Ann Shelton <em>doublethink</em> installation view in Midhirst Photo Bryan James

Ann Shelton doublethink installation view in Midhirst Photo Bryan James


28 Sep 2013 — 2 Feb 2014

Ann Shelton: doublethink

doublethink is an adjunct project to Ann Shelton’s exhibition The City of Gold and Lead at Sarjeant Gallery, Whanganui, 27 July to 3 November 2013.

doublethink is curated by Meredith Robertshawe from the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery.

Site-oriented exhibition
Midhirst, New Plymouth, Whanganui

On 18 November 1982, educated anarchist and young punk Neil Roberts took a planned, radical and finite step: he attempted to blow up the ‘Wanganui Computer’ at Wairere House on the Whanganui River. A then-powerful symbol of ‘Big Brother’, the computer was the physical manifestation of the New Zealand Government’s first foray into archiving digital data on its citizens.

Informed and deeply concerned by political developments in early 1980s’ Aotearoa New Zealand, Roberts lost his life in the bombing. Roberts’ extreme action tapped into public ill-feeling towards the computer and its mythical status throughout the country.

Shortly before the bombing, Roberts graffiti-ed “We have maintained a silence closely resembling stupidity” on a nearby public toilet wall. This phrase is translated from the 1809 revolutionary proclamation of South America’s first independent government, the Junta Tuitiva in La Paz (now Bolivia), as it declared its independence from the Spanish Crown.


Written with sparklers in the night sky and photographed in Whanganui on the 30th anniversary of the bombing and Roberts’ death, Ann Shelton’s work doublethink reiterates and repositions this graffiti-ed message, asking questions about its relevance, problematic status and meaning in today’s social landscape.


A publication accompanies this project in the form of both a flat and folded poster of the artwork with an essay. Each publication features one of the eight posters that make up the artwork. Flat posters will be available from Monday 14 October at Cafe Govett-Brewster in New Plymouth and Sarjeant Gallery in Whanganui. Folded posters will be available from Tuesday 15 October at the Midhirst Dairy, Midhirst General Store, Midhirst Tavern and Midhirst Service Station, as well as i-site and other venues.


Wellington-based Ann Shelton is Chair of Enjoy Public Art Gallery, Wellington’s longest running artist-run space and is Associate Professor at Whiti o Rehua - The School of Art, Massey University Wellington. Shelton has exhibited nationally and internationally and was artist-in-residence at the Govett Brewster Art Gallery in 2004. Shelton has several works in the Govett-Brewster Collection.