As it happened, several hundred more seats were called for, as people kept flooding in for what turned out to be one of the biggest public programme attendances on record at Christchurch Art Gallery – around four hundred people. You could put the turnout down to a dearth of cultural options in the post-quake city. But the real reason, surely, was the powerful sense of connection and interest inspired by the paintings of Shane Cotton, who trained at the University of Canterbury School of Fine Arts and is now one of Australasia's most esteemed contemporary painters.
Well before the quake, senior curator Justin Paton was working with Cotton on a show that combined some brand-new paintings with a selection of skyscapes from the last half-decade – many of which have not been seen in New Zealand. Several years and many aftershocks later, that show, titled The Hanging Sky, is about to open in Brisbane at the Institute of Modern Art, then to travel to Campbelltown Arts Centre in Sydney, before returning to New Zealand and (cross all your fingers, please) the newly reopened Christchurch Art Gallery – where we hope to connect again with all the people who braved the cold for Shane's talk back in 2011.
Here's some of what they heard that night.
JUSTIN PATON: I want to start by singling out three qualities that I think characterise Shane's art and give us good reasons to look at it and think about it and care about it. And those are stamina, surprise and suspense. Stamina, because Shane's been producing powerhouse work across more than two decades now. Surprise, because at key moments throughout those decades, often just when a consensus had settled about the content of his work or where it was going, Shane put his head down, changed up a gear and turned his painting and his art in an unexpected direction. And suspense, because his paintings so often seem to put us on the threshold of an event or transformation – something about which we feel both uncertain and intensely curious. With luck the conversation tonight will be a chance to press a bit closer to some of those transformations.
Shane, the earliest work in the exhibition we're planning is from around 2006, but I thought we'd jump back to a work called Lying in the Black Land. It's from 1998 and in some ways feels like it's from another time. The nineties was a period when a lot happened for you, so how does it feel to look back on this moment?
SHANE COTTON: It's always a wee bit scary looking back at old work. I went to art school here in Christchurch, and when I came down from the North Island I didn't know a hell of a lot about painting. I went in with a view of just wanting to learn – to learn about the process and the history of painting. I didn't have any inner demons or internal conflicts I was fighting within myself, I just wanted to immerse myself in the whole practice of painting – what it was to be a painter, what it was to make images, what it was to try and invest power in an image. So when I left art school the world was my oyster, and I started doing very organic, very painterly work. I was throwing lots of information and visual material in just so I could keep up the thing I was doing at art school, which was finding out what it was to make a painting.
Then I shifted to Palmerston North and I took up a lectureship in the Māori Studies department and all of a sudden I was exposed to a different kind of history, a Māori colonial history – it was something that I didn't know about in any great depth but I had to try to teach the stuff. I was learning, teaching, learning, teaching, all at speed, and it started feeding into my painting.
So a lot of the work through the nineties was dense; it was dense with biblical scripture and dense with Māori history, which was new to me. I wasn't so much trying to teach people about this stuff as trying to understand it for myself. And because I was interested in the painting process, and because I had become interested in New Zealand history and the way that it was momentous and caused huge shifts and changes for both the Pākehā and Māori, I just couldn't get away from it.
I suppose in many ways I made the mistake, as a painter, of not knowing when to stop. I was trying to fit all this stuff in and then somehow get it out and expose it. I wanted to see what the audience was going to make of it – what they had to say about it, if they would learn something new from it. It was one of those times in a painter's career where certain things come together – you have your moment and the culture around the work supports it. The polemic, the dialogue, the postcolonial argument, everything was about those kinds of debates. We were coming hard off the Headlands [Thinking through New Zealand Art, 1992] show and the whole conversation about cultural appropriation and what it means for a white person to use a Māori image, what a 'Māori image' means, what it means for a Māori person to be influenced by contemporary art forms from around the world – is it still Māori art? All these questions were being posed and I was like a sponge, absorbing it and feeding off it and working out some kind of reaction to it.
