Monday, February 29, 2016


Here’s a story we're sorry we missed when we were working up the timeline for the 1987 exhibition When Art Hits the headlines. It front-paged the Otago Evening Star on 26 October 1961 and comes via University of Otago researcher Ali Clarke who tracked down this tale of the Colin McCahon triplets (you can read her original version here)

Over 50 years after pulling the stunt, a couple of ex Otago students admitted to knocking up three copies of Colin McCahon’s Painting 1958. One of that work's claims to fame is that it had shared first prize in the Hays Art Competition in Christchurch the year before to almost universal distain. The co-winners were the more popular Francis Jones and Julian Royd whose reputations have not exactly endured.  Some time after being offered as a gift to the Christchurch Art Gallery and rejected rather publicly, McCahon’s work was put on display in the University of Otago University Student Union.  Some of the students were not impressed in the usual I-could-do-that way and two of them made three copies that they planned to hang with the McCahon. Viewers would then be challenged to pick which was the original.  They saw immediately that it was in fact easy to tell which was the McCahon so they hid it in a broom cupboard to keep the hoax alive.  Lots of laughs at the expense of contemporary art and artists followed until the painting was rehung and the students went back to work. Colin McCahon himself was less than impressed but as the perps were unknown, legal action was ruled out. Although childish, it's still a more benign stunt than the one pulled by the Director of the Dunedin Public Art Gallery 11 years later. He asked the public to paint their own McCahons in the foyer while the Colin McCahon survey show was on in the Gallery. The ‘good’ old days.

Image: the three 'McCahons' as published in the Otago Evening Star (...and thanks for the head's up Z)

Friday, February 26, 2016

Pick and choose

You can tell by their nervous looks and the way their eyes keep flicking side-to-side that curators know that their cultural capital is being seriously eroded. Even in New Zealand we have curators who have to get out there and raise big bucks if they want to do big exhibitions (the no dough, no show policy). That’s a radical change in skills and expectations.  And most institutional curators will also tell you that admin and policy is taking up more and more of their time (looking at you Te Papa). Junior curators, on the other hand, are slowly being reassigned to what is really project management with some writing on the side. 

Now, piling on the pressure, is the recent announcement by MoNA owner/collector David Walsh in Tasmania that he's getting a couple of scientists (evolutionary neurobiologist Mark Changizi and evolutionary psychologist Geoffrey Miller) to curate their next big show. While it's just an extension of the celebrity curator phenomenon (Steve Martin, Madonna, James Franco) with a bit more intellectual heft, it does suggest a future in which anyone can curate for an art institution as long as they have fame or a sexy specialty or ... now here's an idea ... both. 
Image: David Walsh 
COMMENT: Roy Clare 26.02.16: When seeking to adduce evidence of trends in museums/galleries commentators too readily cite David Walsh and MONA. In reality all they show is that if you are a fabulously wealthy owner of a gallery you get to call the shots. Meanwhile the rest of us owe something to our public funders, so we run our places with teams of really great professionals, a clear conscience .... and increasing audiences. 
James Franco at LACMA
Julian Barnes Royal Academy
Peter Greenaway La Louvre
Steve Martin Hammer Museum of Art
Pharrell Williams – Design Exchange
Julian Schnabel – LACMA
Cameron Silver – MOCA Pacific Design Center
Crowd sourced exhibitions - Everywhere

......   It's a thing.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Don Wood 1938-2016

In the history of art dealing in New Zealand the death this week of Don Wood is a big marker. In 1960, when he was in his early 20s, Wood opened The Gallery (shortly after renamed the Ikon Gallery) with Frank Lowe, a fellow architecture student. It was one of the very early dealer galleries in New Zealand focusing on the contemporary art of the time. As examples it was the Ikon Gallery that was the first to show Don Binney’s bird paintings and Pat Hanly’s iconic Figures in light series. 

