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Set Dressing

Set Dressing

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Set Dressing
By Gary Cocker, Christine Hellyar, Cao Xun 

Edited by Simon Gennard
Designed by Ella Sutherland

Contributions from Kirsty Baker, Gary Cocker, Simon Gennard, Priscilla Pitts, Zara Stanhope, Samuel Te Kani

Early 2024 RELEASE


In 1985, Christine Hellyar produced her first set of Apron sculptures, cotton garments on which were sewn latex casts of food—a plucked chicken, kūmara, flounder, squid, tripe. The artist conceived of these works as objects to be worn. To this end, she commissioned Gary Cocker, then a student at Elam School of Fine Arts, to capture the aprons in use.

Presenting these images for the first time since their original exhibition, Set Dressing—staged at the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery between March–June 2024—includes Cocker’s photographs of Hellyar’s sculptures in conversation with works by Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland-based photographer Cao Xun.

This companion publication features an expanded selection of Cocker’s images, alongside works by Cao from the first decade of his developing career.

Texts by Priscilla Pitts, Kirsty Baker and Samuel Te Kani explore in depth Hellyar and Cao’s practices, while a conversation between Gary Cocker and exhibition curator Simon Gennard offers insight into Cocker’s artistic life in Tāmaki Makaurau between the mid-1980s and early-1990s. Additionally, the publication includes an introductory essay by Gennard, as well as an afterword by Dr Zara Stanhope.

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