Friday, December 12, 2014

Full house

It’s not often a New Zealand artist is given an entire building to fill and Yvonne Todd's exhibition Creamy Psychology might well be a first for the City Gallery in this niche category. It's a real challenge. Artist, curator, and institution all have to be convinced that the work will be enough to engage people through all seven spaces, some of them very large.  So impressive to see how Yvonne Todd, the surprise winner of the first Walters Prize (probably time to stop saying surprise by now) has nailed sport’s equivalent of the triple somersault with pike and twist. All this comes with some significant help from the curator Robert Leonard who has always had a talent for making artists look good on and off the wall.

But you do have to wonder why such a dynamic exhibition complete with a 257-page book/catalogue gets just one venue. Ok, Christchurch is out of contention at the moment but what about Yvonne Todd’s hometown crowd in Auckland? The Auckland Art Gallery has not got a great record for hosting its local artists (particularly when the shows have been mounted out of town) but Yvonne Todd? Come on. No doubt the omission will be deflected with the usual mutterings: ’we weren’t offered it’ ,  ‘it wouldn’t fit’, ’the lenders won’t agree to extended loans’ etc. There was a time when Aucklanders would head south to see an exhibition like this but, apart from a few die-hard fans, those days have long gone. Surely even a minimum of institutional collegiality could ensure an important show like this could be seen by the biggest potential audience in the country.