Sunday, December 31, 2006

Slave to art

Gambia Castle is the name of a new gallery to open in Auckland sometime early in 2007. The name is taken from a slave ship stolen by the pirate George Lowther. If you believe everything you read in Wikipedia, check out the back story. One good omen. When Lowther signed the crew of the Gambia Castle up for the pirate life, he changed the name of the ship to Delivery. You can check out the pleasantly erratic Gambia Castle blog here.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Twin Peaks

We are seeing a lot of mid to late nineteenth century painting in the museums in California. It brings to mind the exhibition Pacific Parallels that we helped research for our friend Charles Eldredge who is Hall Distinguished Professor at the University of Kansas. Charlie was struck by the parallels between explorer and colonial painting in the US and New Zealand and put together a great exhibition that toured the United States in 1991. Which leads us to a parallel of our own. This one between the painting on the right by an unknown artist on whalebone that we found in a Wellington junk shop and Charles Heaphy’s painting Mt Taranaki on the left.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Look-a-like I

We found the sign “I am the door” in the basement of San Francisco’s City Lights bookstore. The store was co-founded in 1953 by the poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti who discovered this sign and others in a room off the basement. The story is that they were painted on the walls by a Christian sect who had used the basement for their meetings. The signs included “Remember Lot’s wife”, “Born in Sin and Shapen in Niquity”, “I and My Father are One” and “I am the door”. The photo on the right is of Ferlinghetti with the sign in the mid to late 1950s.
Additional information: A reader tells us Colin McCahon visited San Francisco in 1958

Gee's Bend and a June Bug

Two new pieces at stimulusresponse. One is a set of three drawings relating to the exhibition of quilts from Gee's Bend at the DeYoung museum in San Francisco. The other is a text of things heard while sitting in front of Anselm Kiefer's Maikäfer flieg at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Where are they now – Gary Sangster

In the late eighties, and for the briefest time, Gary Sangster was senior curator at the National Art Gallery in Wellington. Since then he has been a curator at the New Museum in New York and museums in Cleveland and Baltimore. Now he is the Director of Headlands Center for the Arts, an artist residency program in San Francisco. The residencies are housed in an old army complex with up to 20 artists working there at a time. The Center has also commissioned a number of artists to fit-out various rooms in the Headlands buildings. The communal dining room was designed, decorated and furnished by Ann Hamilton. She collected an eclectic variety of chairs, crockery and kitchen utensils from locals and other artists to fit out the area as well as design the spaces and functions.
Details of Ann Hamilton's installation are pictured above.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Art is where you find it I

In this case spotted walking past the foyer of the Four Seasons Hotel on Market Street, San Francisco.
Left: Max Gimblett Ashur 2001. Right: Max Gimblett Face of silence 1997

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Open Mike

This picture is of Michael Stevenson’s Capp Street project at the CCA Wattis Institute in San Francisco. We sent a text to Michael saying we were standing in front of his distressed version of the Moniac. His reply, “You made it to the fountain of prosperity.”

Friday, December 22, 2006


Another list, how we love them, this time for the Prospect exhibition slated for the City Gallery next year.

Liz Allan, Fiona Amundsen, Steve Carr, Octavia Cook, Pip Culbert, Simon Denny, Daniel du Bern, Rachel Easting, et al., Darren Glass, Jacquelyn Greenbank, Brett Graham, Jason Greig, David Hatcher, Richard Killeen, Gregor Kregar, Janet Lilo, Andrew McLeod, Gina Matchitt, Judy Millar, Michael Morley, Simon Morris, Seung Yul Oh, Kim Paton, Miranda Parkes, Nova Paul, Jeena Shin, Ngataiharuru Taepa, The Association of Collaboration, Rachael Rakena, Rohan Wealleans

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Home and away

We’re going to be in the US for three weeks from today, starting in San Francisco. Posts will be intermittent until 13 January or so but the RSS feed will alert you to our return. If you're frantic about this sort of gap in your life (and we know at least one of you might be) email us and we’ll let you know when we’re back on stream.
As most of you will have guessed the picture above is a model of San Francisco created in jelly.