But by the time I got to Lying in the Black Land I'd gotten through a lot of that. And as a painter, once you know how to do something there's no point going back to do the same thing. What's the point? You know how to do it, you know the result you're going to get, you want to try something different. One of the painters I admire is the American Agnes Martin, who has devoted her career to making very subtle, very refined, abstract paintings. I love the way some painters have this ability to sustain one kind of style or obsession or interest in work over a period of, say, six decades. I find that incredible, but it's not what I can do. I'm a bit of a magpie, flying around pinching stuff. I want to experience what it's like to make different kinds of images, so I don't have any problem with how different a new painting might look or how it sits against earlier work — that's the curators' job. They're the ones who say it's right or wrong or he's gone bloody haywire. I don't worry too much about it. If you worry about those sorts of things, you're going to get long periods of procrastination and painter's block. Just put it out there and see how it's received...
JP: So between the 1990s and a work like Red Shift in 2007, what happened? You had been carrying so much cultural baggage and in Red Shift it's all been jettisoned. You've taken off, you're flying. Why did that happen?
SC: I wanted it to be minimal. I was trying to make an image in a very economical way. And I was trying to present something that had a sense of purpose about it. But I didn't want to labour over it. Another painter I really admire is Ed Ruscha, and if you look at a Ruscha canvas it's the concept you register first and the practice thing comes after. I really admire the gravity of those works, yet if you look at the surface, it's a bit of a letdown – very, very light on the canvas. It's almost as though if he doesn't get it right in the first stroke, he doesn't labour over it; he just puts it aside and tries again. I like the fluidity and the ease with which he makes that heavy statement, the contrast between lightness and weight. And because I was working with acrylic after using oils for a long time, I was experimenting with that kind of feel in the work and how it was actually made.
JP: One thing that really stands out in the paintings of the mid 2000s is your constant engagement, one might even say your obsession, with the colour blue. What led you to that?
SC: I was thinking about this the other night, wondering why the hell did I start painting blue? I just couldn't remember. It was my wife who reminded me that it was because of the word 'kikorangi'. I sometimes use biblical scripture in my work and I referenced Genesis – that moment, that Christian moment, of the beginning of humanity, where life on earth as we know it unfolds. In the Māori translation the word for firmament is kikorangi, which I think is a really interesting word. Kikorangi is the colour blue. But it's made up of two words – 'kiko' is flesh and 'rangi' is sky and I've always wondered why that relationship is used to describe the colour of the sky. I think, and I'm guessing, that it's something to do with the use of moko, because when you place moko under the skin it turns a particular blue. But anyway, because of my interest in that translation I started painting everything blue. It became like an anchor for me, a way to reference that moment or schematic shift as one story is translated into another. I was also going back to the economy thing – trying to limit the way I was making the paintings, limiting my palette...
JP: Speaking of blueness and tattooing, can we look at the painting from which the show takes its title, The Hanging Sky. Can you tell us about this particular face – where it's from, why it's played such a part in your art, and how you've transformed it?
SC: This is based on Hongi Hika's carved self-portrait bust that he did when he was in Sydney. It's a very intricate carving and I started painting it because, one, I was interested in the pattern itself, the beauty and the symmetry. The presentation of the photograph that this is based on is frontal, so it meets you straight on, and you can see the pattern perfectly.
He's a Ngā Puhi leader so that's obviously important to me because of Ngā Puhi narrative, but for me this image really matters because it symbolises a moment of change. He lived in a time where he saw Māori custom change into the world of colonial New Zealand. He saw momentous change and shifting in society and so to me he's symbolic of that idea of transformation, be it cultural transformation or identity transformation or whatever. I started painting him in lots of situations where he's not static – where he's fluid and things are happening in and around him. It's this idea that everything's in play and nothing stays the same.
JP: And what about the many heads that float in Tradition, History and Incidents?
SC: Most of the heads I use come out of the Major-General Horatio Robley collection of mokomōkai that he assembled in the late nineteenth, early twentieth century. I've done a few from photographs of heads in collections but mostly the heads that I've used have had some kind of connection to Robley and I think that's because there is a very famous picture of him sitting in front of his collection. It's a really odd picture, but my position is that in a way what he did was good because it kept a kind of record. But you know, when I remade this image I didn't take a position on it. I was interested in the image and the way it was captured and I just wanted to re-present it – to re-present the heads in a surreal unknown state and remove them from that original position.