Wood was also an important early supporter of Colin McCahon who had three exhibitions at the Gallery in its Symonds Street location (it was rather wonderfully situated in the basement of Rationalist House). The impressive line-up included The Wake, the first showing of  Here I give thanks to Mondrian, the Gate painting Waioneke and the large banners Landscape theme and variations specifically designed by McCahon ‘to fill the Ikon'. In 1964 when the gallery shifted to Lorne Street as Ikon Fine Arts McCahon showed his Waterfall series there. 

When Wood sold 19 paintings by Colin McCahon to the American Edward J Danziger he also became a key player in one of the great art mystery stories of the sixties. Danziger, an ex movie producer (more Roger Corman that Goldwyn-Mayer) turned hotel owner, took the paintings out of the country to decorate his chain of hotels in the Gordon Hotel Group. The Bellini paintings vanished and became something of an El Dorado. Dealers would trawl the US in search of the lost mother lode until Australian based art dealer Martin Browne painstakingly located most of them. 

After a few brief years at the centre of NZ's emergent contemporary art world, the Ikon Fine Arts closed in 1964. Wood continued his involvement in art dealing most importantly working alongside Peter Webb, another of the heroes of art dealing in New Zealand. You can get a feel for Wood's architectural background, a field he worked in for most of his life, here in Wystan Curnow's account of his negotiations with Billy Apple over proposed changes to the Peter Webb Gallery in the 1970s. As well as being a patient man, Wood built up a collection of contemporary art and there is a rare opportunity to see his taste in action via this Art + Object catalogue that featured a good part of it.

Image: center, Rationalist House the site of the Ikon Gallery as it is today

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Chimpanzee can, chimpanzee do

It’s now well known that OTN readers can’t get enough of stories related to chimpanzees bending their skills to the art thing (god only knows we've imposed a few rules and even tried to call a stop to it, but new material just keeps on turning up from OTN readers around the globe). This time it’s the story of Peter who not only painted but also got caught up in a scam to demean chimpanzees as respected members of the art community. You can read the full story here but basically it’s: Swedish chimpanzee Peter gets name changed to Pierre Brassau, paints pictures, paintings are sold in gallery, people are fooled ('Brassau paints with powerful strokes, but also with clear determination'), hoax is revealed. That is all.

Images: Top, Peter. Bottom Peter’s art (Thanks P)

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Head home

Word from Australia is that a new head of art has been appointed at Te Papa. The new hire is New Zealander Charlotte Davy who has been with the Art Gallery of New South Wales in Sydney on and off for about 14 years, most recently as Head of Exhibitions. Again it is a rehire of a former staff member, Davy was Te Papa’s Collections manager from 2001 to 2003. Her predecessor as Head of Art, Jonathan Mane-Wheoki, was an historian and curator whereas Davy is firmly on the management side. She rose through the ranks as a registrar and collection manager but also has considerable experience with managing and producing exhibitions.

This background could fit in neatly with Te Papa’s current crush on developing touring exhibitions that could generate cash. The Economist reckons there are about 3,500 museums in China alone and that 100 new ones are built there each year. If Te Papa does become an exhibition maker and broker for content-hungry Asia, it will certainly need someone with a high level of skill in negotiation, process and policy. And that 'someone' would also need solid networks in North America and Europe to access content. 

Heading up Te Papa’s art division isn’t very taxing at present. There are no big NZ exhibitions on the slate (the last was Rita Angus in 2008) and no touring shows planned, this year anyway. A Head of Art hard into management (sounds weird but there it is) could fit better with Te Papa than a curatorial heavyweight.

Te Papa is not an easy place to be an advocate of the visual arts. Even Jonathan Mane-Wheoki who had a credibility overload never really managed to get much traction; a scrappy new gallery space cobbled out of the old library (the second time the art section has been shoved into space designed for books) and ongoing over-promoted thematic rearrangements of the permanent collection thinly disguised as curatorial exhibitions. Looking at her past achievements Charlotte Davy is unlikely to find much to interest her in that sort of curatorial housekeeping so all eyes on what projects she picks up.

