Archive for August, 2008

Art in Nature

It was a fantastic day here, so I took the opportunity for a walk on the beach with the kids. When you live this close to the sea you can sometimes take it for granted and with thoughts of moving inland in the air, I am trying to make the most of it while we are here.

Anyway in between stopping the one-year-old eating too much sand and explaining the morphology of pumice to a 3-year-old I got thinking about art in nature. Here is some driftwood.

Photo by Stu Lloyd (from Flickr)

Here is some more

Photo by Pogorita (from Flickr)

Art is where you find it OR it becomes ART when it is ‘framed’ in a photograph? I guess you could get into a whole debate over art photography here. If you look for such things there is art in nature everywhere so why is it art when its ‘natures hand’ but ART when reproduced by an artist? Here is the all-time clichéd example.

Photo by Chris Heaton (from Flickr)

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A while ago I was asking around about the politics behind the gentrification of street art. Well yesterday I came across this about the restoration of street art in New York.

“Within the past year, two highly-prized, old school graffiti works have been retouched on the walls of lower Manhattan, while, this summer, a third work has been repainted in its entirety onto the brickwork of the Lower East Side. “

Personally I think money may be at the root of this more than simply a “new found reverence” for street art.

“[they] had been told by the building’s previous landlord that a Jean-Michel Basquiat work lay hidden in the building somewhere. Though the pair didn’t find one neatly-formed work behind the walls, the art they did uncover was perhaps of greater significance: a floor-to-ceiling hash of tags, throw-ups and burners belonging to such old school graffiti writers as Fab 5 Freddy, Futura 2000, Nesto, Ramellzee, as well as Basquiat.”

and of course Basquiat is worth bazillions so

“Irgang managed to remove and remount the graffiti to a lightweight panel, using a tissue paper, cheesecloth, adhesive, chisels and stiff fabric… the mural is due to join the collection of a major museum.”

– Am I being cynical? Also the restoration of Haring’s first major outdoor artwork seems a little off when “Keith himself covered over the work once the paint started to fade.”

Well – whatever. In other news I have found a interim solution for my desire for a mid century house (a la Plischke) – a mid century modern birdhouse

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I am currently looking at the possibility of returning to the provinces. OK, I am already halfway there but being only 45 mins from the Capital with good public transport makes it not quite feel so isolated.

Its not all bad of course. It is quite possible that I can even return to a Plischke suburb [.pdf file] which the nearest I’ll probably ever get to living in one of his houses, its a University town, has a reasonable gallery, many friends live there and just how often do I get into Wellington anyway? Also as a friend said, they do have the Internet there.

But, I also quite like my current seaside existence even if one geographical feature heavily dominates the landscape and the artwork.

Waikanae (1951) Rita Angus

Of course nothing is definite yet so I shall just keep “deaccessioning” and packing.

There is a lot of debate about how surroundings and domicle impact on people psychologically and I guess this is often reflected in art as well. For example McCahon’s Titirangi, Muriwai etc. Woolaston’s Nelson, Ronnie van Hout’s Christchurch house(s). There should be a travel guide to artistic NZ like the defunct literary one. Now there’s a project, in two volumes (art and literature), entertainingly written, hansomely photographed – anyone in?

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Discussions in the last few days have illustrated how, like me, there are many creative people (women) feeling frustrated by circumstance and a little starved of culture because of ‘domestic contraints’.

Now I can be a bit intolerant of stories of housewives emerging from their domestic coocons into creative butterflies because too often they are dismissive of families and partners, but in light of yesterday’s post I’d like to share this from a 1996 article about Patti Smith – which is somewhat different.

“Most surprising, to me, was a reference she made to a conversation she’d had with her late husband about the garbage disposal, in which she quoted him as calling her “Trisha.” This is clearly Smith’s altar ego: Trisha Smith, housewife, mother and part-time poet. We may not have suspected Trisha’s existence,  but I think we feared her nonetheless” 

So I suggest that when we feel down and in the creative doldrums we think about Trisha and Patti. And then maybe reach for the nearest Keri Smith book.

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