On Saturday I had the opportunity to visit Te Manawa Art Gallery and Museum in Palmerston North. Our visit got off to a bad start as my ‘rambuncious’ children forgot all their art gallery manners and had to be bundled off to the ‘Kids Own’ children’s area of the museum (thank you to my dear partner). I have to say the MIND exhibition part of the place is excellent and everyone had a lot of fun there – the Sounds Amazing segment was a big hit.
Anyway I got some time to have a good look around. Last time I was there (2002?) it was to see Tibetan Monks create (and destroy) a sand mandala but otherwise it must have been “between” exhibitions that were of interest to me. Sand mandalas are a great lesson in the concepts of temporary art.
This time there was a lot on. Hightlights were:
Karl Maughan: A Clear Day
It was interesting to see so many of Maughans works together. I thought it would be over-powering but the gallery is of a size for them to work. There is plenty of room to stand back and admire the photo-realism, but that disappears into abstraction as you get close. It was good to get an insight into how he works and see some smaller pieces as well. We felt though that the works weren’t lit that well. It was like the spotlights were too small for the scale of the pictures. However maybe it was meant to be that way. There was one picture printed out and made into a large jig-saw on the floor and it was a bit disconcerting seeing small children dance around on it. Closes at the end of March.
I don’t think I fully appreciated this. I’d like to say things like ‘derivative’ and ‘a cross between Hammond and Killeen’ but what would I know?
“In exploring her own own interest in the evolution of exploration and navigation, Heather Partel too has become a mapmaker and her prints describe a world of her own invention. ” I quite liked these prints, World II and II were highlights. Again the process was part of the exhibition with printing equipment and plates on show
Image: Heather Partel. Histories VIII, 2003, screenprint.
Now this is a great concept. They invited 9 local people to be guest curators and peruse the collection stores of Te Manawa to ‘select’ objects that spoke to them. There was a big range of art and objects. I was particularly excited to see Hotere’s 1981 “Land of the wrong white crowd” which is a crate of beer with stencilled lettering and wound with rags – a protest piece from the Springbok Tour. I also liked Saffron Te Ratana’s paintings of Maori ‘cupie’ dolls done in the style of Goldie (Ropata and Tu). I was thinking afterwards what my three art picks would be if I could choose from everything I’ve seen in NZ galleries (which isn’t much). There would be a Clairmont, maybe ‘AMs Chair’ because that’s the first one I ever saw and I really like the McCahon kitchen bench that was Maurice Shadbolt’s. Its too hard to pick just one other but I’d like to hear your choices…
Other items of interest
I also noticed a small selection of black and white photos tucked away under some stairs which included some great Murray Cammick ones from the 1970s.
The excellent video library and viewing corner with all sorts from the NZ Film Archives including the Profiles documentaries of Fomison and Clairmont (if only I’d had more time)
The HUGE mural of Maui in the atrium by Dick Frizzell and ‘Karen H’ (I think I’ll email for more details on that one)
They have a photography exhibition ‘Landed’ coming up, which looks good.
The staff were helpful and very friendly as well which is always a plus and they have a easily accessible reference library. Such a pity I just missed an exhibition of some of the permanent collection as there is a strong represetation of 1970s NZ art (a favourite era of mine). Beware the slippery courtyard between the two buildings if it rains though :-)
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