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Shopping lists inspire art

Carterton-based artist Rhondda Grieg with a piece of art from her Shopping Lists series. PHOTO/LYNDA FERINGA

 

EMILY NORMAN

Most people walk past discarded shopping lists at the supermarket – but not Rhondda Grieg.

She prefers to pick them up, have a read through them, and use them as inspiration for her latest series of artworks, Shopping Lists.

The Carterton-based artist is known for her eccentric use of colour and form to create art in a range of media from pottery to canvas painting.

Her Shopping List series, still underway, is a little more curious than her previous works, and is based upon the fleeting and commonly written “social document”, the shopping list.

“I came to see shopping lists as quite important social documents,” she said.

“Especially as handwriting is fast disappearing.

Grieg’s interest in shopping lists as a social document birthed after she began studying Jewish history dating back to the Middle Ages.

“There is written record of the whole of Jewish culture going back to the Middle Ages, and included in that are shopping lists.”

She said it made her realise how precious the anonymous and under-valued activity of “people in our society writing shopping lists” was – especially as “writing with the hand is something that is diminishing daily”.

“Since I’ve launched into this series of work, I’ve actually picked up scraps of paper off supermarket floors which are thrown-away shopping lists.

“I study them.”

She currently uses her own handwriting and calligraphy in her artworks, but has “pondered the ethics of copying the handwriting and misinformed spelling on these thrown-away shopping lists I have found on supermarket floors”.

One of her works features a splash of colour with the words, parsley, plants, and eggs floated in the foreground.

Embedded in the artwork are much smaller words relating to shopping lists, each one written using calligraphic techniques and gestures.

The longer the artwork is studied, the more words seem to appear to the viewer.

She said what ended up on a shopping list and the way it was written was all very curious, “because often it is spontaneous and last-minute needs that you are dashing off to the supermarket for”.

“The back of an envelope, or any piece of scrap paper – it becomes a shopping list.”

Grieg, who lives her life in “saturated colour”, said her artistic vision with Shopping Lists was to create “new patterns of meaning” in everyday objects.

“The closest I can get to describing it really is to use the kaleidoscope.

“You have to look through a little aperture, turn it around, and all these mirrors slip and slide over each other, creating new patterns of meaning.

“I think that’s what I am trying to do in my paintings.”

Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland is Wairarapa’s Local Democracy Reporter, a Public Interest Journalism role funded through NZ On Air. Emily has worked at the Wairarapa Times-Age for seven years and has a keen interest in council decision-making and transparency.

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