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Back in January, David Bowie died. There was an outpouring of grief and many, many think pieces, tributes etc., that I didn’t feel I could add anything. This loss hit me hard and quite unexpectedly. I was not a “fan” although I was of an age to have been very enthusiastic about Let’s Dance in the 80s, but before and after he was mostly background music.

The thing is, when the back catalogue was played over and over in January, I knew all the songs and most of the words. The visual imagery surrounding Bowie was as familiar as the family album. In going through my vinyl (kept in a box in the basement) I found this – a relic from my older brothers I guess.

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Bowie was part of my whole life, I was born the year of one of his biggest hits. He (and his music) was always THERE. While I was the sort of person who eschewed “pop”, I was very fond of his movies particularly Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence and The Hunger. I knew him through his work with Lou Reed and Iggy Pop. In fact when he released “Tonight” in 1984, I already knew it from Pop and those instantly recognisable backing vocals which can also be heard on Lou Reed’s Satellite of Love.

I hadn’t heard Blackstar when news of Bowie’s death came out but I agree with many others that it was a startling end point. I still wonder where the fuck did Monday go.

I suppose I have nothing new to say. I still feel a loss, a gap where Bowie was and now isn’t. We all had our own version of the mercurial Bowie, and we still have the music. However I am amazed at the pervasiveness of his influence. Although he …isn’t here, we will still find him in unexpected places.

2016-02-10 14.36.44      Resene_Bowie
Paint mixer at Resene, Dunedin (Jan 2016)                                                           Paint Colour “Bowie” Resene Paints




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December Quiz

What is it?


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Mt Stupid

This is pretty much why I don’t write about art so much these days. I realised I was speaking from the top of Mount Stupid. So many mistakes…..

Stolen from CMBC comics

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Quantum of Solace

“…when the ‘Quantum of Solace’ drops to zero, humanity and consideration of one human for another is gone.” (Ian Fleming)

I have written before about Comfort Art and I have been finding solace in art of late. There is a pretty substantial art collection where I work. My new job (as with any new job I guess) is pretty stressful at times. Luckily I get to ‘decompress’ on my way home as I pass various works; nearly every day I pass Robin white’s large ‘Seven Hills’ for example. If only I could take a break now and again and instead of (or as well as) getting a coffee* just ‘go down to look at the Hoteres’ …but perhaps then they really would think I am mad

A comment from David Cauchi on my Comfort Art post quoted Matisse…

It is my dream to create an art which is filled with balance, purity and calmness, freed from a subject matter that is disconcerting or too attention-seeking. In my paintings, I wish to create a spiritual remedy, similar to a comfortable armchair which provides rest from physical expectation for the spiritually working, the businessman as well as the artist.”

Job done guys…job well done

* The Dispensary makes AWESOME coffee especially the if the barista you can see in the photos here is about.

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Anderson Park Art Gallery, Invercargill with a Jeffrey Harris

Also I was told my children have good gallery manners

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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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A hat trick

Completely serendipitously I have managed to see three Ralph Hotere exhibitions in the last 2 weeks.

First was the show Zero to Infinity at the Hocken Collections celebrating Hotere’s 80th birthday and described as “highlights milestones and lesser known moments in the prodigious career of Ralph Hotere“. It was a mixed bag drawn from the Hocken’s and private collections. It included some great pieces and the selection showed some of the range of his work.

A week later we were in Invercargill and took our usual look round the Southland Museum and Art Gallery. Here they had Ralph Hotere Figurative Works: Carnival, Song Cycle and the Woman Series I’d only seen these works before in the book Desire of the Line . These drawings are worth seeing as it gives a whole different aspect to Hotere’s work. One similar drawing was in the show at the Hocken.

And lastly on Sunday during a snowy drive back to Dunedin we took refuge at the Eastern Southland Gallery in Gore. This small gallery always has stunning things on and we managed to see exhibitions by Andrew Ross and Don Binney as well as works from their substantial Hotere collection. I think if I had to pick, this was my favourite Hotere show of the three, but probably because it featured one of my favourite Hotere paintings, which I can’t find an image of, but it was a black RAIN banner (inspired by Hone Tuwhare’s great poem).

Hocken Gallery exhibition assistant Jay Hutchinson hangs the 1997 Hotere work Red/Black ready
Photo by Gerard O’Brien.

NOTE: I just heard that Hotere’s Black Phoenix will be on show at Wellington’s City Gallery soon as part of the Oceania show. SEE IT – I consider it one of NZ’s best artworks.

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