Posts Tagged ‘Te Papa’

I recently picked up a clearance copy of Hemingway’s “Death in the Afternoon“. I like Hemingway  although I prefer his writing when less blustering and more sentimental. My favourite Hemingway book is “Islands in the Stream“, and I wonder if it was not published during his lifetime because it is such a tender book in places, as well as a great fishing/action/adventure yarn. One day I will visit Bimini although the hotel burnt down in 2006.

The photos in “Death in the Afternoon” are quite special, no matter your position on bull fighting. I feel they illustrate the horror of the sport as well as the glory. I particularly “like” the caption of one photo “Granero dead in the infirmary. Only two in the crowd are thinking about Granero. The others are all intent on how they will look in the photograph.

These photographs were in my mind when I happened to be in Wellington of the opening weekend of Michael Parekowhai’s “On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer” at Te Papa. I managed to have a few hours spare to really spend some time looking around and I also made a point of seeing Fiona Pardington’s Flora,Fauna at {Suite} Gallery which was truly wonderful.

I had read a lot on-line about Parekowhai’s pianos and bulls and was interested in their current incarnation after seeing photos of the Venice Biennale arrangements and the gift to Christchurch of a partially outdoor installation

Michael Parekowhai’s On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer, Christchurch 2012

On Sunday afternoon, as I approached the long gallery at Te Papa I was disconcerted to hear a young voice singing Adele’s “Someone Like You” with piano accompaniment. Oh dear! but the cluster of bulls and pianos at one end of the gallery had such great impact, that I forgot about Adele for a minute.

Parekowhai installation at Te Papa

Another player soon took a seat at the red Steinway (He Korero Purakau mo Te Awanui o Te Motu: Story of a New Zealand river) and launched into a passionate rendition of….well I’m not sure really. I like to think it as Rachmaninov because 25 years ago I worked with a very very kiwi bloke kind  of guy who would sit at any available piano and very play amazing classical music – usually Rachmaninov – and this reminded me of Russell. All the while, a logo’d Te Papa person circled, taking photographs.

My reaction was very similar to that of Best of 3, who wrote about her experience beautifully.

I don’t think I have ever been so moved in a museum. There was something about the way that people’s individual reactions and responses built into a collective experience that just opened my heart. It made me realise just what power artists have, that they can make occasions like this for us. Parekowhai is quoted on the exhibition info panel as saying There is no object I could make … that could fill a room like sound can.”

yes I cried….it was so moving and I felt overcome by thoughts about of my last few years…life the universe and everything. It also reminded me of saying goodbye to McCahon’s Northland Panels at Te Papa when I left the North Island. I cried then too.

There was a small emotional death for me this August afternoon, with a powerful piano soundtrack played on a carved red piano and with 2 large blackened bulls as harbingers of something ominous. Like the photo in Hemingway’s book, I felt that only I am thinking about the future. The others are all intent on how they will look in the photograph.

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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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I Noticed

Is the new logo for Te Papa?

Photo lifted from Dunedin Streets blog

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Nothing’s gonna happen

My life has been pretty lacking of late. The constant stop start of my daily life has led to Twitter being an easier forum with 140 characters being easy to get out in between cries of “mmmmmuuuuuuuuuummmmm”. I have also had a lot of writing work on. Thankfully its all paying off with an acceptance letter from a forthcoming publication.

Also my continuing illness has a tentative diagnosis of pneumonia. Woohoo!! So blogging has been taking a back seat.

One thing I want to mention is how I love the blogging/twittering etc of NZ art/cultural institutions. I am amazed and surprised by the open-ness. Wonderful stuff and special mention to the friendly people on twitter behind @TePapaColOnline and @ChChArtGallery. Also Te Papa – all is forgiven because you have the full set of these in your collection :-)

I do wonder why Museum/Art Institution blogs don’t get much in the way of comments. Maybe people just aren’t used to interacting in this way, or like me just feel too dumb and so do a good line in inanity.

Some visual art that has taken my eye recently is a very large 2 part (diptych I suppose) painting in MASH cafe on the Octagon. I am not 100% sure about it as maybe it’s really decor type art, but its big and red and has vague figures in white. Its also on a coarse canvas (maybe even my loved hessian?). This is a poor description and no attribution or anything but I like it.

Finally because nothing much has been happening and NZ Music month is almost over

Tall Dwarfs – Nothing’s Going to Happen

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Ignorance is NOT bliss

After reading CherylBernstein’s wonderful review of Rita Angus in Christchurch, and some ensuing discussion I realised how art ignorant I really am.

The thing is I still don’t really understand “curation” even with this great description courtesy of Alibi. I had not considered for example the role of the designer in how a show looks.

The thing is I now have even more questions regarding the Rita Angus exhibition and also the subset of works “on tour”. So here are some of my questions and the reasons why I want to know.

Just what is the designers role in staging such an exhibition?

How were works initially selected ie by what criteria? At Te Papa there seemed too many, in the touring show it seemed to me important works were missing. And then I saw some wonderful Angus works at the Eastern Southland Art Gallery that weren’t included (or apparently considered).

The arrangement of the Te Papa exhibition was around this pretext(from Bronwyn Lloyd)

Rita Angus’s own description of the ideal way to present her art has determined the structure of the ‘Rita Angus Life & Vision’ exhibition, beautifully curated by Jill Trevelyan and William McAloon. Angus’s friend John Money recalled that she imagined her work displayed as a ‘kind of temple of art’ with her three Goddess paintings at the centre surrounded by a series of small chapels containing smaller paintings and watercolours related one to the other.”

So this explains the maze effect at the initial show (which is, as I understand it, replicated in Christchurch). BUT if the three goddesses are so central, why are only two “on tour”?

I want to say that I loved the Life & Vision exhibition as I loved Trevelyan’s book. The exhibition was a bit like the movie version :-). A particular thing I appreciated was the inclusion of sketches and unfinished works so you could get a feel for the process and lots of context (bordering on too much in a gallery situation?). As a historical show yes definitely comprehensive and diligently researched and maybe my earlier gripes are design issues rather than curation?


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Te Papa are art blogging

Maybe that should be Te Papa is? Grammar is not my strong point. However, I subscribed to the Te Papa blog ages ago in the midst of the squid frenzy in hope that the wider museum would start posting regularly and recently they have!

Today’s post is excellent on the topic of Mondrian and a new McCahon acquisition.

I wonder why McCahon’s art affects me so much – even a tiny image on a webpage? I have been moved to tears by them in person as well. I was thinking the other day how the more we know about art and/or the artists affects how we view the work but I’ve always had this reaction to McCahon. So in answer to a recent question “do we have to understand art to like it?” I say an emphatic NO!

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