Blow up

We loved this Patrick Reynold’s photograph of Michael Parekowhai’s inflatable rabbit Cosmo. It was not used in the article William McAloon wrote about the work in our collection in the December issue of Art & Australia, so Patrick kindly allowed us to publish it here.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Ad ons

White Fungus magazine has come a long way. The latest issue looks good and has some solid art features including a great interview with Yvonne Todd. Her photographs reproduced on matt, absorbent paper, are compelling. There’s also work by Hany Armanious, Peter Robinson and a feature on Choi Jeong Hwa’s Scape installation. As a bonus White Fungus now attracts high impact advertising that makes a significant content contribution. In the latest issue Peter McLeavey quotes Robert Bresson, Michael Lett looks sideways at the Christmas spirit and, as you can see above, Hamish McKay features Rohan Wealleans. You can get the mag in Wellington or Auckland - and check out their cool site.

Worth repeating

Peter Peryer’s site is always worth a visit. He has just put up a great selection of rabbit photos he has taken over the years - check it out. We asked Peter for his view on the multiple idea, here is his reply.

The size of multiples is a complex issue I find. We have Ansel Adams who printed Moonrise Over Hernandez (incidentally taken on the day I was born) on demand and reaching something like 800 + copies. Demonstrating I think that there is a relationship between what people will pay for a work and its popularity. Somehow a works fame generates ongoing sales.

The biggest edition I ever made was Mt Taranaki. There I decided, upon the basis of feedback from some respondents that I was onto a runner. Consequently I made it an attractive price ($1000) and printed 50. Now after 5 years I have 4 left and the last 2 or 3 have sold for $2,500.

The smallest edition that I’ve made is Apple Tree. It was an edition of 5.That was a mistake. It sold out within a month.

Generally I make editions of either 10 or 15. Lately I’ve been finding that 10 doesn’t quite give me enough latitude. Having an extra 5 up my sleeve is very satisfying e.g. ten Tecomanthes have sold. I wouldn’t like to not have any more. They are the cream. Monarch had only 10 in the edition. That too was a mistake.

Another question that I have to ask myself is does it really make any difference to the client whether or not there are, say, 10 or 15. Perhaps smaller editions put more pressure on the client, editions such as 2 or 3 I mean, but for this to work the prices asked have to be really solid, of an order that just can’t be reached in NZ.

Peter's photograph, reproduced at the top of this post is: After Rembrandt 1995

Seeing double

Printmakers, photographers and some sculptors have always made multiple copies of their work. With certain arcane exceptions, any one version is usually considered to be as good as any of the others, although there can be some contention, the creation of editions after an artist's death for example. Take the production of new Len Lye works by the Len Lye Foundation. Anyone who saw Len Lye fussing round for days on end with the large Fountain has to have some reservations about whether the works created after his death would meet Lye's personal standards.

Anyway, contemporary edition-making has taken an interesting turn with the works in many editions some editions being distinctly different, rather than replicas of each other. We experienced this phenomenon in a Parkett edition by Paul McCarthy. The first work sent to us was from a different planet to any images we had seen from the edition. When we asked for a more representative work, Parkett made the swap without any fuss.

This unique-item aspect of multiples has exciting potential for collectors. incredible individual works at a reasonable prices! The recent editions on offer from ArtSpace have a number of pieces that are multiply-unique. Each sculpture in Peter Robinson's edition of five for instance, will differ in various subtle ways and, having seen one, it's hard to imagine it being duplicated in any cloning sense of the word. They will all be unique works based on an original. Donald Judd once neatly described this kind of process as creating ‘different examples’.

Illustration: Paul McCarthy Billy Club 25/36

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Place your bets please

The list of artists chosen for the Venice publication shows you can’t please any of the people all of the time. To prove the point, here are the lists of artists in four exhibitions that aimed to show the best of the best when they were selected.

The first is a 1961 survey exhibition selected by Peter Tomory, the second was presented by the National Art Gallery in 1986, and the third is the City Gallery’s Prospect show of 2001. Then, to show this hard-to-pick phenomenon is global and timeless, one of Dorothy Miller’s famous summary exhibitions for the Museum of Modern Art. This one from 1952.

Auckland Art Gallery: Contemporary New Zealand painting 1961
Ted Bracey, Dorothy Bramwell, Andre Brooke, Helen Brown, Betty Clegg, John Coley, Melvin Day, Bryan Drew, Tim Garrity, Susan Goldberg, Rudolf Gopas, Frank Gross, Louise Henderson, John Holmwood, Ralph Hotere, WRM Jackson, William Jones, Hamish Keith, Doris Lusk, Colin McCahon, Quentin McFarlane, Lois McIvor, William Mason, Rachel Miller, Milan Mrkusich, Brian Mudge, Althea Northey, Graham Percy, Margot Philips, Alison Pickmere, Frances Rutherford, John Ryman, Freda Symonds, PM Slight, Pete Smith, Michael Smither, John Pine Snadden, Malcolm Warr, Graeme Wilson and Toss Woollaston.

