Soothing space: Bailee Lobb's 'Pineapple Place in Yellow Space', displayed at Toi Poneke last May. PICTURE: SARAH JAMIESON


It was a bout of insomnia that sparked the creation ‘In Bathing, Bask’, Te Atamira’s first exhibition in its gallery space, Whakaari.

The exhibition, by Wellington-based artist, Bailee Lobb, is a series of inflatable textile sculptures, each in different colours, shapes and sizes, designed to create immersive environments.

Lobb lives with fibromyalgia, which she says is a condition where the central nervous system is overexcited, resulting in episodic flares of widespread pain, fatigue, and cognitive impairment.

Lobb says, as an artist, she’s always created immersive spaces, but ‘In Bathing, Bask’ was a way for her to explore sensory stimming spaces and why they were effective for her.

‘‘I started thinking about, is it the shape? Is it the colour? Is it the scale?’, and that’s why there’s so much variation in ‘In Bathing, Bask’.’’

Lobb’s first inflatable structure came about two years before the exhibition itself, as a practical solution to her insomnia at the time.

An artful solution: Artist Bailee Lobb used to struggle with insomnia, which led to the creation of her exhibition, ‘In Bathing, Bask’. PICTURE: CHESKA BROWN

‘‘I used to have this thing … when the golden light in the morning would come, that’s when I would start to feel sleepy and so I wanted to create a space that would emulate that golden light that I could maybe go into in the evening to prepare for sleep,’’ she says.

Lobb laughs as she describes living in a house with flatmates and how that first iteration of inflatable sculpture only just fit in her room.

‘‘I did used to put it up on my bed.

‘‘Having it be something that I can put on the bed means that I can create like a mini space for myself that is already going to be comfortable because it’s on a soft surface, but it’s also fully enclosed and it just gives the illusion of being in a different place where you are solely by yourself.’’

The installation at Te Atamira includes orange, blue, pink and yellow sculptures of varying shapes and sizes.

She says the feel of the exhibition will be different for everybody but hopes people will enjoy and utilise it nonetheless.

‘‘I did see, when the show was up in Toi Poneke, in May last year, that not only were there a lot of people staying for, say, an hour in the space — which is quite unusual for a gallery space — also, people came back more than once.

‘‘The need now seems to be so much greater for people to have spaces for decompression and self-regulation because the last two years of our lives have just been so stressful.’’

In Bathing, Bask, Te Atamira, till July 3, free entry