Monday, November 24, 2008

So what else is new?

The new director of the New Dowse has old problems to deal with. The new in New Dowse can be pinned to the previous director Tim Walker. True, there was a new building, but the crafternoon community approach that had reached giddy heights under a previous director James Mack, has remained pretty much in place for over 15 years.

The good news is that Cam McCracken, the incoming sixth director, told the Hutt News that he had a “particular bent for contemporary art” something that was given a very strong and successful emphasis in his last institution Te Tui in Manukau City. The New Dowse does have an art collection to build on. Over the 37 years of its existence it has lurched from an focus on South Island artists (that would be David Millar), through a fairly conventional late 70s grab-bag of NZ Contemporary work (thanks Jim) to a rather shrill, quasi-baroque collection of NZ craft (the rest of them). Also, thanks to architect Ian Athfield and Walker, the New Dowse is cursed with confused and awkward spaces, (as we’ve noted before, you know you’re in trouble when you need saying “this way to the galleries.”)

So nobody would say that dragging the New Dowse and its public back to an appreciation of contemporary art will be easy.

Image: Dressing up as animals at the New Dowse