Monday, February 22, 2016

After the fall

Art Fairs can be pretty tough on dealer galleries. The galleries have to apply to be included and at many fairs there are more dealers than slots. Primo Australian Gallery Rosylyn Oxley9 had the ignominy a few years back of being dropped by Art Basel after more than a decade of regular attendance. They're back in Art Basel Hong Kong but still it stings. The Art Fairs of course say the culling is in the interests of standards. We only have the best of the best is the usual claim, but what if the Best of the Best don’t want to play?

Ask the Melbourne Art Fair. Once an unstoppable force on the Australian art scene, it has just been announced that the 2016 Fair is a no go. Why? Turns out three of the big names in Australian art dealing - Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Tolarno Galleries, and Anna Schwartz Gallery - have all said thanks but no thanks. The idea that three galleries could bring down a well-established art fair (there were 90 other applicants for slots) is astonishing. Of course the Melbourne Art Fair has taken some hits. They’ve struggled to attract top end international galleries, there’s been criticism of standards and the launch of the Sydney Art Fair a couple of years back didn’t help. The alternate art fair Spring 1883 which might have been seen as a sign of symbiotic energy instead felt like a flesh wound to an impala already showing a pronounced limp. With that sort of pressure together with an increasingly crowded art fair calendar it’s either going to make you strong or bring you to your knees. The question now is whether Spring 1883 will go it alone. So far there is nothing on their web site to suggest otherwise.

None of this will be going unnoticed in the Auckland art world with an art fair slated for late May. Galleries are currently being selected with the Auckland Art Fair looking for dealers who, ‘show great art that actively contributes in some way to the current art conversation of the wider Pacific’. The selectors haven’t exactly got their hands tied. The number of galleries is, as usual, restricted to around 40 and it sounds as though about 25 of them will be NZ-based. In a recent interview in the Australian Art Collector mag, Hayley White and Stephanie Post (who run the rejigged AAF) were careful to mention the main NZ dealers and their artists: Gow Langsford (3 times), Hopkinson Mossman (4), Michael Lett (5), Starkwhite (3) and Jonathan Smart (1). A be-nice policy is probably being implemented at this very moment. Hey, maybe the dealers should have their own VIP lounge like the collectors do? Ok ... on reflection ... maybe not.

Image: the Melbourne Art Fair, not looking on top form for a quite a while (Thanks for the head’s up T)

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Just when you thought it was safe to get back in the water...

... another Raft of the Medusa lookalike. This one by photographer Joel-Peter Witkin

Friday, February 19, 2016

A Mafia’s Marfa

It’s been a long seven years since we last posted a picture of a Russian grave with a carved feature sculpture on OTN. Last time it was a floppy-disk computer. This time it’s a vehicle emerging Michelangelo-style from a chunk of rock to accompany the member of the Russian Mafia who owned it. You can see more mafia operatives featured on amazing Russian grave sculptures here.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Church news

A couple of years ago we posted on Ernst Plischke's St Mary's church in Taihape. Each time we've driven up the hill hoping to get inside it's been closed but a few Sundays ago we got lucky (ok for church people finding one open on a Sunday might not seem all that lucky, but still). Although it has been claimed that the ‘building’s spaciousness reminds one of the immensity of God and the universe’ you'd need quite a bit of religion to get there although it is certainly spacious. Plischke travelled in Europe before starting on his design and came back with visions of St Peter's Basilica in Taihape. The commissioners were somewhat alarmed and in the end a standard basilica format was settled on. The large uncluttered interior remains impressive and the starkness is amplified by the light from circular windows high on each of the walls. A large ceramic crucifix that could only have been made in the fifties was the work of Martin Roestenburg. He also made the giant statue of Our Lady of Lourdes overlooking Paraparaumu. It was Roestenburg who commissioned from Europe it seems the 14 paintings for the stations of the cross. They are surprisingly muscular and direct renditions of the well known story. Here on OTN:ARCHITECTURE we've put up all our photographs of the building inside and out along with a selection of the paintings. If you can tell us who the Stations' painter was we’d be interested to hear from you. The signature looks like N Frey.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

One day in the art museum director’s office

Director: We need new ways of making money…I mean attracting more visitors.

Curator: I’ve had a few thoughts.

D: So what do marketing have to say?

Marketing Manager: It’s a two ‘I’s situation. We need to pull our audience from Independent to Dependent.

