Making art ‘beyond the rectangle’

ALUMINIUM sculptures are among Michael Armstrong’s many artistic fortes.
The material, which he first worked with 27 years ago, is one he relies on for many of his sculptures.
A selection of his works is on display at Timaru’s Saffron Gallery of Art.
The exhibition includes works made using aluminium extrusions, a labour-intensive way to create sculptures without using ‘‘big technologies’’, he said.
‘‘It’s a simple, straightforward way of creating.’’
Mr Armstrong first exhibited 45 years ago and has used aluminium since 1989.
‘‘I’ve always painted on canvas, board or paper. I still do that all the time but I got into interesting movements in the 1970s.’’
‘‘Even when I was at art school in 1974 [I started exploring] ways of getting beyond the rectangle of conventional painting, so I cut holes in paintings,’’ he said.
He bought a sewing machine to use in his work.
‘‘Then in 1986 I started using plywood and still do a lot to make sculptures.’’
His works were ‘‘almost always painted’’ and many were designed to hang on a wall.
They were often big creations.
The Runner, for example, made from aluminium, stands about 2m high.
It started as an abstract concept, Mr Armstrong said.
‘‘Then [I] just kind of kept opening up other possibilities and it slowly transformed itself into the figure, which I thought was a very interesting concept.’’
The Runner, and other works are now on display at Saffron Gallery of Art, where Mr Armstrong has been named artist of the month.

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