Museum and Heritage Studies, 2017
All that you breathe, 2013, is a two-part, black, cut-vinyl mural found on the north and south walls of the Reading Room on Level Two of the Kelburn Library at Victoria University of Wellington. The Reading Room is a space that encourages personal reflection and cultivates quiet study.
Lonnie Hutchinson is a multimedia visual artist who draws on themes and motifs from her multicultural heritage. Hutchinson uses her work to express social, political, gender and cultural concerns. All that you breathe was commissioned specifically for the Reading Room, as part of the Kelburn Campus Hub Project, with funds from the Art Fund of the Victoria University of Wellington Foundation.
The formal invitation for Hutchinson to create an art work was prepared by the Adam Art Gallery Te Pātaka Toi on behalf of the Victoria University of Wellington Art Collection in early September 2012. The instructions were open-ended and the artist was quick to accept the invitation, working to the tight deadline of a February 2013 unveiling.
Hutchinson developed a design that draws on her Ngāi Tahu and Samoan heritage. She uses imagery from her diverse heritage such as hue (gourd) vines with their pendant foliage, taro leaves, tī kouka (cabbage trees) and harakeke (flax). This has created a structured, yet organic composition.
The north wall juxtaposes the flat black images with a clear vanishing point to create perspective on the fluid horizon. The south wall contrasts with this as the flat image of hanging vine leaves creates a decorative design. Hutchinson sets her naturalistic composition against the stark infrastructure of the Reading Room, letting nature set the tone for individual study.
The final design was approved by the trustees of the Art Collection and installed by the Adam Art Gallery’s exhibition team. The vinyl was cut and produced by Displayschemes who printed it in several pieces for easier assembly on the wall. The art work was installed in early February 2013 over two days.
All that you breathe was formally unveiled on 13 February when it was blessed and welcomed into the Victoria University of Wellington Art Collection.
All that you breathe has a finite lifespan of 10 to 20 years, at which point the condition of the work will be assessed and its future decided. While current students consider the art work to be a permanent part of the Reading Room, the next generation may not study under All that you breathe if its condition has deteriorated. Due to its finite life the work will be carefully documented to ensure that it remains a part of the history of the University’s art collection. Platforms like STQRY ensure that works such as Hutchinson’s All that you breathe are accessible and relevant to current and future audiences.