D: Don’t you mean to Interdependent?

MM: Exactly, the two Is. We also need to move from demand to participate.

C: I have a few ideas.

D: So how do we do this participation thing?

MM: Living art. It's the way to go. It’s the two ‘P’s - Placing the punters in the picture.

Isn’t that three Ps?

C: I have a couple of ideas.

D: I suppose 'Placing' doesn’t really count …so yes I get it…two Ps…clever. Now how do we do it?

MM: We build a famous painting in three dimensions and let people live in it.

C: That’s a completely stupid idea.

D: I hear what you say but we’re trying to be positive here…. Blue skies ....

MM: No, no it’s OK. ‘In the realm of ideas everything depends on enthusiasm’. Cookie Lyon said that. Empire, season one.

C: (sarcastically) So did Goethe. Late eighteenth century.

D: Sure, sure… but what painting do we build?

MM: Van Gogh’s bedroom.

D: Incredible. Awesome.

C: (even more sarcastically) Yeah, awesome… why don’t you put it on Airbnb?

And that is what they did.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016


It’s not often one of NZ's public art museums goes …um…public with a point of view on contemporary art but Natasha Conland has given it a good go. She has stepped out with a 20-strong selection of painters in her exhibition Necessary Distraction. It's designed to explore the question, ‘What can painting offer that other art forms cannot?’ There's been some critical writing on the exhibition (The Pantograph Punch and EyeContact) but we were also particularly interested in what this very large contemporary show might say about Chartwell and the Auckland Art Gallery as collectors. Of course as the Chartwell collection is on long-term loan to Auckland Art Gallery but how this relationship plays out is of special interest to the representation of contemporary art.

Some numbers around Necessary Distraction:

55 percent of the artists are women

The average age of all the artists is 42 with 25 percent of them over the age of 50
The average age of the women is 46 and of the men 41
4 of the women are over 50 years old, 2 are over 50 and one is over 70
2 of the men are over 50
Of the artists under 40, 5 of them are women and 4 of them are men

25 percent are represented by Hopkinson Mossman
15 percent by Ivan Anthony
10 percent by Michael Lett
10 percent by Anna Miles
10 percent by Gow Langsford 

30 percent by six different dealers.

Chartwell has bought work by 50 percent of the artists in the exhibition and has 47 paintings by them

The Auckland Art Gallery has works by 20 percent of the artists in Necessary Distraction with 15 paintings by them in its collection

40 percent of the artists in Necessary Distraction have no works in the collections of either the Auckland Art Gallery or Chartwell

The painter in Necessary Distraction with the most works in the two collections is Simon Ingram with 12 in Chartwell but none in the Auckland Art Gallery collection. Next is Dan Arps with 8 works in Chartwell and again none in the Auckland Art Gallery collection

Two artists (Barbara Tuck and Saskia Leek) are represented in the Auckland Art Gallery Collection but not in Chartwell. Eight artists are represented in the Chartwell collection but have not been collected by the Auckland Art Gallery collection (Dan Arps, Andrew Barber, Stella Corkery, Simon Ingram, Patrick Lundberg, Oliver Perkins, Kim Pieters and Jeena Shin).

Monday, February 15, 2016


In the real Auckland Art World you hardly ever see Simon Denny doing a twirl in a tutu and, while the Gambia Castle team was fun, it wasn't as much fun as it seems to be in this hilarious vid posted on the Canapé Canopy web site by Auckland artist Li-Ming Hu (aka Li-Ming Jimi Hendrix). All the Castle crew are there with Sarah Hopkinson (standing in for Fame’s Lydia Grant) urging them on - ‘you’ve got big dreams, you want fame’. It’s part of a Canape´ Canopy project and a chance to live that dream inspired by all the fame that has gone before. We’re assuming that the Canapé people are also giving a sly nod in their name to LA’s Chateau Shatto run by Australian Liv Barrett. You can check out what Daphne Simons and Mark O'Donnell (the people behind Canopy Canapé) are up to by going down Auckland Central's Canada Lane off Canada Street. You’ll know when you get there, it’s the ‘wooden door with barbed wire and plants around it.’ It being an outdoor venue the Canapé Canopy site also thoughtfully provides a daily weather report.
Video: Casting call from Li-Ming Hu via Vimeo