National Art Gallery: Content/Context 1986
Gretchen Albrecht, Stephen Bambury, Mary-Louise Browne, Bronwynne Cornish, Paul Cullen, Julian Dashper, Shona Rapira Davies, Margaret Dawson, Neil Dawson, Victoria Edwards, Jacqueline Fraser, Di Ffrench, Alberto Garcia-Alvarez, Jeffrey Harris, Christine Hellyar, Robert Jesson, Morgan Jones, Richard Killeen, Vivian Lynn, Mary McIntyre, Robert McLeod, Ian McMillan, Richard McWhannell, Paratene Matchitt, Julia Morison, Maria Olsen, Don Peebles, Peter Peryer, Matt Pine, Pauline Rhodes, James Ross, Marie Shannon, Sylvia Siddell, Marte Szirmay, Pauline Thompson, Philip Trusttum, Barbara Tuck, Merylyn Tweedie, Greer Twiss, Warren Viscoe, Gordon Walters, Denys Watkins, Christine Webster, Arnold Wilson, Toss Woollaston, Jane Zusters.

City Gallery Wellington: Prospect 2001
Laurence Aberhart, Gretchen Albrecht, Hannah and Aaron Beehre, Gavin Chilcott, Bill Culbert, Tony de Lautour, Brett Graham, Kirsty Gregg, Bill Hammond, Michael Harrison, Ralph Hotere, Sean Kerr, Richard Killeen, Leigh Martin, Richard McWhannell, Julia Morison, Simon Morris, Milan Mrkusich, Ani O'Neill, Fiona Pardington, Michael Parekowhai, Anton Parsons, Seraphine Pick, Phil Price, John Pule, John Reynolds, Natalie Robertson, Caroline Rothwell, Ross T Smith, Jim Speers, Yuk King Tan, Andrew Thomas, Terry Urbahn.

MoMA: 15 Americans 1952
Edward Corbett, Fredrick Kiesler, Herbert Ferber, William Baziotes, Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, Clifford Still, Bradley Walker Tomlin, Richard Lippold, Thomas Wilfred, John Glasco, Irving Kriesberg, Herbert Katzman, Herman Rose, Edwin Dickinson.

COMMENTARY: A reader noted that Peter Tomory was not trying for a best of the best exhibition but only intended "showing a 'representative' sample of 'serious' work across the country".

Monday, December 18, 2006

Follow the money

Anyone wanting to follow up on Michael Stevenson’s interest in the MONIAC and its journey to Guatamala, must see this video. Talking recently at the Auckland Art Gallery, Michael explained how the economic system forced on Guatamala by the United Fruit Company was a factor in the importation of the MONIAC. Follow this link to a great corporate video produced by the United Fruit Company in 1950.


In response to a request from Auckland to see the banners in Wellington featuring Neil Dawson's sculpture Ferns. Associated Post

For the Nation Part 2

More from Te Papa’s Annual Report. This time a list of the scholarly and popular articles published by the visual arts curators and staff over the twelve months ended 30 June 2006.

Scholarly articles
1 Natasha Conland, an article on Saskia Leek in Broadsheet number 35
2 Tony Mackle, an article on Stewart McLennan in the Journal of New Zealand Art History
3 Jonathan Mane-Wheoki, a chapter in a book co-authored with Edward Lucie-Smith and Noel Hilliard The art of Robyn Kahukiwa.
4 Jonathan Mane-Wheoki, an article in Art and social change: contemporary art in Asia and the Pacific edited by C Turner.
5 Athol McCredie an article on public art galleries in the Journal of Museums Aotearoa

Popular articles
No popular article were recorded.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Missing in action

While we are in list mode, we are often asked who was going to be in Contemporary New Zealand Painters volume 2: N-Z. This list is from memory. Hard to remember, and even harder to believe.

Alistair Nisbet-Smith
Evelyn Page
Joanna Paul
Alan Pearson
Don Peebles
Ross Ritchie
Ian Scott
Michael Smither
Bill Sutton
Graeme Sydney
Geoff Thornley
Charles Tole
Philip Trusttum
Gordon Walters
Robin White
Mervyn Williams
Toss Woollaston

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Mental elf

For everyone who has read our review, seen images of Ronnie Van Hout’s Jingle Bowels sculptures - or, even better, the exhibition itself at Hamish McKay’s - and come away feeling that artists have all the fun, hope is at hand. Go straight to www.elfyourself and get with some consumer generated Christmas spirit.

