The Physics Room

World made of steel, made of stone opens to the public on Saturday 6 November, with an artist talk beforehand on Friday 5 November at 4:30pm.

This is an exhibition about making, and how it can locate us, consolidate a sense of self and relationships. Bringing into the gallery a range of materials— aluminium, paraoa rewana, digital media, steel, glass, wool, and language— World made of steel, made of stone recognises making as a form of thinking.

Further, works in this show invite us to think about the body itself as a series of relationships: physical and material, whanau-inherited, gendered and intimate, held in language.

Artists Honey Brown, Josephine Jelicich, Deborah Rundle, Isabel Wadeson-Lee, and Daegan Wells have established modes of making that are hands-on, and rely on learned and applied knowledge of their materials. One result of this is that the works are not developed in isolation, but socially, in correspondence or through quotation, through whanaungatanga and relationships, and with practice. Learning how to work with these hard and soft materials necessarily involves exchange: intergenerational passing on of knowledge (in the case of Brown and Wells’ work), intuitive experiment with the physical properties of aluminium and steel (Wadeson-Lee, Jelicich), editing and recontextualising text and found objects for alternative meaning (Rundle), as part of the labour of conceptually resolving the work.

Deeply pleasurable and felt connections between the body, the repetitive movements of making something to completion, and tools, resonate across these works. Often, poetic language registers these connections most acutely. In her extended epic poem, Memorial, Alice Oswald writes, “Like a good axe in good hands / Finds out the secret of wood and splits it open”, and reading this, perhaps you, too, feel the line of energy: arm-hand-wooden axe handle-axe blade- wood-heart wood as a single gesture. In her work Rundle writes, “rust pepper / tang again / in my mouth” and perhaps you, too, taste it.

There is also pain, humour, and worry, in these works. Through 2020 lockdown, Honey Brown’s mother Katrina Brown and father Dread Brown passed on the recipe for rewana bread to the artist across various digital channels, while Honey struggles to make a loaf that satisfies. In the background, a sample from Notorious B.I.G’s I love the dough plays: “Gotta let it show, I love the dough, hey / I love the dough, more than you know.” An earlier text by Jelicich on her work, To build a wall, registers the anxiety of the maker: “Things I’m worried about—/ That a wall is too intense / That a wall is too boring.” Wells’ work, handcrafted from local primary industry products—wool, timber, aluminium from the Tiwai Point smelter—stands in the space like a soft, strong wall against mass production, and extractive heteropatriarchal capitalism.

The title of this exhibition comes from What a feeling, sung by Irene Cara, featured in the movie Flashdance (1983). The connections between movie and exhibition are slight, but they are sinewy: welding and dancing; the ecstasy of movement; labour and the body; sheer surfaces and skin calluses; desire and identity; paying the rent and wanting more. The movie is nearly 30 years old, Irene Cara is 62 years old now, lead actor Jennifer Beals is close to 60; everyone is older. World made of steel, made of stone is a selective and contemporary reclamation of metallic, tough, tender elements from a problematic classic dance movie, and a power ballad that makes the heart beat faster in your chest.


  • Fri 05 Nov


  • 4:30 pm


  • 301 Montreal Street
  • Christchurch Central City
  • Christchurch 8013