Friday, February 12, 2016

The inside (and outside) story

To end the week we’ve put photos from four more studio visits up on OTN:STUDIO. Hard to believe that it was nearly four years since Don Driver died and to visit the studio now is a very different experience. To protect the work sheets of plastic and plain old bedsheets now act as shrouds giving the studio an even more otherworldly appearance. This set of photographs was taken in August last year. Of all the artists we have visited none has been more generous or welcoming than Peter Robinson. You can now see photographs from a dozen different visits including this one that's new to the site taken in September 2009. Earlier still, another look inside Lillian Budd’s studio in June 2003 and as we subtitle the site ‘artists in and out of the studio’, photos of Campbell Patterson setting up his exhibition at Michael Lett in August last year.

Image: covered artwork in Don Driver’s New Plymouth studio, August 2015

Thursday, February 11, 2016


Since the day back in 2008 when et al. sent us Hardy Blechman’s remarkable book Disruptive Pattern Material: An Encyclopedia of Camouflage, OTN has had a lively interest in camouflage and its artistic offspring (you can see OTN's Collected Camo below). And now Tony de Lautour has taken up the hide-me craft and applied it to the odd bunker shape that sits outside the Christchurch Art Gallery. Just what the architects were up to when one of them said, ‘let’s make a square concrete box as an entrance to the car park and stick it right in front of the Gallery’ and the others said, ‘yeah, let’s do that’ we might never know. But now de Lautour’s sly commentary has lifted it into something worth looking at; ain’t art grand? 

LATER: A GREAT COMMENT FROM RALPH PAINE: Gertrude Stein: “I well remember at the beginning of the war being with Picasso on the Boulevard Raspail when the first camouflaged truck passed. It was at night, we had heard of camouflage but we had not seen it and Picasso, amazed, looked at it and then cried out -- Yes it is we who made it, that is Cubism!” Doubtless an epoch-making change in the composition of the world was taking place and Picasso is the first artist to register this fact. Stein goes on even to suggest (perversely?) that the entire First World War had been an exercise in Cubism. And today?

Images: left, dazzle design for a World War I war ship designed to ‘dazzle more to mislead the enemy about a ship's course and so to take up a poor firing position’ and right, Tony de Lautour takes a shot at the car park entrance

OTN: the Collected Camo
Ship shape 

Camo site 
War paint
Hidden in plain sight
Camo artists 

A merging artist 
Koons Camo

Wednesday, February 10, 2016


It’s OTN Quiz time with a big prize for the winner (aka one of the last OTN painting horse badges). This week you have to match the painter in the Auckland Art Gallery’s exhibition Necessary Distraction with the curatorial statement about their work. Step up, step up, join the fun. And please, no pushing, there’s plenty of room for everyone.

Which comment matches which artist:

‘a document of an unwitnessed performance’

‘belong to a tradition of ideas’

‘like representations of objects and ideas’

‘an investigation into the ethics of well-being’

‘captured and encased a long-held interest in ideologies'

'act as comments on communications in the digital age'

‘invites viewers in, not to offer continuity’

‘combines intelligences with sympathy for the material and its history’

‘asks us to question our relationship with our natural surroundings’

‘forces us to contend with the work across time’

‘compresses the differences between the thing that is not of the room and the room itself’

‘adopts the characteristics of formal masks’

‘fool us into thinking there is more structure than what is evident’

‘the pattern of an anorak as a compositional template’

‘reverting the digital images of painting back into a painted form’

‘is contingent on the space and the artist’s decision making now, but future potential remains’

‘the idea that images and gestures have been decoded and fragmented resulting in a reduction of authenticity’

‘a metaphor for painting's oldest provision – the window in the room’

‘give the impression of an evolved microclimate’

‘call occasionally on a line or a form to mark out real possibilities’

