Like her better known male contemporary Bruce Barber, Maree Horner’s first year as a student at Elam School of Fine Arts was 1969 – the first year that Jim Allen returned to Auckland after his sabbatical and sought to introduce the teaching of a very new kind of art and practice. Like Barber, Horner was known as something of a star of this early period, however her work stayed much more fundamentally in the realm of sculptural practice, her MA graduation work was defined a female perspective on current sculptural concerns in particular the domestic, but also the ready made.
Horner likens her early sculptural practice, especially her environmental installations, as ‘explorative drawing’. In 1970–71 her work with found materials – creating structures
Acq Prop 2020_4 Maree Horner 4
outdoors with paper rolls, inner-tubes and sand structures – helped her define an ‘active’ sculptural space. Works like Diving Board, 1972 and Chair, 1973 from her MA exhibition, are characteristic of a sculptural practice with an implied but absent body. Marking out the scale of the human body, the board greets you at chest/neck height, while the empty glass tank measures closer to hip height. The implied eroticism of these two objects and the negative space between them – one just missing the other – resonated with viewers of the day.
Chair, 1973, made for Horner’s graduation year, was covered in a steel mesh and connected to a 6-volt battery.
Despite its publication in the well known book on the new sculpture practice by this generation New Art covering most of the figures of this time, the illustration of this work was in black and white. Not visible in the documentation was the bright pink of the foam which sat underneath the floor. At point of publication Horner wrote: “I was thinking about suburban neurosis and the person who sits in his comfortable chair and doesn’t think about anything. Ironically this could be turned on myself”
The photograph in the book captured a spontaneous performative action, taking a copy of the recent Time magazine with its cover tagline ‘week of shocks’, Horner sat herself peacefully on the chair with her feet off the floor.
- Production date
- domestic lounge chair, insulation foam, steel reinforcing wire, battery, wires
- 5577 mm
- Credit line
- Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, purchased 2020
- Accession no
- Copying restrictions apply
- New Zealand Art
- Display status
- Not on display
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