Water Under the Bridge
Retrospective by Dale Copeland
Celebrating 30 years of Assemblage
2 September - 22 October 2023
LUMEN Studios & Gallery
LUMEN is proud to host Dale Copeland’s latest exhibition which coincides with her 80th birthday and celebrates 30 years of assemblage. Dale’s work is about "society's detritus" and reworking "discarded things" into art. Dale has worked in collage, jewellery-making, photography and sculpture, but her favoured medium is assemblage or box-art – careful constructions of treasured objects.
Dale’s assemblage work has been described as “joy in jetsam, philosophy in flotsam”. She finds discarded objects and puts them together not as narratives but as encapsulations of the human condition. The New Zealand art critic James Mack, often acerbic in his judgements, wrote of Dale: “You have to know that this is someone who is not precious, who wants to share, to draw us into a phenomenal realm of discovery beyond the normal aesthetic realms into which we venture.” Dale has described her assemblages as ‘philosophical ramblings in solid form.'
"I love the things I make. Junk is collected and donated, sits around for about 20 years, and finally finds its place; from collage postcards to a large motorised Not-Very-Merry-Go-Round of gargoyles; my mother's false teeth in a fish head... life is full of possibilities. People have been puzzled by the contrast: my optimism and enthusiasm for living seen against my work, which finds its beauty in images of fear, death, and the follies of the living. To me there is no contradiction: given the horrors, the brevity and the pain, an intense joy is the only rational response; dance till they drop you, exult while you can; over all the joys of life, the fierce and inevitable decay. The objects I collect, the treasures I keep for years until they find their place, they may indeed be images of death, but for me their beauty is one of the joys which make life into a glowing jewel in the dust."
Dale Copeland describes herself as a mathematician-turned-artist. The one time head of a college maths and physics department and freelance computer programmer, Copeland, at the age of forty-three opted for a new lifestyle devoted to art and motherhood. She is now a 6th Dan black belt in Taekwon-Do and is still training regularly. Dale has often been referred to as the back bone of the Taranaki arts community, she is currently the driving force behind the artist collective called Virtual TART which shows their work online through the Virtual TART site www.tart.co.nz. In 2012 Dale was appointed a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to the arts. Dale lives at Puniho with painter Paul Hutchinson.