The artists: Anoushka Akel, Dan Arps, Nick Austin, Andrew Barber, Kirstin Carlin, Stella Corkery, James Cousins, Nicola Farquhar, Emma Fitts, Julian Hooper, Simon Ingram, Milli Jannides, Saskia Leek, Patrick Lundberg, Oliver Perkins, Kim Pieters, Jeena Shin, Ngatai Taepa, Barbara Tuck, Adrienne Vaughan

Image: Painted Bronze by Jasper Johns 1960, collection MoMA

Tuesday, February 09, 2016


Thanks R

A hanging offence

At the formal opening of the Christchurch Art Gallery last week (which by the way was a model for how to reintroduce a cultural institution to its diverse communities after a long break) there was one rather curious aside in the speeches. Neil Roberts, who was a long-serving curator at the Gallery and is now an art consultant, got a bit back at him. He had apparently dissed the current curators in a letter to the editor of the Christchurch Press. So what was his problem? Roberts was upset that the Petrus Van der Velden painting The Dutch funeral of 1872 had been exhibited without its frame. Emotions can run high in Christchurch, especially as the painting in question has always been one of the City's loved 'old masters'. For Roberts the de-framing of the work was an insult to the artist (though you’d think it was probably more of an insult to the framer). In reality, if anyone is to blame, it's probably the Italian architect and exhibition designer Carlo Scarpa. It was Scarpa who stripped elaborate large frames off historical paintings in an effort to bring them into the present so we could take a fresh look at them rather than rely on the usual masterpiece signals of gold and carving. While it may have been been provocative to remove the Van der Velden frame and hang The Dutch funeral next to Colin McCahon’s Blind V, it’s a provocation of the best kind and brings both works into an interesting and useful dialogue. Besides nearby are enough other paintings with elaborate gold frames to remind us how the abandonment of close hanging and the rise of the white cube has removed much of the reason for creating them in the first place.

Image: left, Colin McCahon Blind V and right, Petrus Van der Velden The Dutch funeral hanging in the Christchurch Art Gallery

Saturday, February 06, 2016

Chewing the Turner

Two British comedians in drag taking the piss out of art, what more could you ask for on a Saturday morning?

Friday, February 05, 2016

Fall guy

Big has always been…um…big on OTN. When we saw that this jumbo-sized (36 meters high) statue of Mao was being built in China last year with a price tag of just under $700,000, of course we tagged it for a post. How quickly things change. No sooner was the major Mao finished than it was internationally mocked so that just weeks later, mumbling about ‘lack of registration and approval’, local officials had the golden giant taken down.

The giant-statue-of-me business is a tough one. As a rule of thumb, the more tyrannical you are as a leader, the better your chances of ending up nose down in the mud. And usually with the added indignity of a mocking crowd to celebrate your fall. The International Business Times did a useful round-up of the fallen recently, you can see it here.

Thursday, February 04, 2016

The space age

Has the venue for NZ's next Venice outing in 2017 has been nailed? A couple of OTN readers have suggested so. We do know Commissioner Carruthers (hereon ComCar) was always keen to get a venue that could give some certainty to NZ going to Venice on the long term, given the possibility that Creative NZ could bail on major funding in the future. Now it sounds as though his desire for a permanent space within the Arsenale has been fulfilled. But, we're not talking King Hit venue like Simon Denny at the Marciana Library or tourist trap like Bill Culbert's Istituto Santa Maria della Pietà and it would be behind the Biennale's paywall. If it's sharing the building that the Vatican and Turkey were in last year, it’s somewhat off the beaten track but given ComCar 's focus on continuity for the future it’s probably the safe bet. Ideal of course for 2017 as Lisa Reihana's projection with its complex technical backup will suit a more conventional space. The other possibility CNZ and ComCar might have had eyes on is one of the spaces right down the end of the Arsenale exhibition hall, but let’s not go there (no-one else does). The downside of the Arsenale overall is that most of the recently made available spaces are around the back of the huge exhibition hall and most people get there via the long trek through the acres of art that go to make a Venice curator’s exhibition. We’ve been tinkering with the venue thing since we first went to Venice in 2001 with mixed results, not all of them the fault of the venue. Will moving into the Arsenale be the best way to go? It depends on how you weight the logic of pragmatism against the serendipity of opportunity.