Friday, December 15, 2006

The business of art

While on the subject of Larry Gagosian here are some quotes taken from his recent presentation as inaugural speaker at The Business of Art a joint venture between Wharton and the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA)

"Art is not tradable, like an asset. You shouldn't acquire it to add to a diverse portfolio. There is intrinsic value in art. It should be easier for you to buy it than to sell it. The key is simply accumulating it.

"Classic business models could never work you have to be counter-intuitive Picasso has held up [as an investment] better than Chevrolet.

"An old German art dealer once said that because of the temperaments in the art world, rarely is a work of art sold before 10 a.m. in the morning. And that's fine with me.

"I am a dealer who collects, yes, but I don't have a collector's mentality. I'm not a real collector. And what I do collect is not for sale.

“It's better to buy and keep art over time and let the artistic asset slowly increase in value. Don't buy somebody else's taste. Art is not meant as an 'asset class.' It can become an asset, but that happens more by accident."
Source article published: November 01, 2006 in Knowledge@Wharton

Rush job

As you can see below, artists who were lucky enough to be selected for the Venice publication were given ten days to create, and deliver their six artist pages. Counting down that leaves four working days left. Fortunately artists work weekends.

Marked up template, related images and artist bio due:
Wednesday 20 December 2006

Finished size: 170mm(W) x 240mm(H)
Bleed: 3-5mm top, bottom, outside
Image resolution: 300dpi TIFF at print size
Margins: 16mm(top), 26mm(bottom), 10mm(inside & outside)
Venice Book :: Artist Template Guidelines from WARREN OLDS 10/12/2006

Thursday, December 14, 2006

The gavel and the cell phone - a Christmas story

At the recent Sotheby's auction Tobias Meyer, having driven the price of Picasso's Boy with a pipe up to $US 72 million, looked up to see underbidder Larry Gagosian snap his cell phone closed and put it in his pocket. About to knock the painting down, Meyer paused and sensed something was not quite right. Looking over at Gagosian he asked if he would like " a little more time". The über dealer looked up, tapped his neighbour on the arm, and borrowing his phone punched in his client's number. The connection re-established - Gagosian's phone, it turned out had run out of juice - Meyer took the bidding up another 20 million. Auctions - you gotta love 'em. Original story Vanity Fair Art Issue

Nose job

Michael Parekowhai has always been one for a big gesture and nowhere more so than in his recent Roslyn Oxley exhibition in Sydney. The image on the left shows the scale of his work The horn of Africa. There are more images on Roslyn Oxley’s site. The small china seal ornament on the right was the one scaled up to perform the spectacular balancing act. Once again Parekowhai deftly manages the heroic transformation of the commonplace.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006


Just in is the book on the right from Museum Abteiberg Monchengladbach in Germany. It is a record of Michael Stevenson’s 2005 exhibition at the Museum titled Art of the eighties and seventies. The book (as did the exhibition) focuses on two installations. The first examines the connections in the 1980s between the collector Giuseppe Count Panza di Biumo and the design and building of Monchengladbach. In the second the fate of Tony Shafrazi’s contemporary art gallery in Iran is explored. Opened in 1978, Shafrazi was able to hold one exhibition (Gold bricks by Armenia artist Zadik Zadikian) before being closed down during the overthrow of the Shah and the Islamic Revolution. The book includes an interview with Hans Hollein, the architect of Monchengladbach and an essay by David Craig of the University of Auckland.

The book on the left was published in 1999 and is a catalogue of Count Panza’s collection.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Ronnie van Hout "Jingle bowels" and Rohan Wealleans "Where is Blitzen baby?"

Over at stimulusresponse there is a comic strip "review" of the current exhibition at the Hamish McKay gallery in Wellington, Ronnie van Hout Jingle bowels and Rohan Wealleans Where is Blitzen baby? The show is on from the 2nd to the 23rd of December, 2006.

The comic, set in present day Iraq, is available here.


For our Australian readers - you know who you are - very late breaking news that Lazlo (The Hammer) Toth, the man who attacked the Pieta in 1972, was deported back to Australia in 1975. For more details check out the where-are-they-now story in the Guardian.