JP: And beyond the faces, how about the spaces they hover in – the deep, dark skies that start to open up around 2006? The earlier works, Lying in the Black Land among them, tend to put us in quite a stable position as viewers. We feel a bit like surveyors looking out towards a steady horizon, or museum visitors looking into a cabinet. What were you after, with the new and much more open spaces?
SC: You know if you see a bird flying through a landscape you sort of see its motion; you don't actually stop it at all. But in the new paintings the birds were suspended in space and it was like the rocks were starting to move – that's how I was starting to see it. It happens in Takarangi, this reversal of things, and I became interested in the way that elements were swapping places. The birds were stopped and it was the mountains that were moving or, in terms of the way the marks were flowing, had the potential to move.
JP: So to ask a probably unanswerable question, where are we in these works? What is this space for you?
SC: I wouldn't say it's a dreamscape necessarily, it's more of a surreal space. If I think about surrealist art generally, it's about the uncanny – it has this familiarity about it, but it's presented in such a way that something strange is also occurring. I think these works are a bit like that. My family comes from the north and we're very superstitious people, and I like this idea of superstition in my work – it's not something that I talk about a lot but I think there's something in my work that alludes to that, this sort of uncanny unknown, where you become very wary or very suspicious. For me that's what it's about. In Takarangi the space is a naturalistic space in a sense – it's a real-time space – but then in behind the birds are those very light graphic lines. They're like little manaia figures, little sort of doodles, but they frustrate the space a bit. And I sometimes do things like that because I want to remind the viewer that it ain't all that real. That it's a space that potentially is not of the real world – not of the natural world. That it's constructed, that it's personalised in some way.
JP: I'll hit you with the big question. Someone might say, 'I'd like to explore all this through a photograph'; someone else might say, 'I'd like to explore it through film'. Why are you a painter and not another kind of artist? What is it that painting does for you, or lets you do, that you couldn't do in those other media?
SC: I just like the process of painting. I like remaking images in paint. If I'm trying to develop a work, it often comes from seeing an image. I might see an image of a cliffscape and use that as a starting point. And quite often, when you're covering large areas with singular marks, and you're trying to build up this density to give the impression of the cliff, it becomes like a Chuck Close painting. You look at a Chuck Close painting and he's got this grid system – he only ever considers one point on the canvas at a time before moving to the next point and then he stands back and takes in the enormity of the whole process that actually makes the image. That's how I work sometimes, and I don't know of any other art form that allows you to do that.
You could probably do it with a computer but then you'd miss the physicality of it, the physicality of dipping the brush into the goo and trying to see how far it goes before it runs out, so you reload the brush and you're constantly adjusting. That's the process of painting and that's the thing I still enjoy doing. Sometimes when you're working on big canvases you go into a studio and you've got all the energy in the world so you start down in the corner, and a few hours later you find yourself thinking this ain't gonna work... But I like hanging in there and grafting it and working it out. And as I start to get into the process and the density starts to build, it opens up a whole lot of other ways you can get into it – will you take to it with a spray-can? What does the thing as a whole tell you about where you are going to place an image? You're working it out as you go, sniffing around to see if it's going to work, and sometimes it doesn't. I like it when you get to the point of beginning to admire it, and then the next day you go in and you get the spray-gun out and you start wrecking it a bit. That takes the painting somewhere else and you try and deal with that and get through the problem you've created for yourself.
JP: With you living in Palmerston North I'm not in your studio very often at all, so I've got to admit the last few visits have been almost shocking... [SC: Thanks, mate.] There was one occasion in particular where you'd painted a beautiful sequence of skyscapes—they were lyrical, they were eerie, and I thought, 'That looks fantastic.' And when I came back again you'd vandalised them with red spray-painted words. Do you have strategies you use to keep yourself on your toes in this way, to deliver these sorts of small shocks to your viewers?
SC: A strategy? No, I just kind of go with the flow. You get to a point in your work, I think, when you know how to do something and it doesn't fill your creative cup any more. So one of the things I started doing was wrecking my own work a bit. I wanted to jar it.
