The 1988 work Duraband 10 by the late Don Driver is part of a series utilising nylon webbing as a material. With layers of vivid pink strips stitched onto plastic, the assemblage expresses Driver’s material intuition and playfulness – it’s energetic, full of life and potential movement.

For Ballón Assemblé – literally meaning ‘balloon assemblage’ but in ballet terminology referring to a particular light leap – Duraband 10 is paired with a dance partner. Jack Hadley was invited to create new work in response to Driver’s piece in the Chartwell Collection. The desire to imagine Duraband 10 in motion inspired Hadley’s reply, which began with the design of a purpose-built mobile gallery wall to allow Driver’s work to stretch its legs and float across the floor.

Driver endowed his creations with an idiosyncratic sense of play and exploration, breathing life into found materials – the type often seen in a barn or shed: spades, tubes, wheels, canvas. Hadley shares these material interests, working predominantly in metal and plastic and collaging forms drawn from the home or factory to create playful and surprising effects.

Beside the wall structure for Duraband 10, Hadley offers companion pieces – the corps de ballet or backup dancers – that further articulate the kinetic energy within Driver’s work. Together, the works explore the realm of things that wiggle and slide. 

Hadley’s interest in Driver was originally inspired by a story he heard about the artist’s childhood ambition to be a magician. Here, Hadley conjures up a conversation with the artist – two tricksters in a call and response.

Don Driver (1930–2011) has been described as one of Aotearoa New Zealand’s most idiosyncratic artists. His assemblage works, made from found and discarded objects, have consistently stimulated and challenged his audiences. The artist could never be tied to any one movement or school; instead, his works skip lightly over boundaries and classifications. Driver’s work was exhibited widely across Aotearoa throughout the 1970s, 80s and 90s, and is now held in significant national collections, including those of the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa and the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, as well as in the Chartwell Collection housed at Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki.

Jack Hadley is an artist and educator based in Tāmaki Makaurau. In a wide-ranging practice that spans sculpture, furniture and contemporary jewellery, Hadley layers references to architecture, the decorative arts and children’s toys and pairs industrial materials and manufacturing processes with the traditional techniques of fine jewellery. Hadley holds a BFA (2012) and an MFA (2021) from Elam School of Fine Arts. Recent exhibitions include Polypody, Laree Payne Gallery, 2023; Arts & Crafts, Gallery Funaki, 2023; and Living Room, Objectspace Ōtautahi, 2023.

Ballón Assemblé is a Chartwell 50th Anniversary Project, marking the Chartwell Collection’s first acquisition in March 1974 and the 50-year contribution to Aotearoa arts that the Trust has made since.

A visit to Jack Hadley's studio, photographs by Sam Hartnett