Room with a view

This small building at 589 New North Road in Auckland houses the first Jar Project. The installation, by Stephen Bambury, is called Room for reflection. You can see from our photograph that it is well titled. The work, which can only be viewed from the street is a small room with its floor covered in oil. This Jar Project opened in early 2005, so we were late getting to it - but there are more promised. Check out the web site Jackbooks for more about the Jar Trust (Leigh Davis, Susan Davis & Wystan Curnow), its goals (promoting strong, singular art for public consumption) and especially the photographs by Patrick Reynolds.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Copy cats I

Left: Martin Creed, Michael Lett Gallery, Auckland
Right: Display window, Auckland Art Gallery

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Your tax dollar at work

To help them develop an international strategy for the visual arts, Creative New Zealand is sending the following people on an expenses paid trip to the Venice Biennale, Documenta and the Basel Art Fair. John McCormack, who was also listed, will in fact be paying his own way.
Natasha Conland – curator
Gavin Hipkins – artist
Gary Langsford – art gallery dealer
Lisa Reihana - artist
Undine Marshfield – Creative New Zealand

Fun and games

Here's another list for your entertainment, this one from Rob Garrett ex Creative New Zealand. The artists selected for a book to be published and distributed at the next Venice Biennale follows. We have also included the curators responsible for the selection. Word on the street is that each curator, as part of the deal, got to include one artist without debate. For a few minutes of fun try matching curators with their favourite artist. All entries welcome, and a small prize for the most convincing set of matches.

Amundson, Billy Apple, Eve Armstrong, Andrew Barber, Mladen Bizumic, Stella Brennan, Bill Culbert, Judy Darragh, Julian Dashper, Simon Denny, Bill Hammond, David Hatcher, Sean Kerr, Maddie Leach, Jae Hoon Lee, Saskia Leek, Andrew McLeod, Daniel Malone, Judy Millar, Dane Mitchell, Ani O'Neil, Michael Parekowhai, John Reynolds, Peter Robinson, Jim Speers, Sriwhana Spong, Yuk King Tan, Yvonne Todd, Francis Upritchard, Ronnie Van Hout, Rohan Wealleans

The list makers
Brian Butler (Artspace)
Dana Mossman (Physics Room)
Emma Bugden (Te Tui)
Heather Galbraith (City Gallery)
Justin Paton (Dunedin Public Art Gallery)
Mercedes Vicente (Govett-Brewster)
Natasha Conland (Auckland Art Gallery)
Tina Barton (Victoria University Art History)

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Grabbing the ball by its ferns

This perfect homage to Neil Dawson’s Ferns can be found in Masterton. When Neil came up with his idea for this sculpture for Wellington’s Civic Square, he knew it would become an icon. What he surely did not imagine was how many times the work would be reproduced - and in what strange and wonderful ways. This year Christmas banners around Wellington sport Ferns as a bright silver decoration inside a yellow sun-burst, on top of a green triangle (read tree). Our favourite Ferns hustlers use the folk at Café Press who make possible fine Fern Ball (sic) products including the Fern Ball Jr. Spaghetti Tank, the Fern Ball clock, the Fern Ball throw pillow and - you know you need one - the Fern Ball BBQ Apron. Rush now to Café Press and order up large for Christmas.


This Maurizio Cattelan sculpture Not Afraid to Love greets you upstairs at the Rubell collection in Miami. We first met Mera and Don at the Melbourne Art Fair and had no idea of what an extraordinary collection they put together. Later, when we visited them in Miami it was at the Rubell collection we saw Gregor Schneider’s work for the first time and had the incredible opportunity to look at installations by Paul McCarthy without barriers or guards. Another great private collection displayed in grown-up conditions is in Los Angeles - the Eli Broad Foundation collection. You have to email ( to make an appointment but that seems to be mainly a formality. We have just arrived at the door and been let in a couple of times. So, if you want to walk under a giant Robert Therrien table or see Koon’s huge Balloon Dog, this is the place to do it.

Head case

Ronnie van Hout’s exhibition Jingle Bowels at Hamish McKay’s is a set of animated store window Christmas figures sporting Ronnie’s own features. In 1993 Ronnie was working at what was then called the National Art Gallery. After helping pack out the exhibition Headlands: thinking through New Zealand art, he rescued the discarded signage and labels for the show. Later that year he reinstalled the labels and signs at Cubewell House. This was a space that operated for around a year out of an office building just down from the Embassy theatre on Kent Terrace. Thanks to the arrangement of cubicles in the space, Ronnie somehow was able to mirror almost exactly the placement and juxtapositions of all the works in the show. This ghost exhibition of labels was called When Art Hits the Headlands. Of course it came with a complete and fully illustrated catalogue (the labels printed out in black and white) along with a director's four words (ok), acknowledgements, an introduction and an essay 'Submarine culture' by Ronnie Van Hout..