If you go back to a work like Coloured Dirt you see that I wanted it to be well crafted, I wanted it to look super-natural—to be captured like a photograph. I love the way a painting can be a vehicle for tricking the viewer; I'm still fascinated by paintings like that myself. But when you know how to do that, you get tired of it, so I started doing these other things with graffiti—I wanted to disrupt the perfect environment or world that I was painting. After airbrushing in some skyscapes, one day I just started writing text all over, really getting into it. It was a fine line between 'Is this thing getting better?' or 'Is it getting worse?' and for quite a while it wasn't getting good at all. But as you come to understand the painting conceptually you make it right; I felt comfortable with the way the paintings were disrupting themselves and so I started showing them.
JP: On the one hand you seem to hold out the lure of something to read, but, on the other, this red skywriting is very hard to read. It's often in another language, a language many viewers won't understand. There are layers; the words fade out raggedly. Why is it important to make it hard for us to read?
SC: If you look at a McCahon, his use of text was very much about the idea of reading a painting—he wanted you to read it. I don't. The text in my work is more like an interference pattern. There may be keywords—for instance, the text in many of those works is from the Book of Job; it's at the beginning and God and Satan have a conversation, they have a wager. Satan says, 'You know, I reckon if you give this guy a hard time he's going to come over to the dark side.' But before that God says to Satan, 'Where have you been?' And there's this lovely series of sentences where he describes how he's been drifting through earth, walking through the earth and walking through the sky, toing and froing in the earth. If you consider how, as a Māori person, you might think about the land, you quite often tend to personify it through its name. And if you think that something bad is wandering though you, it's somehow affecting you. I've always thought that kind of creepy. I'm interested in that piece of text so I painted it in English and then I painted another one, which is the Māori translation. I've given them the same treatment – I use words like an image. I want them to operate like the birds or the clouds but at moments you can make out a word – you might make out the words 'Satan' and 'earth'. You might see the words coming to you, from you, through you. I'm alluding to the possibilities of something else instead of demanding a literal reading
Five significant works of art that look to traditional Māori architecture to inform modernist and contemporary Māori art practice.
Shane Cotton: Baseland
Christchurch audiences at last have the opportunity to experience the complexity and ambition of Cotton's latest work in this two-venue exhibition by one of the biggest names in New Zealand art.
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.
Kamala, Astral and Charlotte, Lyttelton, March 1983
Laurence Aberhart's 1983 photograph of Lyttelton children is displayed on our Gloucester Street billboard.
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.
Sparks that fly upwards
Curator Felicity Milburn remembers five years and 101 installations in a gallery without walls.
Peter Stichbury's NDE
Anna Worthington chooses her favourite work from the Gallery collection.
Everything is Going to be Alright
Martin Creed's completely unequivocal, but also pretty darn ambiguous, work for Christchurch.
Michael Parekowhai: Chapman's Homer at PlaceMakers Riccarton
Christchurch's favourite bull can now be found at PlaceMakers Riccarton. That may sound a bit unusual, but these are strange times.
David Cook: Meet Me in the Square
Cathedral Square, Centennial Pool, Lancaster Park, schoolboys, punks, nuns – a photographic journey through 1980s Christchurch.
Last chance to view the Holloway Press exhibition at Central Library Peterborough this week so if you are in the neighbourhood and like beautifully printed, designed and hand-crafted books then make sure you head along.
Paul Johns: South Pacific Sanctuary / Peraki / Banks Peninsula
The consideration of Japanese whale-hunting activity and ensuing protest in nearby southern waters has led to a reflection on our local whaling past, highlighting changing and divergent attitudes to animal life.
Proceed and Be Bold: The Pear Tree Press
An exhibition of beautifully crafted, designed and hand-printed books from New Zealand's most renowned private press, The Pear Tree Press.
Max Hailstone: Book and Typographic Designer
A selection of typographic designs, including books, posters and ephemera, by renowned Christchurch graphic designer Max Hailstone (1942–1997).
Edwards+Johann: Rebels, Knights and Other Tomorrows
Combining vividly imagined photographs with sculptural elements, Christchurch-based collaborative duo Edwards+Johann present an enigmatic and playful installation laced with tension and possibility.
