Friday, October 25, 2013

What’s in that crate?

One of the big changes to moving art in NZ has been the introduction of the crate. Apart from major exhibitions, right up to the 1980s most art works were travelled round New Zealand wrapped in corrugated card and air freighted or bundled up with rugs in a truck. The introduction of crates has certainly given artworks more protection but it has also immobilised them as bulky crates add up to equally bulky freight costs.

In the late 1970s two other crate-like products appeared that have now become New Zealand art icons, the customized boxes for sculptures by Neil Dawson and cut-outs by Richard Killeen. We were reminded of this when we saw these instantly recognisable Killeen and Dawson works stored ready for auction at Art + Object. Although it's hard to imagine now, when works first appeared presented in this way it seemed like a hugely sophisticated leap in the transport of art. Killeen’s square cut handles cutting into your hand and the sculpted sponge interiors and intriguing holding devises of Dawson’s immaculately crafted boxes remain vivid memories of that period.