Civilia

Alex Kinnaird / Craig McClure / Helen Dowling / Joseph Scott / Nick Megchelse

  • 2 May - 15 May, 2013

Helen Dowling, Nick Megchelse, Craig McClure, Alex Kinnaird and Joseph Scott are all Hamilton based and are current students at Wintec’s School of Media Arts. Civilia is curated by Kim Paton and is the first of what will be an annual curated show in the Ramp programme focusing on the work of emerging artists.

Civilia presents work by current students:  Joseph Scott, Helen Dowling, Craig McClure & Nick Megchelse

Ivor de Wolfe begins his 1971 book Civilia: the end of sub urban man; a challenge to Semidetsia like this:

‘Planning is for freedom. The million dollar question, what is freedom for, needn’t detain us here since of the two kinds of freedom, freedom-for and freedom-from, the planner is concerned for practical purposes with the second, designed as it is to release the citizen from the restrictions, frustrations, obstructions, injunctions, objections, restraints, vetoes, bans, barriers, embargoes, and bloodymindedness which prevent him bothering with the first.’

Wolfe (a pseudonym) argues throughout Civilia that the profession of town planning has fallen victim to over-specialized planners whose policies made behind locked doors, provide the ‘lay man’ with so many bureaucratic hurdles that we lose all sense of our connection to the environments we live, work and play in. Bad planning produces bad environments and in turn bad habits (pollution, destruction, vandalism etc.). Civilia proposes the development of a low-rise high-density city built on an area of spoil-tips and quarries in landlocked Warwickshire in England. Ignoring all the normal considerations of town planning Civilia describes a future city that releases its citizens from an onslaught of hazards through its design and layout: ‘No wasted space. No dead areas. No sprawl. No dereliction. No suburbs. No class barriers. No East End. No unemployment. No lack of fun. No lonely housewives...’ And on it goes.

For all its madness (and 40 years down the track) Civilia is clever and provocative, wildly exciting and also startlingly accurate. In honour of its namesake Civilia at Ramp charts five artists whose work converge with the themes in Wofle’s book. Suburban landscapes, strip malls, violence and the conditions of the 9-5 work ethic all feature. Civilia presents new work – drawing, painting and illustration – by Helen Dowling, Nick Megchelse, Craig McClure, Alex Kinnaird and Joseph Scott. The artists share in Wofle’s wry assessment of the human condition – anxiety, banality and neurosis brought on from our obsessions with consumerism, our lack of community and an economic system driven by supply and demand that externalizes the impact our lifestyles have on the environment.

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