With the death of Julie King late in 2018, art and art history in Aotearoa New Zealand lost one of its great champions and major scholars. Julie was born in Yorkshire and grew up and was educated in Alnwick, Northumberland; she moved to Christchurch in 1975 to take up a role lecturing in the newly formed art history department at the University of Canterbury. She retired three decades later, having pioneered the teaching of New Zealand art in Canterbury.
Artist William Wegman has been photographing his Weimaraners in endless humanoid situations for more than four decades. Starting with Man Ray in the 1970s, Fay Ray in the 1980s and her subsequent oﬀspring ever since, Wegman’s most popular artistic foil has been his pet dogs. For a number of reasons, this has occasionally meant his work has been thought of as naïve or sentimental – a trivial comic enterprise not too dissimilar to Anne Geddes’s notorious baby photos.
Early in 2017, Professor John Simpson, the former head of the School of Fine Arts at the University of Canterbury, approached the Gallery’s then director, Jenny Harper, with a proposition: he had been considering the future of the art collection he had accumulated over the past six decades, and wished to know whether the Gallery would be interested in selecting a group of works for a gift. My colleague Ken Hall and I visited John one afternoon in March. It quickly became apparent to us that the collection was signiﬁcant and that the oﬀer was particularly generous. Interestingly, we discovered that the works variously represented John’s own artistic interests and his national and international artworld connections. As such, they told a story of art and art history that usefully expanded the local account.
I’ve been conscious of Riga since the 1980s when I organised an exhibition of the work of Australian artist Imants Tillers for the former National Art Gallery in Wellington. Although born in Sydney, Latvian was spoken at Tillers’s home and the city’s name features from time-to-time in his work, including the large multiple-canvas board painting bought for the NAG collection – Diaspora (1992). But my awareness of Latvia’s politics and past history was minimal until my visit.
It was with much sadness that the staff of Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū heard of the sudden death of local art historian Julie King in early December. Julie had developed a close relationship with the Gallery over the years, not only as a curator, researcher, writer, speaker and key member of the Friends of Christchurch Art Gallery, but also as a regular visitor to exhibitions, talks and events.
In November 2017, Simon Denny’s The Founder’s Paradox opened at Michael Lett Gallery in Auckland, the first solo exhibition Denny had made specifically for New Zealand audiences in several years. His starting point for the project was local: the news, broken by New Zealand Herald journalist Matt Nippert in early 2017, that the billionaire tech investor and Donald Trump supporter Peter Thiel was in fact a New Zealand citizen.
Take yourself on a flight of fancy with Jess Johnson and Simon Ward’s latest artist project. Be in to win flights and accommodation for you and three mates to Singapore, thanks to Singapore Airlines. To be in to win, just visit the Gallery and take a photo in our custom Jess Johnson designed selfie booth (located in the Bayleys Knight Frank Foyer).