Archive for September, 2008

OK I stole that title from Mark Young’s blog, but this morning has been a little like one of Young’s postman poems. My version for today

Today the
postman brought
me Jim Baxter,
Martin Edmond
and Roy
They sing
in perfect harmony

Yeah yeah – obviously I am no poet, but in explanation I managed to obtain another one of JK Baxters PM Readers for children, “The Firemen” which arrived today along with “the big O revisited” a new book of poetry by Martin Edmond.

The Fireman book is a bit beyond my kids just now but nice to have and I am trying to get the other 4 in the series (I have The Seagull already).

“the big O revisited” is a delight from just a purely book angle. I don’t have the correct vocabulary to describe it, but the paper is beautiful and weighty and the printing is gorgeous (the excellent work of Michael Steven of Soapbox Press). The cover was lovely too until my 3 year old grabbed it with buttery fingers (need I repeat why we don’t own much artin this house?). As for the contents, the ‘liner notes’ explain all, a travel sequence from the mid-1990s of a journey through New Zealand. I will not attempt a review because, what do I know about poetry?, but I will say I am very pleased to own this book.

I hope I am not being presumptuous in reproducing one of the poems here. My family farm was above Curio Bay and my grandfather was always cursing the petrified wood he would plough up. Luckily he donated some of it to the Southland Museum where it is now displayed outside. On with the poetry…


Pendant to
the sweep of

the whole is

Curio Bay

& a noise
like thunder

beyond the dune”

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I haz a sad

So sad in fact I have resorted to LOLspeak because the cats always cheer me up. However if cats aren’t your thing try LOL News and Politics – the Putin one had me laughing off and on for hours.

But sad because I didn’t get to the Rita Angus symposium and by all accounts so far (e.g. Best-of-3 and Jack Ross) it was rather wonderful. Great that Jack posted the full text of Bronwyn Lloyd’s presentation “The Dream Children”. Thanks – but still *sigh*

Oh well – on the plus side Deborah from “In a Strange Land” has passed the Brilliante Blog award on to me. An honour and thanks for the kind words. Its a meme sort of thing so I’ll be passing it forward in another post soon. Loving the retro/80s logo too.

Other things that have caught my eye lately:

This quote from Time’s Richard Lacayo on why he’s not covering the Damien Hirst auction: “I do what I can to talk about art but I don’t know what to say about shopping.”

This cool paste work – Huia (check out the original post for the name badge):

and the funniest art merchandise I’ve seen so far:

Men’s boxer shorts featuring the salsiccia belonging to none other than Michelangelo’s David (photo from C-Monster.net)

 Finally – for Merc – someone in a bear suit

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Showing in all the best artworks

I read this recently from Kaka Point by Hone Tuwhare

“…The power-pole is festooned
with a choir of singing wires – a Kiwi Landscape
of classical distinction. Second–rate artists
Leave it out of their pictures, altogether.”

and now I am seeing phone and power lines in all the best artworks.

Fog, Hawkes Bay – Rita Angus

Others I can think of are by Gopas, Lusk, Frizzell, Nigel Brown, Lois White. I have an idea Hotere or Driver may have worked with actual poles/lines (can anyone confirm?). On a quick scout I was surprised I couldn’t find them in McCahon or Woolaston though. Any other examples would be greatly received in the comments ….

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Off the Wall

Continuing on with my internal debate around street art and gentrification, I found this article at Wooster Collective “30 Pixadores stormed the Choque Cultural Gallery in protest against the “marketing, institutionalization and domestication of Street Art’ by the galleries and media“. I am not sure I am with the Pixadores on this, as I am more for deconstruction rather than destruction – I don’t call myself a postmodern housewife for nothing. However “domestication” is a much better term than gentrification for taking street art indoors. I had a brief discussion via email about this issue some time ago with one of the guys from Streetarse  and also a LONG debate on Artbash has made me feel better about it over time.

And so I have ventured into domestication myself with my first purchase of this stencil art by Hawkes Bay artist Graspone.

Described as “one-off hand painted/stencilled renditions of trainyard graffiti” and what I think is the best in this series. I can see similarities to work by SOLE (which I love and dag-nam-it missed his show at Manky Chops recently). Personally I think he has huge potential.

Graspone an emerging artist* in this area, is now at design school in Wellington and has also recently been involved in a great Council grafitti initiative in Hastings creating a free legal space to display work on the seven pillars of a bridge between Napier and Hastings.

Grasonpone’s work on Hawkes Bays first legal grafitti bridge (Click image for larger pic).

This kind of initiative has to be good, even though some in the street art fraternity see ‘legals’ as a form of domestication. Jacqui Barnes from the council said “not everyone will approve of giving taggers a free legal space to work on, but at least it will keep some off the streets.” I am not so sure that “off the streets” is necessarily a good thing, but on the other hand its great to be able to sit here at my desk and look at some really good stencil art. But now I am wondering if I should frame it….?

