Kate Newby, anything anything, 2024, brick installation made of « Lumière » clay with inclusions of various materials, 50 meters long, Klosterruine, Berlin/DE.

Composed of more than 900 bricks, anything anything by Kate Newby spreads out in two curved lines of 50 meters long each, integrated in the ground of the Berlin monastery. The two trails evoke a now-gone liturgical path inside the disused Klosterruine, this gothic architecture from the 13th century: a structure made out of local bricks including parts of an even older building. This composition considers this location as the subject of unavoidable evolutions. A phenomenological work focusing on changing perceptions, the understanding of this architecture, permitted by a piece that oscillates between appearance and disappearance.

Here, the New Zealand artist reiterates the collaboration with the French workshop Rairies Montrieux. A cooperation which can be explained by the artisanal legacy claimed by Kate Newby in her practice. They produced Lumière bricks, a milky blend of four different clays processed with a wood-fired kiln. This pyramidal model is usually used to design facades. A mass-produced and standardized shape confronted by the artist: she carves, sculpts, reshapes, making each brick unique. Some motifs in the material and other colored inclusions are inspired by her observation of the urban environment and its alterations, specifically the bricks’ decay. Her meticulous sculptural work reveals itself in the details, according to a particular approach that reminds us of the post-minimalist perspectives.

With anything anything, Klosterruine is regarded as a meeting point at the crossroads of history and contemporary production. A project which illustrates a sedimentation, a fusion of materiality and temporalities at once. The installation is similar to miniature topographies, interacting with the environment, activated by nature: the rain infiltrating the material, leaves caught in the grooves, some dust building up… Kate Newby considers the space as an ecosystem, setting a social and cultural framework. She highlights the idea of sharing with the production of limited edition postcard distributed freely to the spectators participating in the revival of those ruins.

Kate Newby, The edge of earth, 2022, bricks and mortar sculptures, variable dimensions, produced at Rairies Montrieux, presented in the forecourt of the Palais de Tokyo, during the collective exhibition Réclamer la terre (“Reclaim the earth”), 2022, Paris/FR. Photo Aurélien Mole.

Réclamer la terre (“Reclaim the earth”) presents itself as a program which explores the relationship between body and soil. This exhibition rethinks and emphasizes the place of individuals in their environment. The idea is to materialize the “soil community” imagined by Rachel Carson, pioneer of the ecology movement and author of Silent Spring (1962).

In this context, Kate Newby presents « The edge of earth » in the forecourt of the Palais de Tokyo, or rather “as part of” the forecourt. The New Zealand artist invests forgotten architectural interstices; some small soil squares excavated in the ground. She presents 5 in situ compositions, made of bricks, included in the architecture without overpowering it. Using such ordinary materials, Kate Newby claims an artisanal legacy, illustrated through this collaboration with the Ateliers Rairies-Montrieux, shaping clay using her body parts.  

Those subtle creations highlight a minimalist intention which blossoms in the details and surface treatments. Her approach to volumes shows internal reflections on the nature of sculpture: here, she digs in the material, in the ground, rather than building it up. Grooves and holes that could have been made by any animal or insect in the dirt. Some sort of poetry of the mundane reveals itself, glorifying alterations visible on the asphalt, subjected to deterioration, the elements and other weather variations.

An artwork which also evokes the slow development of topographic relief, shaping the masses in the ground such as this solidified clay. The edge of earth appears to become as many miniature landscapes, mineral gardens: some organic compositions counterbalancing the geometrical rigidity of the architecture of Palais de Tokyo. Curves and counter-curves, disrupted by the orthogonal bricks, echoing the use of the forecourt by young skaters, blending fully in this social and physical environment.

Kate Newby, You wish. You wish., 2022, glass tiles tinted with jaune d’argent (silver yellow stain), 33 x 33cm each, produced with the Ateliers Loire, added to the Palais de Tokyo’s front door, during the collective exhibition Réclamer la terre (“Reclaim the earth”), 2022, Paris/FR.

At the same time, Kate Newby invests with discretion the entrance of the Palais de Tokyo, following a formal and conceptual unity. You wish. You wish. is a proposal at the crossroads of installation, craftmanship and architecture: a couple of glass tiles, tinted with jaune d’argent (“silver yellow stain”), are spread across the institution’s monumental doors. The artwork actually reveals itself when the Palais’ doors are closed, allowing the light to filtrer through those unique stained-glass windows.

With this project, the artist collaborated with the Ateliers Loire located in Chartres, perpetuators of a remarkable craftmanship. Here as well, we can notice a particular taste for exalted alteration, improved scrap: holes, distortions and voluntary defects which jeopardize the functionality of the stained-glass windows and counterbalance the virtuosity of the glassmakers.

For Réclamer la terre (“Reclaim the earth”), Kate Newby illustrates a relationship with environment related to symbiosis and unity.  A production that is blending in the ecosystem rather than taking over, and whose materiality, clay and glass, refers to a heritage more in tune with nature.

Wild was the night, 2019, verre, vues d’installation
Wild was the night, 2019, verre, vues d’installation
Image et réalisation : Blaise Adilon, Production : Institut d’art contemporain, Villeurbanne/Rhônes-Alpes, vidéo réalisée dans le cadre de l’exposition Otium#4, 2019

In 2019, IAC (Institut d’Art Contemporain) Villeurbanne / Rhône-Alpes brings together artists Leone Conti, Maria Laet and Kate Newby for the exhibition Otium #4. They were selected for their ability, “with simple, measured gestures”, to “initiate other modes of being, in porosity with the environment, to which they give their attention and care. They propose a refocusing, a breath of fresh air, most often in connection with the earth, between germination, collection and repair. Their practice is synonymous with organicity and the infra-thin.

Wild was The Night is a series of discreet works that could almost go unnoticed. These micro-interventions take their place in the atrium, chosen by Kate Newby for its windows and imposing glass roof, as well as outside the building. A golden thread runs through and connects all the spaces, from the exhibition room to the garden, via holes made in her glass works.

Deeply interested in the context in which her work is produced, Kate Newby called on a number of local craftsmen to help her with the creation of these technically challenging plates, in collaboration with master glassmaker Vincent Breed. The cavities were obtained from a plaster cast in which Kate Newby left her fingerprints.

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