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7 Jul 2023

30 Jul 2023

Maria Lee & Gemma Syme

In Rock // Goddess, the artists Maria Lee and Gemma Syme question perceptions of feminine identity through the media of stone and print. Lee evokes the strength of female softness through her juxtaposition of the sensual feminine forms she sculpts, with the rigidity of the rock she carves. Through her series of prints of famous women – from Mary Magdalene to the drag star, Divine – Syme portrays feminine energy as a rich and vast spectrum of characters that challenge the way women have been narrowly defined.


Gemma Syme is a multidisciplinary artist based in Ōtautahi, whose work in video, performance, sound, digital technology and printmaking has been shown at galleries nationwide, as well as in Berlin, San Francisco and Japan. This collection of prints of blind point drawings were prompted by the “hairy” iconographies of Mary Magdalene, a woman “incessantly conflated, contorted and contradicted”. This led to contemplation on how iconic women are burdened with the responsibility of defining womanhood while being defined by others, and the resulting tensions that occur both publicly and privately.


Port Levy-based, Maria Lee has a bachelor’s degree in Visual Arts and Design and has been a practicing artist for over 30 years. Lee’s work balances contemporary and traditional sculpting processes to create feminine sculptures which suggest intimacy, whilst remaining minimalist and preserving the nature of the found rock. Interested in touch and consent, she has been exploring female sensual forms and positive expressions of sexuality. She creates work that appears soft and invites touch, while requiring strength and violence to shape its hard materials.

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