As I write this, I’m still smiling with pleasure and pride at the huge success of the Gallery Foundation’s fundraising drive for our own work by Ron Mueck. Wonderful in its own right, it’s amazing to finish the 2017 calendar year knowing a sculpture by Mueck is now on its way to join the other four ‘great works’ for Christchurch.
What is ‘dark matter’? For theoretical physicists it is matter that cannot be directly observed but whose existence is nevertheless scientifically calculable – productively present yet simultaneously invisible. In a similar vein, the everyday phrase ‘dark matter’ describes objects, conditions and situations that harbour unease or trauma. Trauma that is often concealed, repressed, or buried. Both definitions are active in Ann Shelton’s mid-career review exhibition Dark Matter, and they provide a rich point of entry into this compelling collection of her photographic work. These are photographs that bristle with intensity and refuse to let their subjects die a quiet archival death.
In September 2017, Gallery director Jenny Harper, curator Felicity Milburn and Jo Blair, of the Gallery Foundation’s contracted development services, Brown Bread, went to London, taking a group of supporters who received a very special tour of the city’s art highlights. While there, they further developed the Foundation’s new London Club. Recently they sat down together in Jenny’s office…
This work of art paints connections for me – to people, to this landscape and this place. My great-great-grandparents John Henry Menzies and Francis Elizabeth Menzies settled here in the 1870s. I was intrigued to discover that, way back then, the Christchurch parochial attitude was already well established. When he purchased the land John Henry encountered difficulty at the land office; he wrote, ‘A map was the first step. I was a stranger. You must not, even now be a stranger in Canterbury. Not one of the clerks would take any notice of me. It was entirely a case of favouritism.’
When does history start? What is the time span of the present? When do the margins of the contemporary begin to dissolve into the past? Our collection-based exhibition, Your Hotel Brain, looks at a group of New Zealand artists who came to prominence in the 1990s. Collectively their work explores ideas that have been critical to art-making in Aotearoa New Zealand over the past twenty years. Identity politics, unreliable autobiographies and references to a broad spectrum of visual culture – including Black Sabbath’s music, prison tattoos, automotive burn-outs and our no-smoking legislation – traverse the contested ground of recent New Zealand art, linking the just-past with the emerging present. A selection of works from the exhibition are reproduced here.