I cannot write or say the word ‘exotic’ without thinking of Waynetta Slob (Kathy Burke on the Harry Enfield Show) who named her second child, Spudulika “It’s not Spud-u-like-a, it’s SPUDULIKA – it’s exotic!” (The other child was named Frogmella).
However, all week here, there has been an African elephant roaming around in a paddock near the shopping centre. Ok – it’s with the circus, but it is disconcerting to see an elephant in there with the cows. My partner’s office also looks out on this paddock and he said for a start he kept doing a double take when he saw it out the window. By the end of the week it didn’t seem so odd seeing a large exotic animal on the way to the supermarket.
I won’t get too much into the debate about circus animals, because no, it’s not the best thing and it would be great to see Jumbo re-homed with some other african elephants, but its not a perfect world. When I saw her roaming around freely and not exhibiting any of the compulsive behaviours I’ve seen in some other ex-circus elephants, I figure the owners are probably doing their best – for now. The situation needs to be monitored though.
What’s this go to do with art? Well I’ve been doing some reading on the whole “New Zealand light” theory and it occurred to me how like with Jumbo in our town centre, the exotic over time is assimilated into the everyday. So when European artists arrived here, (after the polynesian onesof course), they bought their exotic techniques, styles and materials. Over time New Zealand artists emerged, assimilating, incorporating and appropriating what NZ had to offer. The light may have been one factor. I can’t personally say, as I’ve only left NZ once and the light in the Australian outback was certainly different – but that is a limited comparison.
Of course the introduction of overseas influences continues, sometimes with local adaptions, sometimes not. Some NZ twists are not always smack you in the face obvious either. Maybe not a great example, but take Clairmont. Heavily influenced by Max Beckman, but you can’t get much more kiwi than Clothesline in the Nor-Wester.
Oh and writing a post about people being snarky, is snarky in itself isn’t it? :-)