Monday, July 13, 2015

Noodling on

At Webb’s auction on 14 July you can bid for one of New Zealand’s odder art works and even get yourself some of our writing to hang on your wall. In fairness, most of the words belong to Dick Frizzell and were part of a short essay we wrote on him for Contemporary New Zealand Painters back in 1980. In those days we were ‘writing’ on an IBM Selectric (aka the golf ball), a genius electric typewriter that had an amazing correct feature using a white tape located inside the machine. In this period John Hurrell, evidently driven by masochism, mixed painting and Italian food products and ‘typeset’ around 1300 letters to recreate our Frizzell text on canvas using alphabet pasta. Each word was pasted down one letter at a time and must have taken (at say 10 seconds a letter) at least four hours. Unfortunately Hurrell only had access to capital letters and no punctuation so much of the brilliant literary flavour of our text is lost, but you can get the general idea. At the time Hurrell was making a point about the limitations of this sort of art journalism but, ironically, thanks to the power of pasta and the auction system, he has made it live longer than all of us, Dick included, might ever have imagined.
Image: John Hurrell's painting Frizzell soup 1983. Click on the image to enlarge