Posts Tagged ‘Schoon’

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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One of the things I was looking into when I started writing this blog was artists houses and the little artistic cluster at Waikanae which is virtually on my doorstep. Walters, Schoon, Hodgkins, Angus, Page, Clairmont and now I discover Richmond all made significant work there.

Any way a while back I write that I’d located the Angus home and had taken this photo. I must now admit to a “mollie moment”. From Martin Edmond’s Luca Antara blogI got as far as page 8 before the first shock of embarrassment and shame. It was this passagealmost every ‘fact’ in the last two of those four sentences is wrong.”  Since writing the book he refers to, the full story of Mollie, the elephant that died at Ohakune had come to light. 

Yesterday I spent some time with the local council historian, Ron Prockter* who furnished me with lots of information regarding the Angus home. The great news is, that although subdivided, the gardens are largely intact and it appears the home may be too , although greatly altered. The embarrassing news was the address I had previously was completely wrong and so the photo referred to above, although vaguely interesting, has no artistic association at all. 

Rita Angus (c1942) by Theo Schoon (photo from Art New Zealand Issue 107)

Angus had the use of a beach house at Waikanae owned by her father who moved there in 1943. Schoon appears to have visited her there at least once with Gordon Walters who was his protege.” Michael Dunn – Art NZ Issue 107

Why am I so interested in this anyway? Well I like Angus’s garden paintings, as to me they have a different ‘feel’ about them. And although the Angus cottage is saved for posterity in Thorndon, I was intrigued by this little local mystery. Mr Prockter also told me that this land has a long and interesting history being a large part of the ‘Rau o te Rangi’ block named after a maori woman Te Rauoterangi, the daughter of a Ngati Toa chief. Te Rauoterangi also was known as Kahe, the name she used to sign the Treaty of Waitangi.

Now that we are definitely off South in a few months, its nice to have this story complete and I am continuing my hunt for the Page home (designed by Plischke).

*Over the Net and their “On the Road” series may be interested to know that Mr Prockter is in charge of street name approval here and there is a Hodgkins Road and Goldie Place at Waikanae.

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Such a perfect day

Well – nearly perfect. Lets say that when you live in the desert a visit to the Oasis means you need to fill up to get you to the next Oasis. Feast or famine etc etc and today was a feast

Managed to get to the Reboot exhibition for the collectors talk (report to follow tomorrow). A revelation really and definitely some “ah ha” moments for me. Oddly no one asked questions. I had about a million questions but where do you start in that setting? I did discover an artwork that sums me up completely (just now) Happy for it to be my epitaph even. Ronnie van Hout’s “Sorry I am out of Order”. I think I HAVE to get this T-shirt.

And yes I did bump into some people – rather unexpectedly. And in answer to “whats with the calling cards?”. Well they were free (if you are happy to put up with some spam) and shoving them at people by way of introduction is a great help to socially inept people like me.

Managed to rush over to the Theo Schoon “archival exhibit” at Te Papa as well. I was very disappointed and wish I’d gone to the Helen Hitchings thing instead. I wanted to see some of his rock art work and they just had the gourds, jade, ceramics and Thai stuff on display. I mean I did like what I saw (some amazing photographs) just not what I was wanting to see. Also a pity they didn’t have some of his decorated gourds – just the photos.

And home to a cooked meal – an absolute rarity for me not to have to do the cooking.

Also last night watched “Love Is the Devil: Study for a Portrait of Francis Bacon“. It didn’t get such great reviews but I thought it was good. Very clever how some scenes were staged like Bacon’s paintings – although some see this as a weakness.

Off to listen to Lou now.

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Ok – just what is it with artists and Waikanae? The list just keeps growing. I have been reading “Towards Aotearoa” tonight by David Eggleton and came across reference to Gordon Walters “Waikanae” and so went and found this in the Te Papa Collection.

This black and white photograph by Gordon Walters was made in the early 1940s at Waikanae. Walters was living and working in Wellington and had met Theo Schoon…The photograph was one of a series taken by Walters and Schoon on field trips to Waikanae in 1943 and 1944. The title, with its reference to ‘organic form’ and tonal values (‘black on grey’) reveals how nature could be transformed through the camera lens into almost abstract patterns”

Another example of this period by Walters is held by the Auckland Art Gallery

I guess I could add Walters and Schoon to my imaginary Waikanae exhibition then.

Eggleton’s book is an interesting look at 20th Century NZ art and I found it a refreshing change of view from Keith’s “The Big Picture”. some comparison can be found here by the way. Art News New Zealand said that “Eggleton’s ambitious jig-saw has too many missing pieces“, but I think thats just the nature of a work like this. In some places the writing is a little florid for my tastes but maybe thats the poet in author showing. Lets just say its a book I’d like to own whatever its faults.

