Collection

Produce
Don Driver

1982

Don Driver
b.
1930
Title:
Produce
Production date:
1982
Accession No:
82/16
Measurements:
2075 x 4600 x 205mm
Media:
mixed media (fabrics, plastic, jute, rubber, with agricultural implements)

Collection Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, New Plymouth. Purchased from Monica Brewster Bequest in 1982.

Don Driver is one of New Zealand’s most idiosyncratic artists. His assemblage works, made from found and discarded objects, have consistently stimulated and challenged his audiences. Driver could never be tied to any one movement or school; his works skip lightly over boundaries and classifications. Produce, composed from found clothing, agricultural tools, sacking, rubber and a large blue tarpaulin, bursts out of traditional genre conventions. It is a sculpture which behaves more like a painting — it hangs on the wall, it occupies a shallow two-dimensional plane, and it is a carefully composed arrangement of colours and textures.

Underpinning the artful juxtaposition of popping colours is an ominous feeling of threat. The items of clothing are crowded together as if to suggest a group of people. Combined with the dangling pitchforks, which are popularly associated with angry mobs, the words printed on the central panel of sacking: “Dried Blood, Product of New Zealand” seem positively alarming.

Produce could be read as a regionalist work which dwells on the particularities of place. The line-up of clothing seems to describe a sequence of generations, births and deaths, or the cyclical nature of an agricultural economy. The fertility of both blood and soil translates into the region’s produce, be it art or agriculture. Driver’s use of recycled materials also recalls wares for sale, spread out on a mat or tarpaulin at a makeshift market or rural fair. Produce seems to delight in ambiguous or conflicting meanings, which may reflect Driver’s own ambivalent relationship with his home region, Taranaki. As an artist, Driver has been enormously supported by the Taranaki community, but has also been the subject of many letters of outrage to the editors of the local newspapers. Produce oscillates between humour and menace, as if the brightly dressed locals at the market seem harmless enough, but keep their pitchforks handy.