Daniel Crooks: Seek Stillness in Movement
Hectic city scenes transformed into contemplative meditations of extraordinary beauty.
The idea of peppering the vestigial city centre with portraits from the collection became part of the Gallery's tenth birthday POPULATE! programme, intended to remind all of us that the collection is, indeed, still here and in good shape.
Burster Flipper Wobbler Dripper Spinner Stacker Shaker Maker
A family-focused exhibition powered by the excitement of seeing ordinary things transformed in unexpected ways.
It's where we live: the encrusted surface of a molten planet, rotating on its own axis, circling round the star that gives our daylight. Geographically, it's a mapped-out city at the edge of a plain, bordered by sea and rising, broken geological features. Zooming in further, it's a neighbourhood, a street, a shelter – all things existing at first as outlines, drawings, plans. And it's a body: portable abode of mind, spirit, psyche (however we choose to view these things); the breathing physical location of unique identity and passage.
Six artists use line to investigate space and structure in unexpected ways.
New Zealand Illustrated: Pictorial Books from the Victorian Age
A selection of lavishly illustrated books from the Victorian era relating to New Zealand landscape, Māori culture, colonial enterprise and our unique flora, fauna and birdlife.
The endless newscape: Barry Cleavin’s inkjet prints
Barry Cleavin is often, rightfully, referred to as a 'master printer' – a maestro of intaglio printing techniques including the complex tonal subtleties of aquatint, soft- and hard-ground etching and the creation of 'linear tension'. Mastering these complex techniques to achieve a command over the etching processes has required patience and fortitude over a career spanning some forty-seven years.
Yvonne Todd: The Wall of Man
A succinct ad placed in the classifieds of the North Shore Times in March 2009 attracted some forty applicants. Respondents were shown a photographic portrait of an unnamed executive, and directed towards ervon.com – artist Yvonne Todd's website – to decide whether or not they wanted to be photographed. Some still did. The unfolding story might not have been exactly what they'd expected, but all who agreed understood it would be something different. Next came the eliminations: sixteen men were chosen to be photographed; twelve made it to the final cut. The resulting images were printed at varying sizes and titled: International Sales Director, Retired Urologist, Family Doctor, Senior Executive, Hospital Director, Company Founder, Sales Executive, Chief Financial Officer, Image Consultant, Independent Manufacturing Director, Publisher, Agrichemical Spokesman. This is The Wall of Man.
Bodytok Quintet: The Human Instrument Archive
An interactive installation that reveals the astonishing sounds people can make using their bodies – from lip plopping to bone clicking.
Glen Hayward: I don't want you to worry about me, I have met some Beautiful People
Real or illusory? Virtual or physical? Sculptor Glen Hayward teases out these questions in this mind-bending new sculpture, a hand-carved and painted recreation of the famous office cubicle from The Matrix.
Fernbank Studio: away past elsewhere
A selection of hand-printed books from Wellington's Fernbank Studio.
Boyd Webb: Sleep/Sheep
Boyd Webb contributes a new work to the Gallery's Sterescope programme.
Tony Oursler: Head Knocking
Credited with freeing video art from the 'tyranny of the monitor', Tony Oursler is regarded as one of the world's most influential artists in that medium.
Tony Oursler: Fist
Credited with freeing video art from the 'tyranny of the monitor', Tony Oursler is regarded as one of the world's most influential artists in that medium.
Faces from the Collection
Treasured portraits populate empty spaces in our changing city.
Christchurch Art Gallery is ten: highs and lows
In recognition of the anniversary of the move of Christchurch's public art gallery from its former existence as the Robert McDougall in the Botanic Gardens to its new more central city location (now eerily empty), I've been asked by Bulletin's editor to recall some highs and lows of the last ten years. So here goes — and stay with me during this reflection, which takes the place of my usual foreword.
Fall tension tension wonder bright burn want
Curator Felicity Milburn on Tony Oursler and the grotesque.
