Archive for March, 2010

This week I have been thinking (and talking) a lot about critique and reviews. I was going to put my thoughts down here with links to said reviews and comments, but while watching a movie with my kids I was reminded of this scene. Maybe simplistic, but one certainly worth watching.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

For those who don’t want to watch the video , it begins…

In many ways, the work of a critic is easy. We risk very little, yet enjoy a position over those who offer up their work and their selves to our judgment. We thrive on negative criticism, which is fun to write and to read. But the bitter truth we critics must face, is that in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is probably more meaningful than our criticism designating it so.”

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Art on Sale

Shopping at end of season sales…and thinking of Richard Killeen

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I have been working hard lately on an essay (and some PR) for an exhibition catalogue.

Joanna Margaret Paul – The Colour of Candour
5th – 25th Mar 2010
Brett McDowell Gallery, Dunedin

Following her untimely death in 2003, Joanna Margaret Paul left a legacy of thousands of items of art and poetry. The art collection, now housed in Dunedin is being catalogued and is represented by the Brett McDowell Gallery. The gallery’s annual Joanna Margaret Paul show focuses on watercolour drawings of a domestic nature, although several examples of her architectural works, landscapes and nature studies, hint at her range. Most of these works have not been previously exhibited.

 A hardcover limited edition, numbered, near fine press catalogue has been published in association with the exhibition by Kilmog Press and was launched at the opening. The catalogue features selected images from the exhibition and an essay by Pauline Dawson (that’s me!).

Here is an image of the catalogue cover (I’ll be updating with a different image soon). I talked a bit in the essay about Paul’s use of white space (white also being the colour of candour) and Kilmog echoed that in their design. As usual the book is a lovely object in itself.


When writing these catalogues essays I’ve found I develop quite an affection for the artist and their work. I am no academic art historian and tend to take a slightly psycho/social take on art. So, apart from signing my first ever book on Friday night (a very exciting moment), I took the comment ‘oh you must have known Joanna’  from someone who had read the essay, as quite a compliment.

The catalogue is available for purchase from Brett McDowell Gallery, Parsons Books, Auckland, Kilmog Press or myself directly.

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The Things I’ve seen

I have been slack of late reporting on art I’ve seen. I have this problem … what to say when things aren’t bad , but they aren’t stunning either???? I will try to work though it here in these notes.

Beloved – Dunedin Public Art Gallery
Like Brought to Light at the Christchurch Art Gallery, this is a new hang from the collection. It’s bold. It’s NOT subtle. Mostly it works. Great analysis here at EyeContact (see my comment also). An excellent speech at the opening from Hamish Keith. Incredibly sad about how AMs chair was ‘reduced’ by the Judy Millar beside it, mind you it takes a bit to subdue a Clairmont.

Eddie Clemens – Delusional Architecture. Hocken Library Dunedin
The show from his 2009 year as Frances Hodgkins fellow. I’ve seen some of his other work and liked it much better. I hate saying that about art because it’s a touch of “I like your old stuff better than your new stuff’. This show though….I couldn’t make the connections from the artist’s statement with the actual work. Its seemed tired and jaded (maybe that was the point) I liked the shopping trolley photos with fluorescent tubes as handles best – maybe because I spend a lot of time pushing a trolley. Just because I dont’ get it doesn’t mean its bad though. Go and see for yourself.

Martin Thompson – 5 New Works  Brett McDowell Gallery
Actually I liked the newer stuff here. Its art you need time with. I liked it. I really liked the ones where the tiny blocks of graph paper had been cut out to fix ‘mistakes’ leaving a kind of signature on the paper.

Martin Thompson – Untitled

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