Graduate Artist in Residence 2016-17: Cat Auburn

‘Preparing the Ground’ is a multi-screen, moving image artwork that follows the act of preparing the ground conditions for an immediate or ongoing event in three international locations: the Spanish Riding School (Vienna, Austria), where the sand floor of an historic ballroom-come-arena is graded for a five-hundred-year old dressage tradition; Zuihō-in Temple, (Kyoto, Japan), Buddhist Temple and home to a traditional Zen garden where pebbles are carefully raked into patterns and maintained to facilitate meditation; Dunstanburgh Castle (Northumberland, England) and the maintenance of the grounds of the North East’s most iconic ruin. During the development of the project, Auburn also filmed in the collection stores of The Laing Art Gallery in Newcastle upon Tyne, and a modern-era zen garden at St Mungo’s Museum of Religious Life and Art (Glasgow, Scotland). The painterly aesthetics and rhythmic labour of the ground preparation reveals these sites as intersections of tradition and tourism – locations where culture is constructed, performed, re-enforced and exported.

About the artist

Cat Auburn is a New Zealand artist based in the North East of the United Kingdom.  Her exhibition, ‘The Horses Stayed Behind’ recieved the 2016 Award for Best Regional Art Exhibition at the New Zealand Museum Awards.  This exhibition had a three-year national tour and was created during the 2014/2015 Tylee Cottage Artist Residency with the Sarjeant Gallery in Whanganui, (NZ). In 2015, Cat represented New Zealand at the TRIO Biennial in Brazil and graduated from the Master of Fine Arts programme at Northumbria University with distinction in 2016.  Cat was the 2016 Tyneside Cinema Graduate Artist in Residence (UK) in partnership with Northumbria University and during this time collaborated with heritage sites in Vienna, Glasgow and Northumberland to develop a new moving image work called ‘Preparing the Ground’. A subsequent section of ‘Preparing the Ground’ was completed in 2017 in Kyoto, Japan. Cat will collaborate on the musical score for ‘Preparing the Ground’ with internationally acclaimed composer, Gareth Farr (OBE). Cat was the 2010 Olivia Spencer Bower Fellow in Christchurch and has had solo exhibitions at the Tyneside Cinema (UK), the Sarjeant Gallery (NZ), the Dowse Art Museum (NZ), Te Manawa Museum (NZ), Waikato Museum (NZ), Tauranga Art Gallery (NZ).  Cat’s 2018 short film, ‘Shaken’ (commission by Northern Film and Media in collaboration with Channel 4) was broadcast on national UK television in August 2018 and was officially selected for the 2018 Aesthetica Short Film Festival (UK).

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