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Archive for September, 2011

Good Work

Quite a while ago now, I was working for a big corporate in Wellington in the IT industry, unhappy in my job and life and asking some of those big existential questions, when I stumbled across the concept of “Right Livelihood“. To cut a long story short, I retrained as a midwife and worked doing that for some years. When I ended up being mum to three kids under 5, I took a break from paid work and amongst other things started this blog. Now after a short stint in elderly care work, I am going back to midwifery, something I consider “good work”.

Ideas of good work can vary and are quite subjective. It would be judgemental to start categorising what is and isn’t ‘good’, but I guess there are some things that would spring to mind as not good. For me someone not doing good work might be …. administering leathal injections to those on death row or something.

In a less extreme sense, some might also consider artists and writers not to be doing ‘good work’ – a lovely example here. But I read this on the ‘Art, Life, TV etc”  blog recently:

I’ve never been more aware of the importance of the humanities to people and society than in the last year. The humanities help people make sense of the great events of their own lives and times. There are stories that can only be told through mediums such as painting, or literary non-fiction, or poetry, or music…The particular frame that the artist or the writer puts on their account of life in the city after the earthquake — what they leave out, what they put in — determines how these events, and their politics, will be remembered.”

This is good work…..and I think the arts are often undervalued in this respect. I am lucky enough that in my new job I get to pass by some stunning art everyday. It makes me smile, some makes me think, but its art “hard at work” and in my view, doing good work.

So I am awarding many gold starts to the arts and artists today and also to all those everywhere doing good work.

The cover of the exhibition catalogue for “Good Work – The Jim Barr & Mary Barr Collection” featuring a work by Mikala Dwyer Good work (1994)

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Ok, ok ‘love’ might be an exaggeration but the hype surrounding the hosting of the RWC here in New Zealand has brought some good things about. A friend did say that it’s a pity that it takes a sporting event to bring out the good art but hey, why look a gift horse in the mouth eh?

Firstly, and maybe just a coincidence, but the refurbished Auckland Art Gallery has just opened in time for the cup crowds. Apparently it’s a stunner .

In Wellington there is a collaborative exhibition Oceania between the City Gallery and Te Papa. Some of the best of NZ art will be on show. I’d give A LOT  to get to this exhibition – if you can SEE IT!

In my area the Dunedin Public Art Gallery has Fiona Pardington’s The Pressure of Sunlight Falling exhibtion and also the wonderful Hotere/Culbert work Pathway to the Sea – Aramoana on show.


Ralph Hotere and Bill Culbert
Pathway to the Sea – Aramoana 1991(detail)
paua shells, rocks, flourecent tubes.
Collection Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa

I think its good that these shows provide some thought-provoking material rather than the postcard tourist variety. None more so (I think) than another local exhibition – Rachael Rakena’ 3D video work Haka Peepshow situated in Dunedin’s Octagon.

“Kaupapa:- Haka Peepshow is a celebration of the diversity of contemporary haka in Maori and broader New Zealand culture. In an era, when the haka is frequently a commercial branding device, this coin-operated peepshow invites viewers to take a fresh look at the haka and to consider it in the broader context of the sexualisation and commodification of Maori sportsmen and the representation of their masculinity and culture in the media.”

OK – it’s taken rugby to get all this art out there but I hope visitors and locals alike take something deeper away from it.

NOTE: Sadly, the Christchurch Art Gallery remains closed but their blog, ‘Bunker Notes’ is very active and always worth reading.

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