Gregor Kregar: Reflective Lullaby
Justin Paton: As everyone who has seen your works at Christchurch Airport will know, you often make big sculptures with a geometric quality. Gnomes, however large, aren't the first things viewers might expect you to be interested in. What's the appeal of these figures for you?
Gregor Kregar: I'm interested reinterpreting mundane objects, shapes, situations or materials. In my large geometric works I do this by creating complex structures out of basic shapes—triangles, squares, pentagons and hexagons. And with the gnomes I am interested in how something that is usually made out of plastic or concrete and is associated with a low, kitsch aesthetic can be transformed into an arresting monumental sculpture.
It’s our party and we’ll cry if we want to
On 10 May 2013, Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū turns ten. Which is fantastic. But it's probably fair to say that there's a bittersweet quality to the celebrations around this particular anniversary, as it also marks two years and eleven weeks of closure for the Gallery, and catches us staring down the barrel of another two years without our home.
It's frustrating. And then some.
However, we're not going to let these little, ahem, inconveniences get in the way of our party. Populate! is our birthday programme, and it's our attempt to bring some unexpected faces and figures back to the depleted central city. Bulletin spoke to the Gallery's senior curator Justin Paton about what he really wants for the tenth birthday, what he finds funny, and what he really doesn't.
Roger Boyce: Painter Speaks
Grinning ventriloquist dummies are the stars of the show in Roger Boyce's Painter Speaks.
Tony Oursler: Bright Burn Want
The fantastically strange, inescapably human works of renowned video artist Tony Oursler.
Jess Johnson: Wurm Whorl Narthex
New Zealand-born, Melbourne-based artist Jess Johnson makes intricate drawings and painted environments that evoke other worlds and parallel realities.
Gregor Kregar: Reflective Lullaby
Gnomes are figures in historic folklore as well as garden ornaments. But Gregor Kregar has brought gnomes like you've never seen to 'the garden city' – staunch, shiny and more than three metres tall.
Camp Blood: Hand-Painted Film Posters
Drawn from the collection of Christchurch painter Roger Boyce, these promotional posters from Ghana, Africa, are movie marketing like you've never seen: lurid, vivid and emphatically hand-made.
Francis Upritchard: Believer
A New Age awakening? Or just a 1960s pipe dream? Francis Upritchard's Believer is a recent addition to her expanding gallery of hippies, dreamers and gurus.
Sian Torrington: How you have held things
Wellington-based artist Sian Torrington's site-specific sculptural installation combined ideas, images and materials that related to life in post-quake Christchurch
Christchurch Art Gallery is excited to be working with Wellington-based artist Sian Torrington on a site-specific sculptural installation that will combine ideas, images and materials that relate to living in Christchurch now.
See below for a message from Sian to find out how you can get involved.
The Gallery's latest exhibition in the Outer Spaces programme, Showhome, has opened in Christchurch, featuring the disconcertingly 'perfect' works of recent University of Canterbury graduate Emily Hartley-Skudder.
Speaking sticks and moving targets
New works by Shane Cotton
The Hanging Sky brings together Shane Cotton's skyscapes from the past five years. But the core of the exhibition is a big group of freshly made works of art. Senior curator Justin Paton first saw them in completed form during the show's installation in Brisbane. Here he describes his encounters with a body of work 'at once beautiful, aggressive, protective and evasive.'
Steve Carr: Majo
Steve Carr's strangely mesmerising sound and video projection is shown after dark in an upstairs window of the old house opposite the Gallery on Worcester Boulevard.
Seung Yul Oh: Huggong
Christchurch Art Gallery has a new offsite space, and Seung Yul Oh has filled it to bursting with his comically vast balloon sculptures.
Reuben Paterson: Te Pūtahitangi ō Rehua
Op-art patterns, expanses of glitter and Māori stories of water. They're all set in motion in this dazzling video installation by New Zealand artist Reuben Paterson.
Christchurch Art Gallery celebrates its tenth birthday with a burst of art in the city – including whopping new murals, night-time projections and sculptures where you least expect them.
Toshi Endo: Wolf-Cub
The kaleidoscopic moving imagery of Christchurch artist Toshi Endo has been stripped of colour and brought to a standstill in Wolf-Cub, his contribution to Christchurch Art Gallery's Stereoscope programme.
