About two years ago I asked “I wonder if we’d see this happening these days?”
This week “Jeffrey Harris: 5 large Paintings from 1980-81” closed at the Brett McDowell Gallery, Dunedin. I enquired and even though Harris’s studio is quite close to the gallery, Brett assured me there was a truck involved in moving the artworks.
Which was almost disappointing.
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May Day and day one of this month’s “blog post a day ” challenge.
Last night I went to the preview of the Colin McCahon show at the Brett McDowell Gallery in Dunedin. I did a bit of hunting around a few weeks back and it seems this is the first commercial solo McCahon show in town since one at Dawson’s Gallery back in 1971. So it was a bit of a treat to see a poster in watercolour and crayon, that McCahon had made for that show. A stark contrast to today’s slick professionalism in gallery advertising – McCahon hand making his own exhibition posters!
The show of 13 works ranged from two 1938 Mapua watercolours, to a 1974 small and highly coloured rose garden painting that was a Christmas gift/card .The decades in between were also well represented and included 1947 Three Marys at the Tomb, a 1954 Kauri lithograph and North Otago Landscape – a silkscreen print from 1968 (one of the Barry Lett multiples series). A feature piece was View from the top of the cliff, Muriwai (1971).
So it was quite a substantial show. There were also some photographs taken by Gordon Brown – 3 from the series taken and which feature on the cover of Brown’s new book “Towards a Promised Land“. But the ones I liked in particular were interiors of Ethel McCahon’s home, mid-century furniture in place with her son Colin’s work on the walls. It just seemed ‘right’ to see the paintings in a contextual setting.
I had a great time even if I did my usual talking some poor person’s ear off (sorry Patrick) after 2 glasses of bubbly and then having a coughing fit (thanks to my sick kids – again sorry Patrick). I was feeling very smiley just to be around these works.
My take home image* (and somewhat related to my bubbly-induced rant) was this from 15 Drawings for Charles Brasch (1952). I am daring to reproduce it here (and will happily remove it if the trust requests). I think it’s the singlet that gets me.
NOTE: I found it really interesting how many of the works in this exhibition don’t seem to be in the McCahon database
*I didn’t actually take it home :-)
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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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I had a rather surreal experience recently. Last Saturday morning I had the pleasure of sitting in a dealer gallery going through ‘a bunch’* of artworks, happily working out titles and discussing writing for a proposed catalogue for a show. A few people wandered in and almost warily checked out the current show (Martin Thompson) and scuttled off again.
Even a year ago I was too scared to enter a dealer gallery. When I lived in the Wellington region I really wanted to go to Peter McLeavey’s but just couldn’t make myself climb those stairs. Is there such a thing as a phobia of dealer galleries??? I did force myself into Milford Galleries to see a Nigel Brown show because, unfashionable though it may be, I like his work. It was worth it. The scariest part was the desk right by the door manned by “an older gentleman” who have to say was rather frosty looking. I guess he knew I don’t have the money to buy a Brown. The same blog post I noted how I really wanted to go into Brett McDowell’s but scurried past, intimidated by the Hoteres.
I guess my point is that I encourage people just to get into the galleries – public or dealer. Once you are over the threshold, its great. I don’t imagine everyone is as paranoid as I am but to the “outsider” these places can be very intimidating. I guess there are a lot of tyre kickers, but you know, an interest in art today might develop into buying later in life.
I suppose I was being a bit vampiritic, having to be asked in to these places but it has been so worth it. Maybe some galleries are more welcoming to others. I was talking to a ‘dealer’ recently who said apart from selling art he felt he had a responsibility just to promote art in general. I thought that was pretty enlightened :-)
For the sake of an image – I am very fond of this Don Driver that lurks in the backroom of Brett McDowell’s
Babysnatcher – Don Driver
*Is there a collective noun for art? If there is a ‘real’ one please comment and if not I will give out a real life prize to the most inventive one in comments.
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Exhibition opening today at Brett McDowell Gallery and also the launch of this beautiful handcrafted hardcover catalogue by Kilmog Press. Oh – and I wrote the foreward :-)
Catalogue available for purchase at Brett McDowell Gallery or Parsons Bookshop, Auckland. Thanks to Kilmog Press for the images.
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