Past Exhibition

Whorl. Stacy Cooper & Ava Trevella

Hātarei 2 Māehe -
Hātarei 13 Āperira

Saturday 2 March -
Saturday 13 April


Research image courtesy of Ava Trevella

Research image courtesy of Ava Trevella

Whorl as a term often refers to the convolutions of a spiral shell, though it can be used to describe any kind of form containing a spiral, coil or curl, one suggesting an ever-deepening movement. In Whorl, Stacy Cooper and Ava Trevella draw from their own experiences and imaginings of habitation, and from what sensations are felt or embodied when moving through different kinds of dwellings. Each shares an interest in how these sensations unfold reciprocally, becoming interrelated between interior and exterior worlds.

The poet and essayist Francis Ponge wrote a series of prose-poems on invertebrates; the oyster, mollusk, snail, shellfish and butterfly, each one ‘siding’ with a shell or cocoon. Ponge notes: “Somehow I wish that man sculpted kennels, or shells, of one sort or another, things on his own scale, that he created objects differing greatly from his own mollusk shape but proportioned to it."1 He compared the (seemingly) effortless harmony that arises between these invertebrates and their shell/cocoon coverings to people’s own surrounding structures which, to him, were out of step with their personal scales, limits and imaginings.

The kinds of human-made surrounding structures Ponge describes include typical domestic rooms and houses. For Cooper, the repeated experience of moving from house to house throughout his childhood has become bound up in both memories and objects. These are bodily sensations felt when encountering certain material reminders; forming threads between memories held and shaped in the mind, and by the sensory experience of everyday things and built environments.

Trevella grounds her paintings in atmospheric and environmental elements she inhabits day to day. From there, imagined and found narratives emerge - animal figures that are blended and multiple, plantlife that seems other worldly. One painting to the next can contain recurring imagery and the brush and mark-making movements of past works. Through these processes, the cohabiting forms of creatures that emerge do so as a shelter, dwelling or refuge is shaped about them.

Memory is often characterised as a dwelling place, somewhere to abide or linger for a time where the past and present merge. Something akin to a shell, cocoon, husk or nest constructed about a person or persons. A place made through collecting material and immaterial things.


1 Francis Ponge, Selected Poems (Winston-Salem, NC: Wake Forest University Press, 2003), 65.

Stacy Cooper

Stacy Cooper is an Ōtepoti based artist who completed a BVA at Dunedin School of Art in 2023. Marked by touch and carried from place to place, his sculptures and installations explore the relationships that exist between bodies and objects that define the spaces we occupy.

Ava Trevella

Ava Trevella is an artist currently based in Ōtepoti. Her painting practice is studio-led and explores interconnected themes of self, matter and place through intimate engagement. She studied at Elam School of Fine Arts, completing a BFA in 2022, and her previous exhibitions include Eagle, Window Gallery (2023) and Nova, Sumer (2023).