Posts Tagged ‘Campbell’

Here’s looking at you

The focal point of my Big Day Out yesterday was my first visit to the “new” Dunedin Public Art Gallery. I was not expecting too much to be honest as the exhibition list wasn’t spectacular and I’d seen 3(ish) of the shows before – Rita Angus at Te Papa, Joyce Campbell at the New Dowse and Hodgkins* (albeit not the same ones) at Mahara. However it presented an opportunity to see how different they might look in different locations.

The Rita Angus exhibition was a focus and has been promoted extensively here and as William McAloon pointed out they’ve been running a “nice” events programme in association with it. The works on show are a subset of the Te Papa exhibition and I thought that made it much sharper in general. I also preferred the layout in constrast to Te Papa, although maybe it was a little too loose and as it wasn’t divided into the same ‘rooms’ the labels didn’t make sense in some cases. Major disappointment for me was that the Sun Goddess was AWOL and the other two goddesses were in the same room but facing each other. As I was saying (and probably being all pretentious) to the friend I was with, I’d wanted to revisist the maiden, mother, crone aspects for the three – yay for the internet!


Interestingly on the same floor as Rita was the Peter Stichbury exhibition -weird and disturbing. I don’t really know what to make of it but it was certainly a contrast the the Angus portraits (although some similarity in the eyes). David Eggleton has written a review in a recent Listener thats worth checking out.

Initially I thought Joyce Campbell’s Ice Falls were really badly displayed but various vantage points around the gallery gave a better view – one being across the atrium through a triangluar window at the end of the Angus exhibition. Still I think the way they were hung on columns at the New Dowse worked better. They are awesome photos and I don’t think you got the towering, overbearing nature quite the same way.

Over all I liked the place and thought some aspects cleverly handled eg Victorian colours on the walls of the ‘works from the collection’ rooms. I feel there are going to be great things to see here and with the new Director it will be interesting to see what transpires.

I also had a really great lunch at Nova next to the gallery including celebratory bubbles.

* I don’t mean to be dismissive of Hodgkins but to me many of her works can be generic in a way they they kind of all run together.

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In my recent ponderings on iconic figures and separating artists from their art (or not), I remembered a comment I’d made about auctioning off investment artists’ shopping lists. After researching a little further I found this:

“…speaking of genius is always talk about artistic hierarchies, about the experts who wield the magic wand that makes something art, placing an art work within a context of previous and subsequent events, and creating authors and oeuvres in the process – the experts create the author and define the art work, separating Picasso’s art from Picasso’s shopping list…As Foucault has discussed, the author (of which the genius is a specific type) is a functional element in the discourse, not a natural category or a real person. It helps us to group the incoherent fragments of the past into understandable segments, and to rearrange the life of an individual into a narrative that can have meaning for our lives.” Hanna Järvinen

As I am now in possession of a metaphoric shopping list, I think another layer could be added. That is – the “non-expert” brings their own value system in making artistic judgements and of course “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure”.

Eve Armstrong – Arrangement: Cush 2007

Speaking of Foucault and icons, makes me wonder if anyone has run the Foucauldian lens over McCahon – I mean they must have. If so, please forward any references in the comments. I mean:

The collaboration of word and image engenders what Foucault calls a “calligram” ,a composite text-image that “brings a text and a shape as close together as possible” . The calligram is a figure of knowledge as power, aiming at a utopia of representation in which “things” are trapped in a “double cipher”, an alliance. Word and image are like two hunters, “pursuing its quarry by two paths…By its double function, it guarantees capture, as neither discourse alone nor a pure drawing could do
From Picture Theory By W. J. Thomas Mitchell

And just because thats all very heavy – something funny and serious all in one. Happiness is a warm gun.

Anna Campbell Warm Gun Series

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I had a little spare time today so I stopped by The Dowse in the Hutt Valley to see ‘Sinfonia Antartica’. I haven’t been to the “New Dowse” (since the upgrade) and I am sorry to say I’m not overly impressed. Firstly I hate the pink and really what’s with the entrance way – that isn’t? You have to check out what Over the Net had to say about it starting with “someone once said that the sign of a great building was a lack of signs”  Well the Dowse is not only over-run with signs but I still had to ask someone where Sinfonia Antartcia was AND I had a floor plan as well. Maybe I have limited spacial abilities or was still trying to get my bearings relative to how the gallery USED to be. Oh and the Dowse is NOT the really the place for the gallerina attitude ok (or whatever the male version is).

The Old Dowse

The New Dowse (ok it IS more stylish)

Enough grumbling – after I found it, I was very impressed with the exhibition. “Sprinkled with snippets of poetry, hung with gargantuan prints of ice caps and filled with an atmospheric soundtrack, Sinfonia Antarctica, showcases this great white continent as seen through the eyes of painters Dick Frizzell, Nigel Brown and Grahame Sydney, ceramist Raewyn Atkinson, writers Bill Manhire and Chris Orsman, jeweller Kirsten Haydon, textile artist Clare Plug and photographers Anne Noble, Andris Apse and Joyce Campbell”

I have to say firstly that I am a bit of a Nigel Brown ‘fan’ so I enjoyed his paintings, special because he tried to actually paint ‘on the ice’ and has stories to tell about that! I was particularly impressed with a textile work by Clare Plug, a medium that you might not think lends itself to the subject but it was great. Apse’s photograhs were quite amazing and caught an unexpected granduer but Joyce Campbell’s long prints of the Barne Glacier were quite amazing. The photos of white ice on the white gallery really worked better than you’d think and they were so cleverly hung. “Her intention in full scale exhibition display is to induce a sense of human insignificance”.  It was not over-curated either but to the point when I asked for accompanying literature – there wasn’t any (‘well not that we can just hand out”). When I got home I had a good look on the web and found that this exhibition is part of the NZSO ‘Exploring Antartica’ programme and there are a whole lot of related events, artists talks etc and further information at that site, including the Artists to Antarctica scheme

At the Dowse they were selling the book I am reading “The Wide White Page” in association with the exhibition, but here’s a tip – I got mine for $5 at a remainder sale at Whitcoulls.

However the highlight of the trip was “Assume Nothing‘portrait photographs by Rebecca Swan, and award-winning documentary footage by Kirsty McDonald, reveals both the extraordinary, and often very ordinary worlds of New Zealand’s transgender community.‘ I was stunned by the photos – not because of the content (in fact I know more than one of the subjects personally) but because of the essence Swan has managed to capture on film.

Merge – Rebecca Swan

I wish I’d had more time to look about. Definitely worth going to see and there are a lot of events on related to both these exhibitions.

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