From a toy tortoise to a foot spa

Status Quo James R Ford

120 Courtenay Place                         

8.30am-5.30pm, 11th February - 3rd March 2013

Property partner: Frank Wong on behalf of Wong Wung Partnership


A pull-along toy on a treadmill, a cricket bat on a record player, and a pair of dice in a foot spa: absurd but poignant, three new kinetic artworks by leading Wellington emerging artist James R Ford play out in a small window in Wellington's entertainment district. It's the first public art project to be brokered in a vacant commercial space by Urban Dream Brokerage, a new Wellington organisation dedicated to the creative use of vacant commercial space with support from the Wellington City Council.

The space is a small hole in the wall on Courtenay Place, just down from the corner with Taranaki Street and smack in the middle of the bar and restaurant district. All three works, pair an item of play with a motorised household object as metaphors for our everyday existence and work-life balance and appear one per week over three weeks 11 February to 3 March, operating like good little workers between 8.30am and 5.30pm. We expect bemusement at first from regular passerbys and then hopefully some growing recognition that the work might have something to say about their daily grind.   

Status Quo features, in order, a slinky on a treadmill (Road to Nowhere, 2013), a painted cricket bat on a record player (Quandary Phase, 2013) and a pair of dice in a foot spa (Total Paradise, 2013).

James R Ford is a Wellington based artist whose varied practice includes drawing, assemblage, installation and film. Recent work has been of an existential nature, contemplating the workings of the universe and how we spend time, using everyday materials and absurd scenarios.

"Performance of one kind or another is central to much of Ford’s work," Lily Hcking of City galleyr has recently written, "whether the performing body is the artist’s own, that of a stand-in, or the audience themselves. In 2010 he staged an event where members of the public were invited to aid him in destroying his cursed Nissan Primera; another project bore the instructive title 33 things to do before you’re 10 (07-09) ; and an earlier work saw the invention of a new home based sport (’ A video work of his recently appeared  at City Gallery Wellington. 

Ford (b. 1980, UK) studied at Goldsmiths College in London and has exhibited widely throughout New Zealand and overseas and his work has featured in a variety of national and international publications. Recent solo exhibitions include Snake Pis, Blue Oyster Gallery, Dunedin (2012); Tongue-Tied and Tired, {Suite} Gallery, Wellington (2012); Air of the Irrational, Christian Ferreira at the Wapping Project, London (2011); and Zero Expectations, Peloton Gallery, Sydney, Australia (2011). Ford recently curated a national touring exhibition of contemporary male artists based in NZ, entitled Never Mind the Pollocks, featuring creatives who employ intellect, keen observation and a lightness of touch in their work.