Posts Tagged ‘Rock art’

Urban Petroglyphs

I came across this today. Given my love of rock art, I found it rather wonderful.

(Picture courtesy of the artist)

See Kevin Sudeith’s website here

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  • There is a Seraphine Pick show opening at the Dunedin Public Art Gallery* next week. I had a flyer for it on my desk [ahem – kitchen table] and my nearly 3-year-old wanted to know “what is the horse for?”

Séraphine Pick Girl (with offered eyes) 2004
Private Collection, Auckland

  • Its been REALLY wet here. Thankfully the stop bank I live quite close to, did its job. Not so lucky for some of the Maori Rock Art at Duntroon
  • I find the BP oil spill in the USA horrifying. I suppose at least some good street art stems from it.
  • Once, quite some time ago, I  briefly took up smoking because the place where I worked let smokers have more frequent breaks than us non-smokers. I wish I’d had these instead.

* Please guys, can fix up your website so I can link directly to exhibitions….?

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Rock on

On my journey South I actually did get to visit another rock art site. I was keen to see the Frenchman’s Gully Birdmen. I have to report they were startlingly similar to the Sanitarium glasses. The site is easy to find and has good access so I am pleased they remain in good repair (apart from the chalk and crayon). I thinkthese figures were enhanced/ruined by the Olliver party rather than Schoon. You can see from my photo below, there have been more recent additions as well.


At a guess I’d say there are a lot more drawings around this area but time and small children prevented me from exploring further.

Today I also added to my collection of rock art memorabilia* (see below). Say what you like about the general tackiness but I think its a step up from chipping the drawings off and having them in a museum. Actually if a drawing was in imminent danger of  being destroyed by the elements maybe that would be an acceptable course of action?


*No I don’t intend to wear it

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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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For your viewing pleasure

Still sick but recovering slowly. I actually think our family is involved in some nasty CIA covert experiment on what happens when you wind up people’s stress levels and increasingly deprive them of sleep at the same time over a period of years. Its not pretty.

This however is pretty

Buttony – Northumberland

“Despite its rich prehistoric landscape, Britain’s rock art, inscribed in stone at locations around the country, is nowhere near as famous as that in continental Europe. But all that might be about to change, as English Heritage launches a new website designed to catalogue and highlight these ancient carvings, some of them 6000 years old. These stunning images offer a taste of what’s on offer.”

Ketley Crag rock Shelter

I love the lighting in that photography although maybe it is clichéd.

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Art in Reverse

I’ve been slack on the blogging front. Basically I’ve been tired and things sometimes catch up on you when you have three little kids. Today for instance our baby has croup.

I have also had a bit of a revelation. I visited some friends last week who are living off the grid and off the land. I won’t go into detail out of respect for their privacy but it is sure a lesson in perspective to spend some time with them and I am in awe. Then I watched the documentary “What Would Jesus Buy?” which was amusing and really depressing all at once. So I was thinking “what I am doing be interested in this art game? At its worst its just another aspect of consumerism.” But I saw some things when visiting my simple living friends (who aren’t “arty” people) that brought me back to some ‘art truths’ .

Even though they are focussed on the absolute necessities of life i.e. food, shelter, water, warmth they had decorated their environs with illustrations, small carvings and other meaningful items. It made me think of that urge to record by way of art and to simply decorate. There is that debate about rock drawings as to which of these purposes they served – and I think quite probably both.

So Its interesting that art has significance even when we are ‘back to basics’.

Something else I learnt about this week was Reverse Grafitti. A good example here at Wooster Collective. Reverse Graffiti can be created by using many different methods, the most well known and probably the most common form would be words or simple drawing written into the dirt of cars that have not been kept clean. A more advanced and difficult method is done by cleaning the graffiti onto dirt in the street, this dirt is difficult to clean off and the graffiti is often created by scrubbing [or waterblasting] aided with the help of a detergent . There have been several instances of authorities attempting to prosecute those performing reverse graffiti. No authority has found legal ground to prosecute those who perform reverse graffiti.”  I think the Mt Victoria tunnel in Wellington would lend itself to this (some great examples have been done in tunnels) and it would be interesting to test the ‘legal’ status here in NZ.

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I just want to say that I am heartily sick of the term “iconic”. It seems sometimes that every little bit of pop culture, kitsch or kiwiana is some sort of cultural icon. Are we that desperate for identity? It leads to the country being littered with gigantic fish, fruit and vege, L&P bottles (actually I don’t mind that one), gumboots and stuff like this.


I guess it taps into nostalgia, our childhoods, a simpler time, and makes us smile but after a while it just gets on my nerves. ‘Iconic’ begins to make as much sense as that song by Alanis Morrisette which is only any good when interpreted by Ed Byrne. It becomes about as appealing as a paua shell ashtray set in black resin and makes me wonder what was so threatening about giant rabbits in Cathedral Square? That said, I am the owner of a disconcerting amount of kitsch items.

Now I’m done with that rant, I made a great find at the library book sale today. ARD Fairburn biography “Walking on my Feet” – 25cents (!!!) One wonders why they were getting rid of it. It had quite a section about his fabric prints of Maori rock art designs (after T Schoon). I was ‘debating’ over at Ashbash today about the symbolism of Schoon and Walters and cultural theft etc (I really need to just lurk there and keep my mouth shut) and I wish I’d mentioned Fairburn’s money making off the back of these images – even though he did badly because he gave so much away. I have seen a framed panel in the current “Art of the Nation” exhibit at Te Papa and I understand they hold more of Fairburn’s fabrics. I wonder if they are a conservation nightmare considering how he ‘aged’ them by letting the fabric go mouldy under his house?

My library really has been getting better and better and it made the past year when I didn’t have access to a University library (which is SO NICE to have back) bearable. They have bought the last few books I have suggested including “The $12 Million Stuffed Shark“, the author of which, Don Thompson, will be on the Kim Hill programme this weekend. OK so they had the artist of a Nigel Brown limited edition print that hangs in the library down as Gordon Brown but they were happy to correct that. And I’m saying all this without the prospect of being employed there either :-) The building even has award winning architecture by Warren and Mahoney. Apparently it is a “carefully layered and elegantly composed building that engages the human spirit” which is a bit of a stretch but I do like the modernist influence.


On the subject of books, the New Zealand Post Writers and Readers week starts tomorrow. I doubt I will get to anything but will attempt to see “The Camera is a Small Room“. If you are looking for icons, “Art & Text” might do the trick as McCahon’s I AM could truly be considered iconic.

As a footnote, isn’t it weird when you come across something that could have been written from your own life. This has happened a few times recently which maybe is just a reflection of New Zealand literature and the commonality of experience of NZ life with the country being so small and all. But “Chemical evolution: Drugs and Art Production 1970-1980” by Martin Edmond was scarily close to home – so many familiar people and places. Also just as a social history document it was prescient with all the talk of “Muldoonism” in the current election scare mongering and also recent cases bringing up historic police corruption. All I can say is that I don’t think ANYONE wants to go back to those times politically. Anyone remember the Knobz and the song Culture? Which brings me to “Tea Towel of the week” – a la Richard Till.


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