A Caxton Miscellany: The Caxton Press 1933–58
Established in Christchurch in 1933 the Caxton Press became one of the most progressive publishers of contemporary New Zealand writing and dynamic modern typographical design.
Brenda Nightingale: Christchurch Hills 2010–2012
Local artist Brenda Nightingale's beautifully produced, hand-stitched publication features a selection of recent watercolours based on one of Christchurch's defining features, the Port Hills
Stereoscope #2: Robert Hood
Two Year of the Cyclops works by Christchurch artist Rob Hood kick off the second itteration of Stereoscope at 26E Lichfield Street.
Stereoscope: Robin Neate
Christchurch artist Robin Neate's contribution to the Gallery's Stereoscope programme is drawn from his recent series of energised abstract paintings.
Expect the rug to be pulled out from under your feet with the last exhibition in the Rolling Maul series.
De Lautour / Greig / Hammond
An exciting opportunity to see new work by leading Canterbury artists Tony de Lautour, Jason Greig and Bill Hammond
A miscellany of observable illustrations
Romantic notions of gothic leanings, the legacy of Tony Fomison, devotion to rock sub-genres and an eye to the past are familiar and sound reasons to group Tony de Lautour, Jason Greig and Bill Hammond together in one exhibition, but De Lautour / Greig / Hammond is to feature new and recent work. Could all this change? What nuances will be developed or abandoned? Will rich veins be further mined? We can only speculate and accept that even the artists concerned can't answer these questions. For the artist, every work is a new endeavour, a new beginning. What may appear to the public, the critic or the art historian as a smooth, seamless flow of images is for them an unpredictable process where the only boundaries are those that they choose to invent.
James Oram: but it’s worth it
Manipulating found footage of the infamous 'Black Friday' sales held by American chain stores, James Oram isolates and magnifies smaller physical gestures amidst the frenzied crush.
Stereoscope: Kristin Hollis
Drawings of two bottles - one of gin, one of water – grace the Montreal Street side of the Christchurch Art Gallery bunker in the latest offering in the Stereoscope series.
Miranda Parkes / Tjalling de Vries: Keep left, keep right
Sharing an interest in expanding the idea of abstract painting beyond its traditional borders, Miranda Parkes and Tjalling de Vries explore the creative possibilities of commercial billboards in an exhibition that combines painting and projection to obstruct and intrigue in equal measure.
The popularity of Reconstruction: Conversations on a City has led to the exhibition being extended until 14 October, and the development of a publication.
André Hemer: <del>CASS</del>
André Hemer's many-dimensioned installation for the Rolling Maul series combines painting with a range of secondary outputs to play with ideas of distance and deletion – with particular reference to a well known work from the Gallery's collection.
Helen Calder: Orange Up
Helen Calder's new work, Orange Up, provides a refreshingly bold statement on the Gallery bunker using one of the powerhouses in the range of colours: orange.
Justene Williams: She Came Over Singing Like a Drainpipe Shaking Spoon Infused Mixers
Australian artist Justene Williams uses performance and ephemeral materials to produce a sensory overload of shapes, patterns and colours in the vibrantly theatrical video work.
Ruth Watson: from white darkness
Offering a poetic commentary on the intriguing resemblances between art and science, Ruth Watson's container-based video installation combines historical footage, text and her own Antarctic imagery.
Tjalling is Innocent
An ambitious paste-up work by local artist Tjalling de Vries on CoCa's back wall (viewable from Worcester Boulevard), Tjalling is Innocent is an Outer Spaces project presented in association with CoCA.
Tony de Lautour: Unreal Estate
Painted on found pages from real estate publications, Unreal Estate, is an artist's book published by local artist Tony de Lautour and Christchurch Art Gallery.
Out of Place
Katharina Jaeger, Chris Pole, Tim J. Veling and Charlotte Watson start with structure and consider what is possible when the normal rules no longer apply.
If you've not been down to the Central Library Peterborough yet now's a good time to do it.
We're pretty pleased with what we're achieving with our Outer Spaces programme, but it's always good to see what else is out there. And I do mean 'out there'...
