On Blushing

Stephanie Arrowsmith, Ice in Twilight, 2022, oil on linen.

Stephanie Arrowsmith, Ice in Twilight, 2022, oil on linen.

10 Jun – 21 Jul 2022

Alice Langbrown, Dayle Palfreyman, Steph Arrowsmith, Willa Smart

Eros exists because certain boundaries do. In the interval between reach and grasp, between glance and counter-glance, between ‘I love you’ and ‘I love you too,’ the absent presence of desire comes alive. But the boundaries of time and glance and language are only aftershocks of the main, inevitable boundary that creates eros: the boundary of flesh and self between you and me. And it is only, suddenly, in the moment when I would dissolve that boundary, that I realise I never can. 


On Blushing is a group show invoking this particular absent presence that eros (proverbial desire) leaves us with—an interplay of absence and presence constantly lapsing in and out of focus as desire flickers within us. Developed in response to Anne Carson’s Eros the Bittersweet (1986), a sense of longing and yearning permeates these works. Pieces are missing here—words without a page, teeth without a mouth. Only one half of a whole. But the works here are not trying to complete themselves, they are staying suspended perfectly in this twilit margin, forever in a state of unrequited desire. 

Researching this show, I’ve become enamoured with endlessly repeated images of love, now emptied of real feeling. We re-enact movements and looks and words of love, and these symbols, mutated over centuries, echo our movements back to us in turn. Swirling lights in the dark, clouds in soft focus technicolour with sweeping orchestral swells. The crystalline glamour of love imagined may briefly fill the absence and quell the longing, the weeping and gnashing of teeth. These works reveal the twist in the stomach, the tear leaking through the vision sick with beauty. A moment of life in the likeness, the movement and melting of statues.         


Curated by Tom Denize

About the artists

Tāmaki Makaurau based maker Alice Langbrown is a recent graduate of Elam School of Fine Arts. Her favoured discipline lies at the intersection of sculpture and jewellery making. She seeks to unpack the symbiotic relationship that her works share with the body. Science fiction is a central trope of her practice, and she applies this to traditional jewellery-making techniques to create biomorphic objects which live in an imagined world or realm of cyborgism.


Dayle Palfreyman is a Te Whanganui a Tara, Aotearoa early-career artist, of Pakeha (English and Irish) descent. Palfreyman graduated from Massey University in 2020 with a BFA (honours). 

Palfreyman predominantly works in sculpture and installation mainly with natural and industrial materials. Her work raises questions about bodily autonomy, and psychological encounters within-subject, object and abject relationships. Palfreyman considers the affect of our relationship to technology and what that reveals about ourselves; beginning with ubiquitous objects familiar to her childhood or dreams. 

Recent shows include TiliaCity gallery Wellington (2022),  Intra-action, Aotearoa art fair + TENT,  Drive-thru, (2021) and To Dissipate - Playstation - Wellington -2020.


Steph Arrowsmith makes oil paintings, using light and material to create imagery with a holographic presence. Lately her paintings have been lonely symbols of nature’s innocence. Too- pure- for- this world forms perform in murky enclosures that appear as heavenly worlds. 

Steph graduated from Massey University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 2021. She took part in Exposure Graduate Exhibition (2021) and the group shows Pitstop (2021) at Drive Thru Gallery, and Cloudspotting (2022) at Playstation.  


Willa Smart is an artist and writer currently pursuing a PhD in California on food, fantasy, and transfemininity. Her erotic novel, Switch Wish, was published in 2021 by Meekling Press.

Twitter: @wllasmart
Website: http://willasmart.com/