THE NEWFOUNDLAND QUARTERLY :: ONLINE EXCLUSIVES
Online Exclusive for #430 (a)
Newtopia (currently featured at the Rooms Provincial Art Gallery) is a group exhibition with work from a quartet of visual artists (for a review of the exhibition, please see Vol. 101. No. 3). Peter Wilkins, filmmaker and photographer, spoke with the N.Q. about his work in Newtopia, which included photomontage, perpetual films, and digitally animated wall-mounted screens. All the imagery was drawn from the Gander International Airport.
NQ: Where did the idea come from to explore Gander airport?
Wilkins: I'd always heard Gander airport was amazing, a really special place, so I was intrigued by that. Then I was on a flight coming back from England, reading Wallpaper magazine, and it had a big feature on Gander Airport. I started researching, and came across another big feature in the New York Times. It confirmed my suspicions.
NQ: How does it fit the idea of Newtopia?
Wilkins: When [curator] Bruce [Johnson] mentioned the idea - Newtopia - to me, it was like bells going off - Gander! Gander! Gander! When it was built in the late 1950s, all the glitteri, literally everybody who was anyone, the jet set, was stopping over in Gander. It was very glamourous. The Canadian government wanted to put the country in its best light and they hired the top designers and the top sculptors and the top architects to make it cutting edge and modern.
NQ: Why did you choose the media you used?
Wilkins: I didn't want to just document. Lots of photographers had just documented. I thought very hard about how to bring in a personal twist. I wanted to explore patterns and design. The techniques led to patterns. The prints are parts of chairs and sofas, the close-ups make patterns, the patterns emerged. I'm fascinated by the movement of things, so I took the still prints and made an animated version. The inherent movement expands and contracts and brings the furniture to life.
NQ: And the video?
Wilkins: I always wanted to do a perpetual video. And going down to the [departure] gate, it seems to take forever, and because of the symmetry, it looks like you're making progress but you're still not getting there, and after a while it's like, are you coming or going?
NQ: Did you manipulate the colours at all?
Wilkins: No. With the digital process you can make everything perfect, but I wanted to keep it natural.
NQ: The architectural curves and the tortoiseshell colours remind me of Art Deco.
Wilkins: I also find them Islamic. They're mosaics.
NQ: Because you can manipulate them as much as you please, how do you know when they are finished?
Wilkins: I experiment. I sit with them for weeks. I like to think it's like a painting, you know when you're finished when there's nothing more you should do, and nothing you should delete.
NQ: What is your next project?
Wilkins: Gros Morne. My next twelve works will be of the scale and grandeur and beauty of Gros Morne. They will be prints, no video. I don't have a show lined up but I think I'll finish them before Christmas.
To view these and other images, please go to http://www.wilkins.ws/gm1.html
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