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Catch of the day

At Webb's auction on Tuesday night, Peter Peryer's picture Trout was sold for $8750 plus 12.5% commission. The picture had been estimated at between $4000 and $6000 and was one of the few items to bid above its high estimate. In 1987, when the picture was exhibited, we happened to be in Auckland and took a photo of Peter and two of his friends holding the photograph. So here they are. The person who caught the trout, the person who cooked it and, of course Peter, who photographed it.

Waiting for the sun to shine.

Reading a completely stupid review of Julian Dashper’s exhibition at Sue Crockford’s by T J McNamara this morning, and watching Taxi Driver last night, reminded us that we had Julian Dashper’s old taxi driver’s ID in a file somewhere. And here it is. In the early eighties, Julian would take us for amazing rides through Auckland at night pointing out strange and unlikely landmarks. It was like being in the opening sequence of Fellini’s Roma. As you can guess from the ID, Julian was a great fan of the Martin Scorsese film and even made a work Are You Talkin’ to me…? - a sticker printed with the famous phrase. As for T J McNamara, it's hard to know why he bothers. By our count, this is his 34th negative review in a row for Julian. Er, we get it TJ - you don’t like the work. Ok, breathe in, breathe out. It’s time to move on.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Ok, ok.... ok.

Our post about the bronze sculpture at the bottom of Wellington's Plimmer Steps caused a bit of excitement. So, in response to requests from Belgium, Brazil, London, Auckland, Denver, Sydney, Melbourne, Vienna, New York, Los Angeles and, yes, Lower Hutt - here is dog-leg guy. Click on the pic if you're up to viewing the happy couple in vista-vision.

Monday, December 04, 2006

You're not in Guatemala now Dr. Phillips

Last week in San Francisco Michael Stevenson’s Capp Street Project c/o the Central Bank of Guatemala opened at the CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts. It was commissioned by curator Ralph Rugoff who is now director of the Hayward Gallery in London. This project sees Michael revisiting part of his Venice Biennale project This is the Trekka. It featured the Moniac, a water-based economic modeller invented by New Zealand economist Bill Phillips. The photo here is of Michael recording the Moniac when he visited it for the first time at the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research in Wellington. We missed the Venice exhibition but will be in San Francisco while Michael's project is on show.


...and while we are on about strange public art, consider these tourist hire vans from Dunedin. We asked the German couple who were driving I AM VAN if we could take a picture. They were delighted. "You are not the first to ask" they told us.

Stuck on you

Anyone who has been to Wellington and seen the sculpture of the man with a dog stuck to his leg at the bottom of Plimmer Steps, will feel a jolt of familiarity at this image. To see many, many more fabulously strange and appalling public sculptures visit the blog To Wellington's dog-leg, Auckland’s Pohutukawa and the Christchurch Corgis, let's add the latest from the Wellington Sculpture Trust published in today's Dominion Post.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Giovanni we hardly knew you.

This postcard from Giovanni Intra was stuck inside a file of animals-make-art clippings (including the fabulous Jodi, Wellington Zoo's painting chimp) we were saving for Ronnie van Hout who's in Wellington for his exhibition with Rohan Wealleans. Where else would you expect to find a polyglot? The work Giovanni had in the Sculpitecture - a term hilariously coined by Anthony Caro - exhibition at Hamish McKay's gallery was a small version of the camera parts piece exhibited in his memorial show at the Auckland Art Gallery.

Das Blaue Haus

(Review from stimulusresponse)

Michael Lett in Wellington
The Blue House
7 Hawker Street
Mount Victoria

24 - 26 November 2006
12pm - 6pm


There is a red car (Toyota Starlet) parked at the end of the driveway and a bright aqua hose is attached to a tap on the side of the house. The house is painted a grey-blue with off-white trimmings. The entrance to the show is at the back of the house where there is a disused miniature soccer goal with a white ball resting in the grass behind it. Further around is a scooter covered in a blue "Vespa" tarp.

In The Hall:

On the wall to the right is a yellow-headed pin (Ryan Moore) stuck into the wall at roughly 1.5 meters height. It is in the right-hand third of one of the panels in the dark-brown wood-panelled wall. To the left of the pin is the door to The Bedroom, and to the right of the pin is a closed door.

To the left of the doorway to The Bedroom is a projected video by Campbell Patterson ("Rollerblading Around My Pants"). The projector (Sony) sits on top of the DVD player (Digitor) which, in turn, rests on two orange Veuve Clicquot champagne boxes. The projection is directly onto the wall and cuts across two panels, distorting where it crosses the ridge between them.

