31 July 2007

The art of war

Archives NZ today launched the War Art Online collection - a digitisation project of war art held in the Archives collection. So far 600 works of the 1500 work collection are available, with more coming online over time.

Interestingly, the site embraces user interaction by offering user contributed comments and tags.

Also interesting is the archive Newsreel clips of war artists (scroll to bottom of page) -Weekly Review No. 133 is particularly good: it's a fascinating snapshot of NZ's attitude towards artists in the 40s.

Pic: Goya: The Disasters of War.

Edit: Best-of-3's far more qualified analysis here

30 July 2007

Provincial uprising (now in its 4th decade)

Congratulations to the GBAG for winning the Best Art Gallery section of the Listener's latest NZ's Best poll. But the whole "Who'd have thought it of Taranaki" line is getting a bit tired, particularly given that it's been there for 37 years.

Expanding foam

There was a watershed moment in hardware stores nationwide about 15 years ago when expanding foam filler became publicly available. I, along with most other budding artist types of the day, rushed out and bought cans, convinced by Selley's marketing material that we'd be creating entire walls of polystyrene from a single aerosol can of the stuff.

Sadly the reality was't quite so flash - it didn't quite have the expansive properties I'd hoped for (though maybe that's not such a bad thing given the size of my flat on the Terrace), was awful to work with, and pretty much impossible to get out of your hair.

But a whole heap of artists persisted with it, and we've seen some mixed results. Peter Robinson springs to mind. As does Judy Darragh. But the best outcome I've come across has to be Hany Armanious' show at City that closed yesterday. Entire sculptures were formed from expanding foam - which I'm hoping for the artist's sake has got a lot easier to deal with.

Oddly though, it was the non-foam based works that had the greatest impact - particularly the substantial Mud Brick Pool Cue work. Quite brilliant.

How's that for a lengthy and painful segue into an incredibly brief review.
Left pic: Peter Robinson @ DPAG
Right pic: Hany Armanious @ Roslyn Oxley

24 July 2007

There goes the inheritance

Dozens of "unique and irreplacable" paintings by leading New Zealand artists have been destroyed in a courier truck fire: NZ Herald story

The apparent cause was an arcing battery on a mobility scooter, also in the truck. Not content with terrorising able bodied pedestrians, it would seem the scooters have now turned on art.

23 July 2007

Please, no tongue.

Reported in the Dominion Post today:

Charges have been brought against a woman who allegedly kissed a painting by American artist Cy Twombly, smudging the bone-white canvas with her lipstick, French judicial officials said at the weekend. Police arrested the woman after she kissed the work on Friday. She is to be tried in an Avignon court on August 16 for "damage to a work of art"


Thirty-nine people reading or working at a library in southwest China have been poisoned after breathing in carbon dioxide leaking from a fire-extinguisher.

Take that anyone who thinks the arts are not a contact sport!

Pic: Cy Twombley, from Quattro Stagioni (A Painting in Four Parts), Quattro Stagioni: Inverno 1993-4, Collection of the Tate.

Big things 3: Eltham's Cheese

It's a water tank. Painted to look like cheese. Really puts Eltham on the map.

Big things 2: Manaia's Loaf of Bread

Bread Capital might be a bit of a bold claim, but at 9am on a midwinter's Sunday morning, when you're thawing out from 2 hours in the surf and 20 minutes walk back across the fields to your car at Green Meadows, warm fresh bread from Yarrows is mighty fine indeed.

Big things 1: Hawera's Cow

To be honest I'm always a little underwhelmed by this one - I always remember it being bigger than it is - though it does mark New Zealand's first revolving restaurant (based on a milking shed platform) which has since closed, along with the associated dairy museum (featuring a simulated tanker experience)!

Desk Jockeys

A concept I've always found interesting is cost of entry. Essentially, it's the set of barriers, real or perceived, that people encounter in that split second when they decide to enter (or not) a business. A decision to go into Hugo Boss or Hallensteins, for example, is based on a complex matrix of perceptions and designs - how much money do I want to spend, will the staff be rude to me because I'm not wearing a bunch of labels, does the signage draw me in, can I get in without confrontation that will make me feel bad for just looking...

In the case of dealer galleries, there's an even more complex set of factors that go into justifying the cost of entry. Does the gallery look open (I've been standing in open galleries when people have walked in and asked that), do I have to understand the art, will people laugh at me because I don't wear a black turtleneck, my child/cat/self could do that, are they taking the piss with their $30,000 price tags, I'm scared of the empty white box...

Consequently, with the shifting of most of the Wellington dealer galleries in the last couple of years, it's been really interesting to look at how the spaces have been designed, and in particular how the dealer's desks have been configured - whether they confront, invite, or ignore the viewer, how they're placed in relation to the works, where they sit in the flow of the room (little known fact that NZ viewers always move to the left in a new retail environment - unless dissuaded from doing so - which is why supermarkets always have you entering at the right), how much they show or hide from the customer - both papers and the dealer themselves.

New York photographer Andy Freeberg captures a range of gallery desks in the burgeoning dealer market in Chelsea that I find fascinating - clearly there's not too much concern about high costs of entry presented by the dehumanised white box, or the perception - wrong or otherwise - that contemporary art is elitist and impersonal.

19 July 2007

So sad.

After many years of mostly faithful service, the wee iBook has reached a critical state of health, with all manner of memory overloading issues, despite culling hundreds of files. It seems elaborate plans to take over the world eat a lot of memory, particularly when made with InDesign.

17 July 2007


Apparently the above image nicely sums up business (the stock exchange), networking (boatshed), and the pool of great ideas that is inherent in Wellington business communications (the sleepy lagoon). At least that's what the people looking to purchase the image to use on their new website are saying. The internet. Used for commerce. Fascinating.

12 July 2007

The new currency

This whole new job/new skills thing has resulted in an interesting tradeoff - coffee for information. It seems a fairer trade if I ply people with coffee while picking their brain.

As a result, my caffeine consumption has skyrocketed of late. Not that'd you'd notice by my lack of posting here. One day I'll get round to setting these knowledge cafe things up for the arts and biking advocacy communities...