Commentary
Identities of Journey and Return

Identities of Journey and Return

It was the novelty of seeing white people rendered by a Japanese artist that tickled me when I first saw Utagawa Sadahide’s woodblock prints of foreigners in Yokohama in the 1860s. There’s something slightly clumsy about the Westerners’ exaggerated noses and the forced rounding of their eyes. You can sense, in these images, the artist’s struggle to detach himself from the conventions of Japanese art and beauty; his lines waver here, unlike his assertive depictions of long, flat Japanese faces in earlier prints.

Commentary
The C-Word

The C-Word

It’s been a very strange time. We’ve spent the last month or so asking after each other’s bubbles, and imploring people we barely know to stay safe. Depending on your beliefs, this was the month that the world demonstrated that we could put the interests of people above those of finance, or the end of freedom. Everyone, in every indus­try and every sector of every society has been affected in some way. But our core business is art, and we’re very conscious of the effects of a global shutdown on artists. It’s too early to know what changes this will bring to our sector, so we’re concentrating on the here and now. If your life is focused on making art, how are you going? We asked eighteen New Zealand artists to send us a picture of their lockdown studio set-up, and asked them a few simple questions.

What’s your Covid-19 studio set-up? Is it the same as pre-lockdown or are you in something more makeshift?

How are you finding this time? Is it hard, or is it a gift of time, or maybe a bit of both?

What are you finding essential during lockdown? Is there a piece of equipment/view/song you couldn’t have lived without?

Here are their responses.

Commentary
Where in the World? Placing New Zealand in the Pacific

Where in the World? Placing New Zealand in the Pacific

“It is a strange fact that New Zealand can be literally all at sea in the Pacific Ocean, and yet pay that ocean, and neighbours and relations within it, so little attention.”
— Damon Salesa, Sāmoan historian

“… this small and very British country is producing some honest and lively artists whose eyes open upon a land not at all like England, but whose minds are formed in the living tradition of Western culture.”
Helen Hitchings, New Zealand gallerist

Commentary
The Seas are Rising: So Are We

The Seas are Rising: So Are We

In Te Ao Māori the whakataukī “He toka tū moana” pays homage to the rock that withstands the sea as a metaphor for human strength in our cultural or political beliefs, whatever may come. But while the rock is steadfast, the octopus Te Wheke is a shape-shifter, canny and malleable.

Commentary
Bulletin Turns 200

Bulletin Turns 200

A cover photograph of a set of storage racks, a six-digit phone number and a simple address: Botanical Gardens, Rolleston Avenue. The first issue of Bulletin, sent to members of the Robert McDougall Art Gallery in the early months of 1979, was a no-nonsense, four-page, black and white, bi-monthly newsheet promising an informative diet of “news, views and reviews of activities” at the Gallery and “important visual arts news from Christchurch”.

Notes
Paerangi / The Fold in the Sky

Paerangi / The Fold in the Sky

The connection between land and sky is important in te ao Māori. In Māori creation, Papatūānuku (the earth mother) was separated from Ranginui (the sky father) by their children, creating Te Ao Mārama, the world of light.

Notes
Hand-washing

Hand-washing

As we all know, one of the best ways to prevent the spread of Covid-19 is washing our hands. For the last week or so, our wonderful librarian Tim Jones supplied all the bathrooms at Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū with poems by New Zealand poets to make the recommended 2-minute handwashing sessions pass a little more bearably.

Now we are all working from home, we'll try to keep this going, starting with a reading of On First Looking into Chapman's Homer by John Keats, the poem behind Michael Parekowhai's sculpture. Tim himself is the reader.

Press play and start washing.

My Favourite
Jason Greig's Vulcan Paradise

Jason Greig's Vulcan Paradise

I’ve had a quiet fascination with Jason Greig’s work ever since I was a Year 13 student hanging about Burnside High’s art block (which, granted, wasn’t that long ago). My then printmaking teacher, Nichola Shanley, is a good friend of Jason’s and managed to get him along to one of our classes.