*I say emerging rather than young because ,well, everyone is younger than me in this area right?

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Sometimes its really odd what you think about – or maybe its just me. Today while hanging out the washing (which I find very meditative) I got to thinking how photography is like the “creative non-fiction” (or non-non-fiction as Greg O’Brien puts it) of the visual art world. Having just read “The Evolution of Mirrors” I was thinking how Martin Edmond’s writing and Peter Peryer’s photography are comparable and how its possible to create such strong images with words. Then I was thinking that other art forms possibly have literary equivalents.

Following on, recently I had a discussion with a friend about “outsider artists” and “outsider poets” whom we both had encountered. And last night I was thinking how many artists and writers might feel “outsiders” at times. Yet again, connections are everywhere.

Ratana Temple, Ratana

Connections also presented themselves (while weeding the veggie garden) when I was musing over someone’s mention of the Ratana church. I went to Ratana a while back (on the way to the MAU show at the Sarjeant Gallery) but I felt weird staring at the temple and left quickly. So today I was thinking “Why didn’t I feel weird staring at the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament in Christchurch?”. And you can easily see why I connected the two. I still can’t specifically explain why, as I am an outsider to any christian faith.


I love Ratana temples – the lines are so beautifully simple, yet eloquent. In my small view of architecture these are strong points.

Kotare over Ratana Church, Te Kau(1964) by Don Binney

Ratana Church near Raetihi

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Colouring inside the lines

When my 5-year-old started school earlier this year, she had never been taught to “colour inside the lines”. We had colouring books around, but it was never a priority and I’d never bothered to explain how they were “meant” to work. This “inability” immediately made her suspicious to the teacher who saw it as a lack as when presented with a photocopied sheet to colour in she would simply turn it over and draw her own picture.

In the end I conceded the point that colouring in had an educational purpose e.g. how to operate pencils, crayons and brushes properly, co-ordination and a certain amount of discipline. I was helped along by this comment from tinks at OnemomentcallerDiscussing the school-based art education of their young kids, a contemporary art collector I know once suggested that you have to learn the rules before you can break them, which I kind of like, and suspect I’ll cling to in the coming years.” I also invested in this colouring book which helped me get my head around the colouring issue although as yet I haven’t let her loose on it. I still think a NZ edition would be quite brilliant – any publishers want to take me up on it? I’d be happy to do it and it would be a great seller Te Papa Press!

The issue made me think of how I used to look at abstract art. I always wanted to know if the artists could really paint/draw – you know, before they went all weird, because I wanted to see a technical ability that initially I couldn’t see in say a Pollock drip painting. Great technical execution is something I really admire in art but now I can see it in less orthodox works as well.

I’ve found it can also redeem mediums which I am not overly fond of. Recently I met an artist, Steve Hall, whose watercolours I just love. Maybe not your cup of tea but look at the light in “1907”. (yes, yes, the old NZ light issue)

Sadly it looks like I won’t be getting to the Angus Symposium this weekend, but on a brighter note “Evolution of Mirrors” arrived in the post so some good reading ahead.

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Sitting on the fence

There has been a lot of talk on blogging lately in literature. It was a big topic in the Q&A part of Martin Edmond’s reading I attended at Massey and it was also the subject of one of the sessions at the recent Christchurch Writers Festival. So I was thinking of the writers I’d love to read if they had a blog – a bit like those “ultimate dinner party guest” questions. Almost instantly I thought of Gregory O’Brien and David Eggleton.

And then today I found (again via Graham Beattie’s blog) Greg O’Brien’s reflections on New Zealand arts and letters from this year’s Janet Frame Memorial Lecture. It is a wonderful piece of writing (read it!!) and there are so many bits I could quote but one section talked of the reasons that perhaps I thought of the two writers above “For better or worse, I have spent most of the last twenty years happily sitting on the fence between visual arts and writing, trying to keep up with the traffic both ways. ” – a mirror of my own interests.

Another thing which I found interesting and inspiring was “Ezra Pound once said to the young critic Hugh Kenner, ‘You have an obligation to visit the great men [and women] of your own time.’ “ and O’Brien’s talk of visiting with some “big names” but he “never thought of those authors as the Establishment—they were living ingredients that Literature had passed down to my generation“. So I’ve been thinking it would be good to talk to artists some more. After all, I’ve found my discussions with writers to be ‘soul food’. and as O’Brien writes “Literature is a life lived

Dusky Sound (Never Weather-Beaten Saile) 2008 – Greg O’Brien

And now of course I am musing about the ultimate New Zealand Arts and Literature dinner party (limit 8 guests). Suggestions of past or present participants in the comments would be great fun.

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