Posts Tagged ‘City Gallery’

Funny things about the internet (1) LOL cats don’t make me laugh anymore.

My (not so) new job keeps me busy and nights shifts put me in a very weird zone.  However I do get to travel and recently (well ok in March) I managed to fit in a 20 minute run around the City Gallery in Wellington after a day seminar. I got to see this which included some things I’ve seen before (eg Eddie Clemens’ nets) but the context of a new location is always amazing. I think I last saw “Ritual” at Te Papa. Of course it didn’t happen but I like to think of it trundling down the streets between Te Papa and City Gallery in the dead of night.

Funny thing about the internet (2) Since seeing this I have been collecting pictures of Fabiola.

I like Martin Thompsons work and managed to get to an exhibition here of 5 old/5 new works. I also managed to find a new A3 coloured (NOT black) file folder for Martin. I consider this my art triumph of the year.

Martin Thompson opening bubbly at Brett McDowall’s (poor quality phone camera photo)

Funny/interesting thing about the internet (3) Anything on outpost written by Ron Brownson deserves your attention.

Exciting things are happening and due to some very good fortunate I will be back in Wellington for 3 days in August to present at a conference. My dance card is filling fast but I plan to do some more running around the galleries.

An empty dance card

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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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A series of coincidences led me to being emailed an fantastic photograph this week from artist Bruce Mahalski. This photo was a finalist in a competition that Te Papa had a few years back to promote a show of Magnum photographers. It looks great when blown up.

The Happy Couple– Bruce Mahalski

Apart from the sheep masks (made of fibreglass and cast off a real sheep) it reminds me a Marti Friedlander photo. Bruce – I want to see MORE!

So of course this sent me off on a tangent about NZ having been fairly much an agrarian society and how this has been reflected in our art. Photographically there is a lot about. Peter Peryer’s dead cattle beast, possum in traps (which personally I think would look GREAT on a calendar) among a wide range of rural subjects. Marti Friedlanders gothic sheep, and more from say Robin Morrison perhaps.

As for ‘other’ art, I remember somewhere some really creepy cow paintings but I am mortified that I can’t remember the artist as I am fairly certain it was a “name” (help me out anyone?) and there were the pastoral landscapes as per usual in of the Kelliher competition type. Doris Lusk’s Tobacco Fields, Toss Woollaston rural scenes.

I feel now that art is more urban oriented, because I guess, people are. I dont’ have much knowledge of contemporary art in the ‘now’ sense but you probably don’t see too many ‘installations’ involving drench and cattle yards. I would have thought a milking shed would be ‘fertile ground’ (haha) for artistic inspiration of the assemblage type. Braying donkey’s aside – can anyone point me to something in this line?

In Other News: The City Gallery is on YouTube

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As mentioned in my last post yesterday I went to the collectors talk of Reboot at the City Gallery. In hindsight I should have allowed myself more time and scoped out the exhibition first nonetheless it was a pretty great afternoon.

To ‘reboot’ a computer system is to hit the on-switch and set its programme going again. Bringing together 100 works by 40 artists, Reboot showcases art that wants us to look twice and think again.

I find contemporary and more conceptual art challenging and this blog reflects some of that in my constant questioning of ‘what is art?”. I am also on an art journey as I am learning so much as I explore these questions. It was wonderful to hear some of my personal questions and issues voiced and discussed. For example impermanence, outsourcing and ideas behind collections and owning art. So “look twice and think again” – yes.

Jim Barr is a great story-teller and his explanation of conceptual art, illustrated (literally) with Martin Creed’s Work 132: A lamp going on and off (2003) certainly lit a bulb above my head. I always thought I was missing something, but its so simple, you really do buy an idea. I love this, really – and after that it mostly fell into place for me. I think the object groupings by curator Justin Paton were somewhat lost on me because I was a bit overwhelmed once the ideas started to hit me and wandered around a little ‘spaced’ but predictably I liked the homages (or not) to McCahon.

My personal taste is in a slightly different arena I guess, but there were small moments of wonder to be found here and I doubt I will approach contemporary art the same way again. There is so much to say but a highlight was the owner touching and ‘interacting’ (ok – rearranging) the works – something I always want to do and almost got kicked out of the Henry Moore exhibition at Te Papa for doing (for %^&$# sake – it was a few tonnes of bronze!!). It was interesting to see the small Ronnie van Hout work of Colin McCahon “action figure” because I saw this in an exhibition at Pataka – “Its a Small world” about 5 years ago. Also fascinated by comments about works standing up to the rigours of handling. I am a fan of imperfection and this made me wonder how long I could really live with something as ‘clean’ as a Walters? Often the art I like would fall into the “conservation nightmare” grouping.

And of course a surreal moment, like the start of a bad joke “A housewife, a librarian and an art collector walk into a gallery…” (liberties taken with job descriptions).

