Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Show and tell

Artists are heading to Wellington as the City Gallery installs its latest Prospect exhibition. This time the curator is Kate Montgomery who has a solid track record in both curating and organizing exhibitions. A real shame the City Gallery has lost her to Creative NZ (good news for them though) after such a short run. 

It’s not often that we get a serious curated group show in Wellington and the list of artists is impressive: Eve Armstrong, Ruth Buchanan, Fiona Connor, Simon Denny, Selina Foote, Jacqueline Fraser, Robert Hood, Fiona Jack, Patrick Lundberg/Roman Mitch, Dane Mitchell, Kate Newby, Ava Seymour, Sriwhana Spong, Peter Trevelyan and John Ward Knox. It's hard to believe that only three of them have dealer representation in Wellington, although that in itself probably influenced Montgomery. One thing this selection does do however is put up a big challenge to most of our university art schools and to how well they are doing. 

First up, a big round of applause for the Elam School of Fine Arts (University of Auckland) that will dominate Prospect. Twelve Eleven out of the 15 artists in the show are graduates. Trouble is that doesn't leave a lot of kudos for any of the others. Ilam has just two artists included and even to get there you have to let them share Peter Trevelyan with Massey. AUT also has two (Mitchell and Jack) and Massey only the one. For the other seven art schools in NZ it’s a no show. 

Sure Prospect is only one exhibition but given Montgomery’s reputation and the stated aim of the exhibition being to find “artists producing some of the most thought provoking and confident work today” it's a big red flag for a lot of our art educators. No doubt it will be brushed off as one person’s opinion but the fact is that this exhibition comes at the very time potential students and their parents are weighing up which institution to sign up to and, even more meaningfully, pay for. Their future prospects in fact.
Image: Gold in a pan
COMMENT: Melissa wrote: "Hi, I thought I'd just point out that Fiona Jack and Dane Mitchell are AUT grads - still nominal, but bringing the total for AUT up a little"