In the video, the artist, wearing a yellow t-shirt, black shorts, black rollerblades, and black wrist and knee protectors, rollerblades into the corner of a room. He takes off his shorts, struggling both because he is unstable on the rollerblades and because the rollerblades are difficult to get through the legs of the shorts. He throws the shorts into the foreground after initially placing them in the corner. Their white lining is now visible. He begins to rollerblade around the shorts shakily. Several times he loses balance, leaning on the wall and holding out his hands to avoid falling. He rollerblades anticlockwise for around thirteen minutes. When he finishes rollerblading he skates back to the camera and we see a flash of his shoulder, then his hair, then the movie resets: The shorts disappear from the floor, we see a flash of hair again, then he skates out to take the shorts off again.

Opposite the projection is a squarish black couch where Michael Lett and Ryan Moore are sitting and talking quietly. To the left of the couch are arranged four works by Rachel Walters: "Bird Bird" (a blue porcelain bird with its face covered in opaque all-purpose bathroom sealant with a smaller bird on a mirrored stand attached horizontally to the larger bird's left side), "Dove Game" (a stuffed or fake dove standing in brown no-more-nails on top of a blue and white puzzle with its wings raised awkwardly above its body), "Rabbit Box" (a ceramic rabbit with painted on eyelashes embedded in no-more-nails on a circular wooden plinth), and "Squirrel Vase" (a ceramic squirrel holding an acorn, its face buried beneath all-purpose bathroom sealant on which is mounted a small, bronze vase).

In The Living Room:

To the right of the doorway is a fireplace (no fire) which is tiled with mottled/tortoise-shell tiles in the shape and traditional layout of bricks. On the mantle above it is "Piss Shit Fuck" by Peter Madden. A smooth shape of gold foil sits beside a small plinth built into the mantlepiece. The foil is wrapped around a rock. On the foil are five flies, two arranged one on top of the other. The flies are painted with tiny skulls on their backs in a powdery paint. In the fireplace below there is a small piece of cardboard ("AGFA for colour prints") as well as ash and scorch marks.

Moving anti-clockwise, a tea-towel (Simon Denny - "Slump") hangs from the small ledge that circles the wood-panelled walls of the room well above head height. The tea-towel is green with many white golf-balls drawn on it. The golf-balls are labelled with numbers from 1 to 4.

Immediately to the left is a large construction, also by Simon Denny ("This Size"). One thick board stands upright some distance from the wall. Attached (white headed pins) to the side facing away from the wall are three pieces of beige paper. A crinkled piece of paper rests on the gap between the upright board, and another, thinner piece of board which curves up from the floor toward the wall. Where it meets the wall it traps some leaflets from the Warehouse against it ($248.64 for a set of swings, $299.94 for a trampoline, or $2.95 per week, some items 30% off). The two boards are supported in place by a further piece of card rolled into a tube which extends between them and on which the crinkled paper rests. At the top right, where the curving board meets the wall, is a small, decorative hook made of dark metal and nailed to the wall.

To the left is a work by Steve Carr framed in light-coloured wood ("Oil Painting") hung to fit in a single panel of the dark-wood wall, between two ridges. Inside the frame is the base of a used pizza box with a roughly circular oil stain on it, along with small pieces of crust and smears of topping. There is a slightly yellowed area in a triangular shape at the bottom right. The oil reveals the pinstriped nature of the base. There is a nail in the wall above and to the right of the work.

Further anticlockwise, on the window ledge of the rightmost window in the room, facing toward the city, is "Flowering Pencil" by Peter Madden. Embedded in a blob of a waxy substance is the pointed end of a stub of pencil. The shaft has been pared into a flowering of shavings still attached to the stub. A further four pared stubs are piled, one on top of the other. At the top is a full pencil with a black shaft, also pointing downward.

In The Bedroom:

Across The Hall from The Living Room is The Bedroom. In the middle of the floor is Eve Armstrong's "Slump." It is largely formed of a pile of rubbish bags (black, dirty orange, and brown). Also in the pile are dirty bricks, a rubber floor mat, flattened cardboard boxes, a green carpet, a fire-place grill, mottled green foam. One of the broken-down cardboard boxes reads "CURTAIN TIE BLA, 24 PCS/CTN, 12 PCS/INNER". One black bag has a tear in it, but all that can be seen is grey plastic. The floor has brown tape stuck down onto it which also fastens down some of the cardboard and a mat. It extends in strips outward toward the doorway. Another box reads "CUT TO OPEN CAREFULLY." The box to the far left of the room leans against a fireplace in which is a charred block of wood. The garbage bags are tied shut with their own tops in knots. It is possible to see through the plastic of one bag: Inside is a woven plastic bag.

