Shelley Simpson Hoax, 2019
Stainless steel, dimensions variable.
In 1852 it was announced that gold had been found on Waiheke. £100 had been offered to anyone who found gold on the Island, and a man named Merrick was claiming the prize. An investigation team set out to the Island to see whether the claim was legitimate, only to find that it was not, and the event became known as the ‘Waiheke Gold Hoax.’
During the 19th century the hunt for gold in NZ was fierce. Fortunes were made and lost, communities were rapidly built and just as quickly abandoned. If gold had been discovered at Waiheke, it would be a different place today. Waiheke offers other riches; as a holiday destination, a place to make wine, a valued home, a place of refuge, a creative centre and a beautiful natural treasure.
The highly reflective surfaces of Hoax reflect our desires back to us, which in the 19th century may have been the riches available to those who extracted minerals from the Earth. Now in the 21st century we look for solutions to the problems we have inherited directly from the types of behaviour that extractive mining was and is part of. Today, we search for a way to navigate the difficulties of living in the Anthropocene, the geological epoch we now inhabit, when, for the first time, human activity is clearly present in the geological record.
Born in Christchurch. Lives and works in Auckland.
Shelley Simpson considers ideas around ecology and materialism, specifically transformation, cooperation and symbiosis. She works in a variety of media, including sculpture, installation, video and photography. Her recent projects have been based on mining; exploring the complex relationship we have with the land and extractive technologies. In 2018 she was the recipient of a Wild Creations grant from Creative NZ and the Department of Conservation. The grant enabled her to travel to Port Pegasus in Rakiura, Stewart Island to work on a project about a 19th Century tin mining rush.
Shelley received an MFA (First class honours) from Elam in 2016. She is a member of the RM Gallery and Project Space directorial collective.