Simon Ogden | Digging in the Dirt for Diamonds

Simon Ogden | Digging in the Dirt for Diamonds

Digging in the Dirt for Diamonds is Simon Ogden’s latest exhibition in Auckland. His practice encompasses painting, printmaking, assemblage and sculpture and is one of the few artists in the world working with antique and ‘found’ linoleum to produce striking landscapes. The exhibition is comprised of a new series of linoleum assemblages, presented alongside two painted works and a beautifully constructed rug, produced in collaboration with Dilana. The intersection at which these approaches meet is at the heart of Simon’s practice which explores the interplay and transformative power between media, object and form.

There is a sense of alchemy to Ogden’s linoleum constructions, in his use of discarded and salvaged remnants of linoleum flooring to create lyrical assemblages, with sculptural presence and visceral power. His compositions are an enchanting symphony of colour, form and texture which shift between figuration and abstraction. Subject matter is drawn from personal memories of place and experience, as well as an interest in modernist biomorphic abstraction – whereby organic abstract forms resemble shapes found in nature. Recurring motifs – like birds, moons, moths and plant forms – appear throughout, providing the viewer with visual touchstones and allow the works to move between the real and the imaginary. The recurrent features which populate these assembled landscapes present a world that is at once alien, and very familiar simultaneously, suggestive of the subconscious mind or the potential of what could be.

Ogden’s work can be can be viewed as theatrical tableau – reflective spaces – which present an intriguing ambiguity, with multiple layers of meaning open for interpretation by the viewer. Not only is there the artist’s narrative to consider but each carefully considered linoleum cut-out is already imbued with its own history, each fragment eliciting the memory of its former location. The intertwined relationship of the material and visual components draws connections between different times and places as Damien Wilkins suggested “Odgen frees us to think of what’s to come. It’s this doubleness that gives the work it’s secret power of enchantment.” (1)

(1) Damien Wilkins, Simon Ogden: Quiet Reflections


Simon Ogden was born in 1956 in Bradford, England. He graduated from Birmingham University with first class Honours degree in Sculpture, following which he obtained a Masters in Painting from the Royal College of Art, London. He lives and works in Christchurch, New Zealand, and until recently was an Associate Professor at the School of Fine Arts at the University of Canterbury. Simon has exhibited extensively and his work is included in numerous private, public and corporate collections including:

Victoria & Albert Museum, UK,  Christchurch City Art Gallery Te Puna O Waiwhetu,  Li Ka Shing Foundation, Hong Kong, Christies Contemporary Arts, UK,  University of Canterbury, Christchurch NZ,  University of Canterbury, Christchurch, NZ,   CSA Gallery Christchurch NZ,   College House Collection, Manawatu Public Art Gallery, Palmerston North, NZ,  Massey University, Palmerston North, NZ, Canterbury Hospital Board, NZ,  Dunmoochin Foundation, Melbourne, Aust,  St Cuthbert’s College, Auckland, NZ,   Christchurch Polytechnic, NZ,   Air Nippon Airlines (ANA), Japan,   Toyko Bank, Japan,  Satachi & Satachi, New York, US, Peter Jackson/Fran Walsh, Wallace Arts Trust Collection, NZ,  Christchurch College of Education, NZ,  St Barbara’s Church, Mansfield UK,   Royal College of Art UK.

More work to be added. Contact the gallery for the full exhibition catalogue