I wonder how it would have been to see this show without the talk first? I think I need to go back and look some more but the chance is slim. I also need to budget to get a copy of the catalogue ($20) and research the original Good Work exhibition (contrast and compare).

Interestingly just going back to Wellington was challenging. I think I finally have to admit that I am not a 20-something, urban-dwelling, corporate IT geek anymore – far from it.  And I think there is such a thing as TOO MUCH public art.

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So an article was sent to me yesterday about the death of Angus Fairhurst. I wasn’t sure whether to write about it, as this is art and my life and he wasn’t really on my radar – the gorilla guy right? Well I read some more and I wonder why his work, while highly regarded, he had not reached the level of fame and fortune that other ‘Young British Artists’ achieved? Maybe over-shadowed by the extravagance of Hirst for example – an ‘art rock star’? I liked this photo I found by Maia Norman, from the  In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida exhibition at the Tate in 2004 (what a great name for a show!).

Angus Fairhurst Gorilla sculpture situated on Damien Hirst’s farm in Devon

Which also got me wondering about Hirst’s farm – well there are cows which is something. So does the Gibbs farm have livestock? Do the artworks ‘scare the horses’?

Fairhurst is described as intense, self-deprecating, perceptive but also witty and engaging. From a brief scan his work seems ‘weightier’ than his contemporaries. Really I don’t know…these things are tragic …whatever the reason.

So, are people like Hirst and Koons the rock/movie stars of the art world? Well maybe some clues about this elevation of status in the art world can be found in Guest of Cindy Sherman screening around the country just now. Sounds worth seeing (although Wellingtonians have missed out, as it is showing as I am writing this). There have been suggestions of a similar project in NZ to that of Paul H-O. It would be short – but funny. Although I have only dipped my toe into shallow puddle that is the art scene here, I’ve already heard some recent stories of excess.

Of course my mind wanders incessantly (you get that as you are scrubbing s*%t off nappies) and if artists are rock stars, what about rock star artists? For your amusement I found this review of celebrity artists which gives a grade – funny in itself. Personally I might have given Bowie more than a B+ (didn’t he go to art school by the way?) but I was impressed by Marilyn Manson’s abilities with water colours (I’m not kidding). And it might have been nice to see more works other than paintings. David Byrne’s being the exception of course – and who I believe is Cindy Sherman’s current partner.

Tio Guillermo, (1998)

Music and art are often intertwined I guess.  I just watched the Clairmont “Profiles” video again yesterday and there were the images of a (painted) speaker pumping away and records playing, Hendrix etc. And at the recent Hammond exhibition wasn’t there a ‘soundtrack’ you could listen to while viewing the paintings? So what is the ‘soundtrack’ to contemporary art?

And a chocie fish to whoever can work out what the title of this entry has to do with the content – apart from the obvious.

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How to look at a…?

Since reading Justin Paton’s excellent book ‘How to look at a painting’  I have been thinking of doing a sweep of the Wellington galleries as he did in Auckland. Geographically this is not quite so easy though and I am having a little trouble compiling a current list of galleries. With my uneducated eye, I also think an guide may be in order to appreciate it fully anyway. Perhaps a companion volume is in order “How to encounter an installation” or something?

I am thinking of going on down to the City Gallery tomorrow morning to see “Reboot: The Jim Barr and Mary Barr Collection” and maybe go over to the Theo Schoon thing at Te Papa. I do wonder if Reboot would be better if I had seen ‘Good Work’  in 2001 though. I know I have to see more art and more art that’s outside my comfort zone so I will go – just not sure if tomorrow will be the day.

This possible job has got me thinking about public art and local government involvement. I looked up the Wellington City Councils art policies as they have come in for a fair amount of criticism about their artworks. I found this interesting.

Artistic merit and quality: art works will and should be the subject of debate as to their artistic merits. Regard will be given to: public response and interaction; accessibility to the public; the degree to which it reflects Wellington’s heritage and/or contemporary culture; merits of the work; whether the work is enduring enough to justify the costs associated with its adoption.

Of course there is a committee to decide all this stuff. The Public Art Panel is comprised of (according to the website) Mark Amery, Alison Bartley, Tina Barton, Heather Galbraith, Rob Garrett and Karen Wallace. You know I am sort of with Hamish Keith on his hatred of committees (as espoused in “The Big Picture”). Last time I worked in the corporate world I refused to have more than one committee-type meeting a week as I felt they were a BIG waste of time. I feel the outcomes of these types of panels are also often watered down and meek. I have no idea if the above panel is like this – any comments? There is a nice gallery of Wellington public art. I quite like some of it.

Anchor Stone – Ra Vincent

Speaking of public art, I am intrigued by this exhibition ‘What We Walk By’ images of Wellington’s Inner City Street Art by Dra McKay.

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