It did remind me of a well NZ known “look-a-likie”. Part I:-

Bridesmaids (1930) Frances Hodgkins

and I would bring you Part II which is Rita Angus’ portrait of Fay and Jane Birkenshaw. BUT for some reason on searching the Te Papa website (where it is held) there is no record of it. I can understand not having the image up because bad people like me may come and copy it (smack hand) but I couldn’t find any record of it at all. A Chocolate Fish to whoever can find a reference to this painting on the Te Papa website (because I AM a bit tired right now).

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Historical Tagging

There is still a lot in the news about tagging and graffiti and street art including the idiot who tagged a glacier. Because there have been quite a few references to cave drawings in the debate, I checked out two books “Prehistoric Rock Art of New Zealand” by M Trotter and B McCulloch (1971) and “Maori Rock Art: An ink that will stand forever” by Paul Thompson (1989). The Thompson one has excellent photographs and I just wish I’d had either on hand in my forays to look at the South Island sites. Last time we were down that way we went to Opihi site near Pleasant Point. That’s where the well known Taniwha images are but I recall being a bit disappointed. I guess it just wasn’t like the clear graphic images I’d seen.

stamp.jpg 1967 20c stamp

Thompson in the Maori Rock Art book had this section which I find very relevant:

“And we might like to ignore those whom we call vandals, who, ever since the drawings were discovered by Europeans. have scratched their own initials around and over the ancient forms, Whether the product of adolescent sexuality, as AP/PD, or the equally primeval drive to assert one’s existence, as in P.D.T 1951, these latter-day scribblings as yet have no sociological or political important, but if the results of spraycan graffiti – RASTA 4 EVAand the like – lasts over several decades, then some earnest young academic might be found analysing them and writing on the spread of a racial consciousness, albeit imported, among the young and the poor. When the original Vandals swept out of the north and sacked it was naturally enough a disaster for what was regarded as the civilised world, but after one thousand or so years, poets and artists delighted in the picturesque qualities of the ruins and thought drolly on the brevity of human achievement. Time softens the effects of disfigurement and destruction, and may even add an extra layer of meaning.Just as tourists now seek out Lord Byron’s weathered signature carved into the stone blocks Poseidon’s Temple at Cape Sounion overlooking the Aegean Sea or, closer home, yet apocryphally, Rutherford’s on his old desk at Canterbury University, these contemporary scrawlings will have an interest for the future. Not because the perpetrators are likely to become famous poets or scholars but because their idly scratched initials will provide a basis for speculation: who was here on a summer’s afternoon eighty years ago? The compulsion for recent visitors to leave their marks may even actually reflect, in part the intention of the original artists: I think, therefore I am, therefore I sign. But in the meantime, let us ignore these hopeful and defiant additions of the twentieth century, and stand, with our backs to the wall, to look out to the time when the rocks stood bare.”

There is quite a bit about Theo Schoon’s work too and his obsession with this art (and his habit of “touching them up!). However it did bring attention to preservation of these artworks and and had the (unfortunate?) side effect of popularising them. Items such as scarves and ashtrays printed with rock art images appeared in souvenir shops and the like.

So to my pic of the day. Lord Byron aside I think this is a great example of historical tagging and a particularly NZ one.


BTW: If anyone has any experience with art cataloguing software can they leave a comment please?.

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So what are your qualifications…?

Some things have conspired recently to make me look at qualifications. A few people have  asked how I am qualified to write this blog. Well actually I am not in the sense of any formal art qualifications but any idiot can put a blog up right? And I do have post grad qualifications in other areas. There is no test you have to pass or licence you have to take out to have a web space. As a friend said, this is about art and MY life which I am uniquely qualified to write about. I am after all Jane Public – the person who likes arts and letters and has a little knowledge (definitely a dangerous thing) and walks into your gallery, watches your film, reads your book, sees your public artwork. I am not part of the art world or literary world. I am a viewer, a consumer, an end-user.

That said I am considering applying for a job that would take me into that world in an employment sense. I know I could easily do the work and a large chunk of it is admin. However my CV doesn’t have any arts, literary or museum quals on it. I doubt I’d even get short listed but I am going to apply for the process anyway. I wonder if I should wear the Hammond shirt to the interview if I got one (ha)? I think I like being mostly an outsider actually :-)

On a lighter note, I wanted to run a competition for a picture of the worst NZ public art work but that seems a little negative and I’m not sure how the prize (cupcakes) would travel via NZPost. So I’ll just post a picture for the day.

Jacqueline Fahey – The Birthday Party (1974)

Oh yes – I am anxious to see the Theo Schoon exhibition on at Te Papa too

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