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Wordplay on show at Saatchi & Saatchi gallery

Mary Louise Browne at Saatchi & SaatchiYou've probably seen her award-winning series of nine stone seats, entitled Byword, running the length of Auckland’s Lorne Street and herBody to Soul staircase in Wellington’s Botanical Garden.

Now works from Mary-Louise Browne's 12-year art career are on show at the Saatchi & Saatchi Gallery; the exhibition, Don’t be Afraid, is on now until July 6.
 
The collection includes a variety of works using timeless phrases from cinema in leather, paint and architectural paper, with a brand new neon work forming the centrepiece.

Browne’s career could be described as an investigation of words. She works in a variety of media including painted canvas, vintage paper, leather, wool rugs and neon use metaphor, association and clever order to examine the visual power of language.
 
“I have always had a fascination with language,” says Browne. “I love its packed, primed and unstable energy which is what has led me to focus on expressing language and text in a visual context.”
 

The Saatchi & Saatchi gallery has been up and running for a few months now and has hosted artists like and Dick and Otis Frizzell with Mike Weston, and Dutch visitor Niels Shoe Meulman.

Saatchi & Saatchi executive creative director Antonio Navas says Browne's talent for playing on words and language is masterful.

Antonio Navas“Mary-Louise’s insightful explorations of language cannot help but stir the imagination,” he says. 
 

Navas says Saatchi as an agency is all about highlighting interesting talent and that extends to the gallery, giving creatives a place to share their views through their work.

"In advertising we're always trying to do things that haven't been done before. We're excited to have Saatchi be part of the art world," he says.

"The work takes on a totally different life when you put it up on nicely painted walls with proper lighting and you actually have people standing up close. That's when the art really starts to come alive."

Growing up, he spent a lot of time in museums and around family friends who were artists themselves. Upon moving to New York as an adult, he also set up small galleries there.

Navas, whose own artistic medium of choice is photography, says in the future he hopes the gallery will move into more experimental work in the future.

"What I'd like to continue doing ...  is be more conceptual about the kind of art we do, collaborate with artists to create themes at Saatchi ... social issues and things like that."

Navas is also an unabashed fan of Kiwi talent.

"I'm getting a crash course on New Zealand art," he says. "What's happening in art around the world is not as exciting anymore as it is here. We're so far away. You have your own style. There are certain galleries bringing  a little of that international flavour to it but you guys have a lot of interesting things already here. The influences that you have from the islands and all that, that's what I love .... it's not derivative of anything else that I've seen."

He adds: "I know there is a feeling sometimes that you in the art world need to be international but it's more exciting to discover new talent."