Wanda Gillespie

Wanda Gillespie, A Counting Frame for Circular Economies, 2022

1Cedar, macrocarpa, stainless steel. 1915 x 1645 x 200mm.

A Counting Frame for Circular Economies begins with the question of how to value what is immeasurable. Do we calculate the dollar value of mangrove forests and pollinators for their thankless contributions to life and economic systems? Is the attempt to do so possible, or just absurd?

Wanda Gillespie’s abacus gestures to literal methods of counting, implying slow, tactile labour that offers an alternative to the fast-paced and self-effacing (under)world of stocks, bonds and synthetic debt, inequality indexes and interest rates. Its interior steel frame, along which the individual hand-carved timber beads slide, is wrought to recall patterns in nature, like the golden ratio and Fibonacci spiral, and the innumerable systems that play a role in the continued cycling forth of life.

While these systems might be beyond remuneration (a living wage for bees would be an absurd proposal), the work might make us think of other measures, such as a universal basic income or a toxicity tax for polluting corporations, that remain well within the limits of the doable, and the new metrics of value they entail.


Lives and works in Auckland.

Wanda Gillepsie describes her artistic practice as motivated by “a belief in the spiritual potency of physical objects.” This belief has led her to work with wood as her primary sculptural medium over a decades-long career. In her work, the lively energy of the material coalesces with the artist’s mastery of her craft, which she turns upon forms ancient and contemporary, familiar, and phantasmic.

Gillespie holds a Master of Fine Arts with First Class Honours from the Victorian College of the Arts, The University of Melbourne and a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Intermedia) from the Elam School of Fine Art, The University of Auckland. Recent solo projects include ‘Nests’, Artweek Auckland (2020) and ‘Higher Thought Forms,’ Sanderson Contemporary, Auckland (2019). Her work has been the recipient of several contemporary art awards, including, most recently, the Jury Prize at the Wallace Art Awards (2020).

wandagillespie.com @wanda.gillespie