Ethereality by Nina Mercep and Sani Gregory-Moore

Last month our studio hosted two local Auckland artists, Sani Gregory-Moore and Nina Mercep. Their collaborative gallery exhibition titled 'Ethereality' displayed an array of mixed media works that captured the naive, childlike subconscious; enchanting, vivid, and sometimes sombre. Influenced by astrology and hermeticism, Mercep illustrates a surreal expression of the human character using the humble ballpoint and sharpie pen. Whilst Gregory-Moore experiments with tactile mediums such as clay, jewellery, and collage, making light of mature material using a playful and unapologetic approach. 

 

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Name: Sani Gregory-Moore

Age: 24 

Artist Practise: Mixed media artist / All round dabbler / colour enthusiast / secretly a fairy  

Tell us about your exhibition “Ethereality” and it’s inception. What inspired you to host this as a collaboration?

To be completely candid and honest I was in no way planning to hold my first exhibition this year. For some reason I'd decided I was going to wait until I'd made this giant immersive womb like installation that was the size of a room, that would take me at least 2 years to design and construct. I guess similar to these ideals we have in losing our virginity, I'd set out this "perfect" scenario in my mind that was attainable but pretty unrealistic.  
And then Nina pitched the idea to me! And like first times are, it was so much more natural, and human, and us than I'd imagined. I would'nt have it any other way. 
We've known each other and each others art for a long time, but there was this beautiful moment when we realized that one of my latest sculptures I had been working on of these many small clay round houses with glass and ferns she had also been drawing the exact same thing for a few months, both without seeing each others work or knowing about the other. Both were about childishness, and natural form and our environment. So that was some kind of divine synced realization, and that we needed to delve into this exhibition together. They just worked well hand in hand. 

 

What does your work aim to say?

To boil it down, it's really about play, human nature and our environment. 
Each piece talks about different things; insomnia and the mental effects of our current lifestyles, cults, pop culture, societal effects on the environment, and the changing of human communication. But even though that's all pretty heavy stuff, all I ever want to put out through my artwork is a throw back to childlike wonder and excitement. My sculptures often get likened to toys and that's not by accident, and hearing people giggling at my books throughout the exhibition is the best thing I could've asked for.  

 

Describe your process of making?
Oh dear. Manic, chaotic obsession. Seriously, I once hit a wall where I was researching how to make realistic eyeballs for 6 months and nothing else. I think I made like 150 dud eyeballs in that time before I eventually made a good prototype. People hated hanging out with me because it was all I'd talk about, and my flatmates hated me because I spilled liquid molten polymer clay all through our oven. Good times. 

 

Where are you finding ideas for your work these days?

I think it's impossible to escape our environment within our making, whatever our environment is at that point in time. 
Right now I'm pretty immersed in my school work, and even if I'm at home working on something different it's really hard to get myself away from the same themes. My current project is in ceramics and I've been exploring "grossness" in its base form. Think lots of wrinkles, bumps, veins, folds, fleshy tones and pus like substances. 

 

Are there any current social or political issues that your work touches on?

Yes! We're living in some dark times, (re: trump) and again it's hard to move away from that. A lot of mental illness, societal destruction of the world and our species/environment. Also the tinder books talk about the changing of communication and connection. 

 

What’s the most indispensable item in your studio?
I have this special pillow for my seat that I don't seem to be able to work without. It's yellow tartan and has "fuck this" stitched in the most beautiful cursive across the front. 
Also, my sketchbook. Not for my studio but for any time I'm anywhere, I can jot down whatever idea I feel is genius at the time (which is more often than not gibberish nonsense), or sketch, or write lists.
I also label everything I own with rainbow tape because I'm territorial about my stationary going missing, and I like to binge watch natural history shows while I work so i guess my laptop as well.
 

Who are your biggest influences?
I'm really, really lucky with my little friendship community. I'll come home to Ruth making some awesome collage, and diva painting, and 3 others jamming in the lounge. From everyone I love around me I get constant inspiration through the incredible projects they are always working on, ears to bounce ideas off of, critics, fresh eyes and constant support and encouragement. I'm also lucky in the sense that my mother was a potter and my father was a painter, so through childhood I got to grow up experimenting with making, and I get to talk to them about anything I ever want or need to. 

 

How do people usually respond to your art and what response to do you hope for?
Like I touched on earlier, all I ever really hope for is some kind of child like joy and wonder. A reaction or physical interaction in whatever seems natural for them, I love seeing people get up close, hold themselves back from touching it, or laughing. While people usually find my work joyful and playful, some people find it a little nightmarish and harrowing, but I see that as a childlike reaction also. 
Any kind of conversation about the heavier meanings is just a major bonus on top. 

 

What piece of art do you wish you owned? 

The original Falcor (from the Never ending story), designed by Guiseppe Tortura and Arthur Collin.  

