Kate Newby
The edge of earth / You wish. You wish, 2022, Palais de Tokyo, Paris/FR

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.