I had a little spare time today so I stopped by The Dowse in the Hutt Valley to see ‘Sinfonia Antartica’. I haven’t been to the “New Dowse” (since the upgrade) and I am sorry to say I’m not overly impressed. Firstly I hate the pink and really what’s with the entrance way – that isn’t? You have to check out what Over the Net had to say about it starting with “someone once said that the sign of a great building was a lack of signs” Well the Dowse is not only over-run with signs but I still had to ask someone where Sinfonia Antartcia was AND I had a floor plan as well. Maybe I have limited spacial abilities or was still trying to get my bearings relative to how the gallery USED to be. Oh and the Dowse is NOT the really the place for the gallerina attitude ok (or whatever the male version is).
Enough grumbling – after I found it, I was very impressed with the exhibition. “Sprinkled with snippets of poetry, hung with gargantuan prints of ice caps and filled with an atmospheric soundtrack, Sinfonia Antarctica, showcases this great white continent as seen through the eyes of painters Dick Frizzell, Nigel Brown and Grahame Sydney, ceramist Raewyn Atkinson, writers Bill Manhire and Chris Orsman, jeweller Kirsten Haydon, textile artist Clare Plug and photographers Anne Noble, Andris Apse and Joyce Campbell”
I have to say firstly that I am a bit of a Nigel Brown ‘fan’ so I enjoyed his paintings, special because he tried to actually paint ‘on the ice’ and has stories to tell about that! I was particularly impressed with a textile work by Clare Plug, a medium that you might not think lends itself to the subject but it was great. Apse’s photograhs were quite amazing and caught an unexpected granduer but Joyce Campbell’s long prints of the Barne Glacier were quite amazing. The photos of white ice on the white gallery really worked better than you’d think and they were so cleverly hung. “Her intention in full scale exhibition display is to induce a sense of human insignificance”. It was not over-curated either but to the point when I asked for accompanying literature – there wasn’t any (‘well not that we can just hand out”). When I got home I had a good look on the web and found that this exhibition is part of the NZSO ‘Exploring Antartica’ programme and there are a whole lot of related events, artists talks etc and further information at that site, including the Artists to Antarctica scheme
At the Dowse they were selling the book I am reading “The Wide White Page” in association with the exhibition, but here’s a tip – I got mine for $5 at a remainder sale at Whitcoulls.
However the highlight of the trip was “Assume Nothing” ‘portrait photographs by Rebecca Swan, and award-winning documentary footage by Kirsty McDonald, reveals both the extraordinary, and often very ordinary worlds of New Zealand’s transgender community.‘ I was stunned by the photos – not because of the content (in fact I know more than one of the subjects personally) but because of the essence Swan has managed to capture on film.
I wish I’d had more time to look about. Definitely worth going to see and there are a lot of events on related to both these exhibitions.