Posts Tagged ‘Walters’

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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It’s exotic

I cannot write or say the word ‘exotic’ without thinking of Waynetta Slob (Kathy Burke on the Harry Enfield Show) who named her second child, Spudulika “It’s not Spud-u-like-a, it’s SPUDULIKA – it’s exotic!” (The other child was named Frogmella).

However, all week here, there has been an African elephant roaming around in a paddock near the shopping centre. Ok – it’s with the circus, but it is disconcerting to see an elephant in there with the cows. My partner’s office also looks out on this paddock and he said for a start he kept doing a double take when he saw it out the window. By the end of the week it didn’t seem so odd seeing a large exotic animal on the way to the supermarket.

I won’t get too much into the debate about circus animals, because no, it’s not the best thing and it would be great to see Jumbo re-homed with some other african elephants, but its not a perfect world. When I saw her roaming around freely and not exhibiting any of the compulsive behaviours I’ve seen in some other ex-circus elephants, I figure the owners are probably doing their best – for now. The situation needs to be monitored though.

What’s this go to do with art? Well I’ve been doing some reading on the whole “New Zealand light” theory and it occurred to me how like with Jumbo in our town centre, the exotic over time is assimilated into the everyday.  So when European artists arrived here, (after the polynesian onesof course), they bought their exotic techniques, styles and materials. Over time New Zealand artists emerged, assimilating, incorporating and appropriating what NZ had to offer. The light may have been one factor. I can’t personally say, as I’ve only left NZ once and the light in the Australian outback was certainly different – but that is a limited comparison.

Image from Gordon’s Koru T – by Thunderpants

Of course the introduction of overseas influences continues, sometimes with local adaptions, sometimes not. Some NZ twists are not always smack you in the face obvious either. Maybe not a great example, but take Clairmont. Heavily influenced by Max Beckman, but you can’t get much more kiwi than Clothesline in the Nor-Wester.

Oh and writing a post about people being snarky, is snarky in itself isn’t it? :-)

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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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I had almost given up all thought of actually owning any of the art I like in the future. Even when confining it to New Zealand art and within that, limited editions of block prints/screen prints/lino-cuts/lithographs/etchings, it seemed unachievable. However yesterday I received the Art+Object Catalogue for their upcoming “New Collectors Art” auction. There is quite a lot in it that I would be VERY happy to own and as everything is pretty much expected to be under the $5000-$10,000 mark, it gives me hope. Not this time though unless I sell one of my children (I’m joking – ok!).

There was a nice Richard McWhannell, several Gordon Walters screen-prints including Arahura, a Billy Apple ‘Paid’, an Ian Scott ‘Lattice‘. But to me (of course) I would jump at the Philip Clairmont “Vietnam: Past and Future?” (1972) .


(the Billy Apple in the sale has a ‘workshop’ invoice)

Its funny how in catalogues and galleries you often see pieces appear and disappear as if they were never there. I have been keeping a little database of Clairmonts that come and go like this and comparing it the the list in the back of ‘The Resurrection’ book. Its very interesting to watch their travels. I suppose the sales sites could give the same picture but my database predilection is a hangover from my IT geek days.

Other things that have made my vaguely embarrassing desire to OWN art seem possible and not quite so indulgent, are some articles I’ve read recently:

2001 article about Jim Barr and Mary Barr. “one of the Barr’s most expensive early purchases was a work by Philip Clairmont for $180, which they paid off over six months.” The lesson – buy emerging art.

And in Art New Zealand about Jim and Milly Paris “the Parises have chosen to sacrifice many of the luxuries that would normally come their way.” The lesson – prioritise.

I just love this photo. I sort of wish it was my living room:


However being the little socialist I am, my money really would be better off going to Dafur or something. I’ll probably just stick to paying the bills.

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