Lara Strongman

Commentary
Laurence Aberhart

Laurence Aberhart

New Zealand artist Laurence Aberhart is internationally regarded for his photographs of unpeopled landscapes and interiors. He photographs places redolent with the weight of time, which he captures with his century-old large-format camera and careful framing. But he’s always taken more spontaneous photographs of people too, particularly in the years he lived in Christchurch and Lyttelton (1975–83) when he photographed his young family, his friends and occasionally groups of strangers. ‘If I lived in a city again,’ he says, ‘I would photograph people. One of the issues is that I even find it difficult to ask people whether I can photograph a building, so to ask to photograph them – I’m very reticent. I also know that after a number of minutes of waiting for me to set cameras up and take exposure readings and so on, people can get rather annoyed. So it’s not a conscious thing, it’s more just an accident of the way I photograph.’

Commentary
Your Hotel Brain

Your Hotel Brain

We recently opened a new collection-based exhibition, Your Hotel Brain. Curated by Lara Strongman, it focuses on the cohort of New Zealand artists who came to national – and in some cases international – prominence in the 1990s. The title of the exhibition is a phrase drawn from Don DeLillo’s epic novel, Underworld, published in 1997. It gestures towards the way that pieces of information float through your mind, checking in and out, everything demanding attention, everything happening all at once – a metaphor for postmodernism in the 1990s and for the increasing slippage of context in the digital era. The 1990s were a time of great social and cultural change in Aotearoa New Zealand, set against a broader backdrop of globalisation and the rise of digital technologies. Artists, as ever, registered these cultural shifts early. We asked a number of people who were working in the arts at the time to recall their experiences of the 1990s.

Notes
Underworld 2 by Tony de Lautour

Underworld 2 by Tony de Lautour

This article first appeared as 'Painting offers a multiverse of symbols' in The Press on 21 June 2017. 

Notes
Your Hotel Brain

Your Hotel Brain

This week we've been installing a new collection exhibition, Your Hotel Brain. It replaces curator Ken Hall's elegant meditation on architecture and memory, Above Ground, in the contemporary collection galleries.

Artist Profile
The Devil’s Blind Spot

The Devil’s Blind Spot

Te Puna o Waiwhetu Christchurch Art Gallery has a long-standing tradition of curating exhibitions of emerging and early-career artists. We do this in order to contribute to the ecology of the local art world, as well as because – quite straightforwardly – we’re interested in the practices of artists at all stages of their careers, and would like to bring the work of outstanding younger artists to wider public attention. The Devil’s Blind Spot is the latest in this ongoing series, but unlike earlier exhibitions, it’s concerned with a single medium – photography.

Artist interview
Not Quite Human

Not Quite Human

Lara Strongman: The title of your new work for the Gallery is Quasi. Why did you call it that?

Ronnie van Hout: Initially it was a working title. Because the work would be outside the Gallery, on the roof, I was thinking of Quasimodo, from Victor Hugo’s The Hunchback of Notre-Dame. I was coming out of a show and research around the idea of the freak, the outsider and things that are rejected—thinking about how even things that are rejected have a relationship to whatever they’ve been rejected by. And I called it Quasi, because it’s a human form that’s not quite human as well. The idea of something that resembles a human but is not quite human.

Notes
Untitled (Taylors Mistake) by William Sutton

Untitled (Taylors Mistake) by William Sutton

This article first appeared on Stuff as 'Modernism by motorbike' on 28 June 2016 and as 'Artist stumbled upon striking scenery on morning motorbike rides' in The Press on 30 June 2016.

Notes
Private lodgings by W.A. Sutton

Private lodgings by W.A. Sutton

Private Lodgings is a portrait of a lost Christchurch building that dates most probably from the 1860s.

When Bill Sutton painted it in 1954, it was an increasingly decrepit boarding house, on the corner of Manchester and Southwark streets, just out of the central city - opposite the much more famous Coker's Hotel.

Artist interview
Silent Patterns

Silent Patterns

When we asked Tony de Lautour to produce a new work for the Bunker—the name Gallery staff give to the small, square elevator building at the front of the forecourt on Montreal Street—he proposed a paint scheme inspired by Dazzle camouflage. Associated with the geometric near-abstraction of the vorticist movement, Dazzle was developed by British and American artists during the First World War to disguise shipping. It was a monumental form of camouflage that aimed not to hide the ship but to break up its mass visually and confuse enemies about its speed and direction. In a time before radar and sonar were developed, Dazzle was designed to disorientate German U-boat commanders looking through their periscopes, and protect the merchant fleets.

Senior curator Lara Strongman spoke with Tony de Lautour in late January 2016.

Notes
The House of Wellbeing

The House of Wellbeing

On Saturday, I spoke at the launch of a major new work of art in public space—Wayne Youle's installation The House of Wellbeing ALL WELCOME, at the CPIT Aoraki campus on Madras Street.

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