharon Semi Tugia, Julia Mapusua, Denise Jillian Saso, and Juvanka Rebello. Subsequently, the core Speaking Surfaces project team has grown into: Emily O’Hara, Charlotte Huddleston, Sapati Mossiah Avei Fina’i, Silvia Kostandini, Nooroa Tapuni, Kahurangiariki Smith, Balamohan Shingade, Eddie Clemens, Monique Redmond, Harriet Stockman, Harold Barton, Glenn Maxwell, Matthew Davis, Angus Roberts.