On the wall to the left of the door out are four words in yellow neon: "LEANER", "FASTER", "STRONGER", and "SMARTER" (Ryan Moore). For each neon light, two cables hang down and attach to white boxes which are in turn plugged into two two-way splitters in a silver powerpoint. The white boxes also have short yellow wires extending from them capped in a small blue section and then a loop of metal. The white boxes read "Handen" and "Attention! Indoor use only!" Above the right-most white box is a phone jack. The neon is pale or white where it has been bent to form the letters. The letters are fixed to the wall with small, clear plastic attachments with thin wire twisted around the neon itself. The neon shifts in depth as well as in two dimensions (for instance, in creating an "N", the inner portions of the two angles curve inward to avoid one another). The letters in a single word (such as "SMARTER") are either joined to each other directly through the neon tube, in which case the portion of tube which is in neither letter is painted to be blank (for example, from A to R), or a thinner wire carries the connection between them (from R to T, for example).

On the floor in front of and to the right of the neon is a globe (Ryan Moore). The globe is mounted on a wooden stand and has a flat metal band around it, with the thin edge of the band pointing outward. The band has measurements in degrees on it. Uppermost on the globe is Mongolia. The globe still recognises the USSR and East Pakistan. There is a tear at the equator (which is also the seam of the globe) in the Indian Ocean. At the top axis of the globe is a small disc which shows the hours of the day and is also divided into day (white, with a drawing of a sun, 6am to 6pm) and night (black, with drawings of stars and the moon, 6pm to 6am).

In The Kitchen:

In the back corner of The Kitchen, next to windows which open onto The Living Room, is a charcoal drawing of a man and woman ("To Enjoy" by Matt Ellwood). The woman is smiling and has her left arm around the man's shoulders and her right hand on his knee. She is wearing a singlet and the bottom half of a bikini. The man is leaning back with his arms loosely folded, hands relaxed. He is topless and wearing jeans. Her speech balloon covers his face and reads: "WHERE OTHERS RUSH THROUGH LIFE, HE KNOWS WHEN TO REFLECT." The man's cigarette protrudes beneath the speech balloon. From the man's crotch comes another speech balloon which reads: "TO ENJOY." The drawing is masked to be a circlular shape.

On the bench below are: two wine glasses, one drinking glass, three plastic cups (two stacked), one take-out coffee cup branded by Havana, two small plates, one large serving plate with remnants of food on it, a kitchen knife, two butter knifes, crumbs, a lavender-scented soap dispenser, a plug, cleaning-up liquid, a green teatowel, two bottle caps from swappa-crate bottles, one swappa-crate bottle.

Directly above the drawing is a lamp on an extending trellis, aimed at, but not illuminating, the opposite wall.

Works not featured in this review:

  • "untitled" by Hany Armonious (drawing on wrapping paper)
  • "Rabbit" by Hany Armonious (inflatable alien, tea-towel holder)
  • "#2" and "#5" by Eve Armstrong (collage with tape, photographs)
  • "Soft Fall" by Simon Denny (sculpture with boards and paintings)
  • "Scale Up" by Simon Denny (sculpture with found materials and paintings)
  • "Your Stand Up" by Simon Denny (sculpture with found materials)
  • "various" by Eileen Leung (four sculptures in wood and perspex)
  • "The Bosom of Abraham" by Michael Parekowhai (lightbox)
  • "untitled" by Mary Teague (painting on hessian with nylon rope)

Friday, December 01, 2006

...but not forgotten

One of the great things about having much of our collection on loan to the Dunedin Public art Gallery is a feature that allows us to swap and return work to us here in Wellington. As part of the move to set up the Reboot exhibition, curated by Justin Paton, we asked the gallery to send us Barnard McIntyre's untitled sculpture that you can see on the left. It is a small (53 cm high) ribbed metal wall sculpture of painted copper. With its obvious reference to seed pods and regeneration it also retains a frailty that was a feature of much of Barnard's work. He was one of those artists that could make effortless looking objects that were, at the same time, incredibly authentic and believable. Unfortunately, for all of us, Barnard left New Zealand to live in Australia and we haven't seen anything from him for a long time now. What has been interesting for us is how many people have responded strongly to this work since it has been hanging here. The sculpture pictured next to our piece is another untitled work that was purchased by our friends Les and Milly Paris. This is not a small work, and once again for all its bold shape and exotic patterning, is quite frail in its construction. We’re having a wonderful time Barnard, wish you were here.