Posts Tagged ‘Hammond’


We tomorrow the packers/movers come so service here may intermittent for the next while. I have finished organising (I think) and now my evil plans need to fall into place.

One thing we will be doing on our journey South is further exploration of Southern Rock Art sites. Every trip to the South we try and take in one site and this time we’ve picked Frenchman’s Gully because of ease of access (I hope). I had wanted to see Weka Pass but its a bit of a trek with the kids. Any how I am hoping to see the bird men in person rather than on my old Sanitarium glasses.


Looking at that I wonder if there is any peanut butter jar influence on Bill Hammond.

So I’ve got out my reference books and the McDougall Art Gallery publication on the Theo Schoon Interpretations. If any one has other suggestions of easily accessible sites not far from State Highway One – please comment.

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Two in the bush

Today in a fit of nostalgia I have been thinking about Blue Ducks (or Whio) and a small part of my life spent following them (and their trackers) around mountain rivers.

Birds seem to feature largely in NZ art, or is that just me…? Of course Dr Buller was one of the first documentors and I grew up with his book of birds, although J. G. Keulemans was the illustrator. There was even a play “Dr Buller’s Birds“. Its a pity Buller collected skins but I guess it means we do have “examples” of extinct species.

Blue Duck and Scaup from Birds of New Zealand, 1888. (Buller)

More contemporaily, I can think of Raymond Ching, Don Binney and Bill Hammond who have used birds rather centrally to their work. What does it all mean?

Whio and the Dance of Extinction –Ray Ching

I found this well reported ‘fact’ about Hammond “As a result of this trip to The Auckland Islands and his interest in macabre aspects of the taxidermist’s trade as evidenced in the book “Buller’s Birds of New Zealand”, Hammond began producing his haunting world of half-human, half-bird creatures. And it is this original parallel world that has captured the imagination of so many New Zealanders’

However more interesting is a discussion of the significance of the birds here with reference to Binney and Buller.

“With his bird paintings Hammond has stepped into the spotlight in New Zealand art, tapping into the national psyche’s obsession with native birds…colonial history, and Kiwiana. Buller was not the only precedent. The regional modernist Don Binney achieved prominence and popularity in the 60’s and 70’s depicting birds soaring over landscapes, symbolising triumphal national identity as much as individual spiritual transcendence. The kiwi itself, a flightless, nocturnal, clumsy, unattractive, and increasingly-endangered bird, is a decidedly-peculiar choice of national icon, and Hammond’s stiff, upright, Egyptian-looking humanoid birds, always in profile, theoretically capable of flight but never flying, allude to that indirectly. ” (my emphasis)

Watching for Buller– Bill Hammond

So are we “kiwis” doomed to be earth-bound, only dreaming of flight?

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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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The Art of the Review

Firstly a second-hand review. Someoneiknow took a few hours off work to go to the Bill Hammond exhibition “Jingle Jangle Morning”at the City Gallery on Wednesday. It must have been good because he has talked about it A LOT and spent 2+ hours there without even realising what the time was. It closes 10 February so I doubt whether I”ll get there (Grrrrrr).

gangland.jpg Gangland

So I can’t give it a review which is probably just as well because I am not the best reviewer. I think I get to personal. I have been reading a few NZ Art websites and blogs (there aren’t actually that many) and I simply wouldn’t use the “right” language when it comes to an art review. It brings to mind the Crash Test Dummies song “When you go out with artists“. It shouldn’t have to be pretentious drivel and plain speak is possible – see Justin Paton’s book but still…I guess I have bad memories of writing reviews for my University newspaper. I used to do Film Society reviews but then someone complained because I wasn’t a film student (I think they just wanted the free tickets). I also wrote restaurant reviews until I got into a fight about a bad review I wrote. Apparently someone had made a deal that by giving “poor students” a free meal the restaurant would get a good review. Well the service and the food were awful and I tactfully wrote that. My review didn’t get printed and I didn’t write anything else for the newspaper again. So if any artists out there want to send me an artwork to keep and review (oh yeah sure that’s going to happen) – I just want to state that it WILL NOT automatically assure you of a rave :-)

Quote of the day – about Rudi Gopas, although who knows if its true…

“Rudi also told another student to mix more turps with the paint so the painting would burn easier.”

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