Gabby O’Connor is an artist-researcher who has successfully used art to communicate the relationship between our marine environments and the risks of environmental and climate changes. From 2017 to 2021, O'Connor researched the risks around climate change for her PhD at the University of Auckland, the outcome involving her skills as an installation artist, commanding and controlling large, gallery spaces.
Describes as an ‘artist-researcher’ Gabby O’Connor’s commitment has been to utilise her arts practice to make tangible the relationships between our marine environments and the possibilities and probabilities of environmental and climate change, through large-scale public art projects that have been installed in public gallery spaces throughout Aotearoa.
Her current work has been with scientists and local communities, making the connections between art, science and climate change for a further significant contemporary work that has now opened at the Ashburton Art Gallery. O’Connor’s All the Colours, All the Light is an installation drawing from her experience in the Antarctic, where ‘moisture particles in the air can freeze and act as tiny prisms, reflecting a rainbow of light that creates twinkling clouds known as diamond dust’.
Indeed, the scale and ambitions of All the Colours, All the Light was anticipated by Connor’s 2021 project, The Unseen, created from 12 kilometres of rope and cable ties and evolving through nationwide community programmes that included 60 workshops and 1600 participants. Described as a giant community artwork made from rope, she commented: ‘At its heart, The Unseen is an art-sci collaboration that provides opportunities for people to participate directly in making art and accessing scientists and scientific research. It is not one or another, but all things at once.’
In the spaces of the Ashburton Art Gallery, O’Connor has installed theatre lighting gels, transforming the gallery into an immersive kaleidoscope. Bathing in colour, All the Colours, All the Light relies on an audience’s visual perception of light waves to exist.
DETAILS: Gabby O’Connor, All the Colours, All the Light, Ashburton Art Gallery, 327 West Street
3 April – 26 May
IMAGE: Gabby O’Connor, All the Colours, All the Light, 2017-2023. The Dowse Art Museum, 2021. Photograph Mark Tantrum.