 

What under-rated artist or  gallery or work do you think people should know about? 
First of all, let's talk about Rainbow paddle pops. What happened? At what point did we decide we were way too grown and cool for our 5 year old selfs miracle treat? 5 year olds know what the hell is up. We are so used to seeing everything every day we just blank out so much of the world because we're used to it in our morning commute to work; how tall the church steeple is, pigeons finding really creative places to roost, crunchy puddles in a frost, and friggen. rainbow. paddle pops. 
Delicious. It's like a mixture of bubblegum and fake banana and strawberry flavoring that is somehow genius. (Streets if you're reading this I will totally take any kind of compensation for this free advertising)
Also that weird rocket elevator inside the Auckland city Metro. I'm in love with it. It used to be so grand and then they took off the bottom half of the shiny red rocket part (I assume for OSH reasons) and now it just sits there in some kind of performance art, half looking like a rocket, half looking like an abstract upside down ice cream, mostly ignored and well past it's days of glory. 
Also, doilies and anything David farrier has ever written but I'm not sure he actually counts as underrated. 
 

What is a skill you wished you possessed ?
I'm very uncoordinated. I thought I could skateboard for a while but then I skinned the left side of my body and broke my arm, so I guess I wish I could do that. 
I also wish I could keep a clean car and bedroom but it's never managed to happen. 
I also wish I could be fluent in NZ sign language, sing, play a musical instrument, knit, cultivate moss, and keep bees. All of these are definitely learnable skills but I'm not sure I can be less obsessive about making to give myself the time to learn. 

 

What scares you most? 

That our generation doesn't make the headway that we need to, to save the planet. 

 

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
When getting caught up in anxious loops my mum always said something along the lines of "If you can change it, change it and don't waste worry on it. If you can't change it, there's nothing you can do about it so why waste worry on it." I think that speaks a lot to the extra energy we keep putting into crap that doesn't matter. 
When talking to my dad about a recurring dream while I was at a major fork in my life, feeling jaded and a bit lost, he said something along the lines of "If you're not at least a bit scared of something then it probably isn't going to be transformative for you, consider what the fear is of and if it isn't genuinely threatening, jump right into it."

 

What’s up next for you? 
God knows. Maybe I'll make the big womb thing. I've got a half finished book and some ceramics on the go at the moment, and I'm gathering some new content for zines and have a few commissions coming through. 
My next major step is completely rehauling my artist branding and getting my Etsy up and running, which will be in the next month or so. 

 

Follow Sani on social media for the latest news and releases! 

> BigCartel

> Instagram


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Name: Nina Mercep

Age: 25

Artist Practice: Double Negative/Plutonic Readings

Tell us about your exhibition “Ethereality” and it’s inception. What inspired you to host this as a collaboration?

I had been putting forth the intention of collaboration for a long while before I struck alchemical gold with Sani. She actually has a list with magical words and we went through them to see which resonated the most. We noticed that there already were similar fairy tale vibes sprinkled in both our works, for example, the dome shaped houses.

What does your work aim to say?

"This how my subconscious vents."

Describe your process of making?

I listen to a jam or a really fascinating yarn on youtube and draw while im listening and engaged, with no thoughts really in my head, just my instinct guiding me but mostly trust in the process of being empty yet present when youre engaged in an activity. And then just a lot of refining and embracing of any mistakes, integrating it all together into an image. Some of my work remains fragmented though.

Where are you finding ideas for your work these days?

I have no idea. I enjoy the unpredictability being a part of it. For sure it comes from a personal, emotional place - as I mentioned, my subconscious needs to vent. Perhaps its how I chew out the world after absorbing it

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Are there any current social or political issues that your work touches on?

The efficacy of psychedelics when used respectfully and appropriately; the rennaisance of astrology and hermetic principles; my social issue is about shadow integration. Jung popularized the concept. Its about accepting your darker aspects and not denying them/being run by them.

What’s the most indispensable item in your studio?

Sharpies, bic pens, a pad, youtube, herb, tea, my friendships

Who are your biggest influences?

My grandmother, terence mckenna, graham hancock, amber khan, caitlin smith, kip anderson, edward snowden, jane goodall, david merritt...

How do people usually respond to your art and what response to do you hope for?

I think I add a loooot of definition to everything I do, ive had all kinds of responses which is great. A lot of people told me they saw penises in my work at the exhibition. I hope for impact, plain and simple, and always, better conversation

What piece of art do you wish you owned?

Original miyazaki work woukd be nice... Or some Pablo Amaringo...

What under-rated artist or gallery or work do you think people should know about? 

Two friends of mine James Devonshire and Ellis Bell. I swear every time I've seen them they've been making sculptures, or painting, putting together all sorts of miscellaneous objects and making contraptions. They have to be one of the hardest working artistic duos who no one has ever seen or met. I have so many talented friends though.

What is a skill you wished you possessed ?

I'm working on upping my skills when it comes to the spotlight, audiences, showing and expressing myself to people without cringing or retracting. I wish I had a photographic memory and could remember all my facts flawlessly!

What scares you most?

Staying chained to curses of the past and sabotaging future potentialities with a closed off attitude...

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

Embrace your mistakes. The world is made of language. You don't have to do anything. Your vibration attracts what you experience. Fall into the abyss to land on a feather bed.

What’s up next for you?

I'm considering a food truck business. A youtube channel to clarify astrology. Much larger scale artwork, getting more imbedded in these fantasy worlds im bringing down to paper. Zines... Time will tell!!!

 

Follow Nina on social media for the latest news and releases! 

> Facebook

> Instagram

 

Stefan OzichComment