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Let one thousand garden gnomes bloom

In the eighties there was a game played by art gallery people called ‘One thousand gnomes’. A popular theory at the time (and this probably still holds good) was that one gnome was unexhibitable, one hundred gnomes was impressive but no more, one thousand gnomes on the other hand…. From that starting point the game was to devise the title of an exhibition of 1000 Gnomes that captured the styles of the various institutions around the country. This set (via a dot-matrix printer!) turned up the other day. It says a lot about the times. Some of the art institutions have since changed their names, but you get the idea.

Auckland Art Gallery

Manawatu Art Gallery
Gnomes: methods and materials

Sarjeant Gallery
Gnomes - a survey exhibition

Govett-Brewster Art Gallery
The Gnome Project

National Art Gallery
Gnome / Gnomic

Dowse Art Gallery
Gnomes: a celebration

Bishop Suter Art Gallery
1000 Nelson Gnomes

Robert McDougall Art Gallery
The Gnome in Canterbury
Dunedin Art Gallery
Buick Randall: a gnome maker and his circle

Tuesday, February 02, 2016


At OTN we’ve always been great fans of reading the entrails. Back a ways a haruspex used to interpret the divine will by inspecting the entrails of a sacrificial animal. So here for you all to interpret are some Te Papa's entrails as revealed in the media recently. 

•   Te Papa will take no international touring art exhibitions in 2016. This will be the first year without such an exhibition since the museum opened.

•   There will be no temporary exhibitions for the next five years unless they are from the permanent collection.

•   Te Papa is to collaborate with Weta Workshop to create experience based touring exhibitions to hire out to the global ‘museum’ market. Chief executive Rick Ellis has said that these touring plans will ‘help shape the museum for another stellar year in 2016’.

•   Rick Ellis also believes that the 1.56 million visitors this year were ‘driven to the museum by the "destination exhibitions" Tyrannosaurs, Air New Zealand and Gallipoli’

•   Te Papa has made it clear that it recognises ‘the importance of the Chinese market.’

•   To build links with Australia, Ellis had assigned ‘senior leaders to each state’ (‘Art, I’m giving you Western Australia…the bottom bit’).

What can it all mean for art at Te Papa? Prize for the best answer.

LATER: Meanwhile back in the rest of the world. 'Whatever the motivation, modern and, especially, contemporary art has become so big a draw that few museums can afford to do without it.' – Calvin Tomkins in the New Yorker

Image: bronze instructional liver from Etruria (You can find instructions on how to interpret your own entrails (sic) here)

Monday, February 01, 2016

Winners and losers

Auckland is closed today (Anniversary Day) and of course Artspace is too but behind those closed doors there's a major reno going on. The sign on the door says Artspace will be open again tomorrow and it is certainly going to be a case of more-open-than-usual. The old Nga Taonga Sound & Vision space facing East Street has now become part of Artspace itself as an expansive open area for reading / resources / offices. No more wondering if you dare go through the glass door at the back of the gallery and venture past the toilets and into that office where everyone spins around as you come through the door. OK, some fashion stores do the intimidation thing better, but not many. We're told that Adnan Yildis, Artspace's newish director, figured out how to rejig Artspace a couple of hours after he first saw it. Now, thanks to Sue Gardiner acting as über fundraiser, his idea has been realised just a year after he took up the job. The only loser in the revamp was Oscar Enberg. Having taken on the Christmas Holidays slot, he might have expected his show to be on view for longer than usual, but when we got there it had been ‘Christoed’ to protect it while the builders and painters were doing their thing. Unfortunately it is squeezed at the other end by the opening of Fiona Clarke’s THE BILL to mark the 30th anniversary of Homosexual Law Reform in NZ. No one would suggest mucking around with that important anniversary but maybe the same energies that are galvanising Artspace will find a temporary venue so Enberg’s exhibition can get its full run.

Images: Looks like art, Oscar Enberg’s installation under wraps during the Artspace re-fit.