Denys Watkins

Fringe Benefits

Fringe Benefits by Denys Watkins

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'At once I entered a world both familiar and strange' - the signature phrase of undersea explorer Jacques Cousteau rings true in relation to much of Denys Watkins's work. A prolific artist in watercolour, printmaking, sculpture, installation and painting, he makes riddling images and playful takes on reality. As Anne Kirker has noted: 'We are reminded of the Californian artist William T. Wiley, who like Watkins won't let us forget how silly and how deep a place the world is'. Fringe benefits add to the value of the core and New Zealanders, dwellers on the fringes of the planet, have long extolled the benefits of unlimited suburbia on the fringes of their towns and cities - self-contained houses with 'sections' for all. In this early work, using the traditionally pastoral medium of watercolour, Watkins suggests anything but a rosy glow of happiness and contentment. Tightly constructed little houses with identical doors and windows (holland or venetian blinds) are set in neat rows like accommodation for forestry workers, their only inhabitants the animals of New Zealand farming life - sheep, cows and, like wicked impostors, those rabbits which lay waste to grazing land. The flagpole is empty - there seems little to celebrate. Fringe Benefits has brought many a rueful smile to the face of Gallery visitors, an expression of unease in the 'quarter-acre, pavlova paradise'. (from The Guide, 2001)

Title
Fringe Benefits
Artist/creator
Production date
1978
Medium
ink and watercolour
Dimensions
470 x 790 mm
Credit line
Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, gift of the Friends of the Auckland Art Gallery, 1979
Accession no
1979/4
Copyright
Copying restrictions apply
Department
New Zealand Art
Display status
Not on display

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