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Absolution and its Gallery - Putting the Mystery Back into Where it Came From

Absolution in the Arts Centre of Christchurch is a tattoo and body-piercing studio, and a gallery with attitude.  Since 2016 it has hosted an exhibition programme, initially in its former location at The Tannery and now in the city centre. 

Currently over-seeing its exhibition programme is Absolution staff member Rochelle Montagne.  She backgrounds the decision to return to the central city and to the Arts Centre: ‘Moving back in to town has been a fantastic choice for us. Absolution was on Manchester Street before the earthquakes and coming back was definitely a homecoming of sorts.  Everything fell into place and we are happy to call the Arts Centre home now.  We started running the gallery space in 2016, to provide an outlet for emerging artists who didn’t have the necessarily experience with established galleries.  We also felt it was a good opportunity to have a revolving gallery of different art that suited the aesthetic and kept things fresh and interesting.’

‘Tamryn Howard who is a friend of the studios and ex-staff member is the woman behind the idea to implement the gallery.  We wanted an exhibition space that put emphasis on the fact that art and tattooing can absolutely coincide. We have been able to draw a lot of the artists from our existing client base and have exhibited a group show of our own work, as well as had our own individual shows, but we have been lucky to connect with people we otherwise might not have within the arts scene in Christchurch.’

In September, Absolution exhibits works on paper by Christiane Shortal, a graduate from Ara School of Art and Design. Her first solo exhibition, Mitosis (alluding to the division of cells and the regeneration of life) positions and contemplates aspects of religion and the meaning of life. Shortal says that she has always focused on drawing, being a fan of the internationally renowned comic book and graphic artist James Jean.  ‘He does beautiful line work.’ And artist Jess Johnson is also of importance.  ‘I fell in love with her work and the geometrical compositions she creates.  I feel like I merged my love of line and the “world building” that she creates in her work.’

‘Mitosis is quite personal. I want people to be able to step into a different space, be immersed in a different world, a different way of seeing.  I went into this series thinking a lot about what it is to communicate with a higher being, how strange and ineffable that notion is.  Religion is almost like a language and I was looking at what happens when you totally disconnect from that language, it becomes so abstract and overwhelming. In this series I have been treating each landscape as if it were a portrait, hence why there are no figures. Presenting the landscapes as sentient and having their own system of logic and communication.’

I use bathrooms in these works as a reference to the everyday mundane and domesticity of life, but present and interrupt these familiar forms and spaces as alien. Bathrooms are cold isolated spaces but imply comfort and catharsis as well.  I want viewers to feel as if they are encountering these familiar forms for the first time, showing the absurdity of the mundane and trying to put the mystery back into where it came from.’


  1. Christiane Shortal, Untitled, 2019, pen and ink on paper, from her exhibition, Mitosis
  2. Christiane Shortal, Untitled II, 2019, pen and ink on paper, from her exhibition Mitosis

Absolution in the Arts Centre and Christaine Shortal's Exhibition, Mitosis

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