Laying out Foundations
Looking broadly at the topic of local architectural heritage, Reconstruction: conversations on a city had been scheduled to open at the Gallery but will now instead show on outdoor exhibition panels along Worcester Boulevard from 23 June. Supplementing works from the collection with digital images from other collections, curator Ken Hall brings together an arresting art historical tour of the city and its environs.
Phantom City: Doc Ross’s Christchurch 1998–2011
Back projected large onto a shop window in Colombo Street, Sydenham, Doc Ross's photographs create a haunting record of this city before its dramatic seismic demise.
Stereoscope #1: Robert Hood
Two Year of the Cyclops works by Christchurch artist Rob Hood kick off Stereoscope, a new Outer Spaces series housed within two black frames positioned on the street-side of the Gallery's Montreal Street bunker.
Here are the people and there is the steeple
A big bright mural inspired by the challenges of rebuilding a city. Kay Rosen turns the word 'people' into the foundation for an unexpected 'steeple'.
Michael Parekowhai: On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer
Michael Parekowhai's spectacular Venice Biennale installation returns home for its first post-Biennale showing in New Zealand.
Hannah and Aaron Beehre: Waters Above Waters Below
Hannah and Aaron Beehre's immersive new installation connects us with the transformative moments beneath the surface of the everyday.
Georgie Hill and Zina Swanson: Breathing space
Strength, fragility and connection are at the heart of the second Rolling Maul exhibition, which features works by Georgie Hill and Zina Swanson.
Sam Harrison: Render
Presenting new art from Christchurch, our Rolling Maul project series begins with a remarkable exhibition of sculptures by Sam Harrison.
A lot of water, and Lord only knows what else, has flowed under the bridge since Justin Paton and I first hatched our plans for a fast-paced, post-quake showing of new work by local artists. Rolling Maul, so far, has been quite the antithesis of 'fast-paced', and despite our best efforts, it is yet to roll anywhere – rather it has been beset by the same delays, cancellations and frustrations as all of the Gallery's other in-house plans.
Our original concept, as outlined in B.165, was based around the use of one of Christchurch Art Gallery's ground-floor exhibition spaces, which we hoped to reoccupy as soon as they were no longer required as part of the City Council/CERA earthquake response. But as we are now only too aware, we won't be showing anything there any time soon.
Elliot Collins: For those who stay behind
Keep an eye out for the Gallery's latest Outer Spaces project around town over the next couple of weeks as poster reproductions of three paintings by Auckland artist Elliot Collins appear pasted to bollards and walls throughout the city.
Ronnie van Hout: The creation of the world
A haunting video projection by Ronnie van Hout in the window of the old house opposite the Gallery on Worcester Boulevard.
Julia Morison: Meet me on the other side
Julia Morison's evocative post-quake sculptures and 'liqueurfaction' paintings return to Christchurch for a special showing in a gallery space overlooking the inner-city 'red zone'.
I seem to have temporarily misplaced my sense of humour
Stretching across a vast wall at the gateway to Sydenham, Wayne Youle's new public artwork is a shadowboard, where tools for rebuilding hang alongside many familiar but precious objects.
Matt Akehurst: You Are Here
Pablo Picasso, Marcel Duchamp, Damien Hirst, Robert Smithson, Michelangelo... Yes, all the big names have just arrived on the Christchurch Art Gallery forecourt.
Julia Morison: Aibohphobia
Julia Morison has turned the Gallery's squat grey bunker into a dizzying vision in dayglo green.
André Hemer: Things to do with paint that won't dry
New Zealand artist André Hemer's colourful Worcester Boulevard intervention Things to do with paint that won't dry, appears to flow and spill down the side of the building.
Jae Hoon Lee: Annapurna
An immense and oddly surreal landscape glowing out from the Springboard over Worcester Boulevard is the latest addition to the Outer Spaces programme.
Scott Flanagan: Do You Remember Me Like I Do?
Including a wishing well and mirror painstakingly woven from reflective black VHS tape, Scott Flanagan's latest installation considers the surprisingly elusive nature of civic memory.
In preparation for the next issue of Bulletin, Gallery photographer John and I have been out photographing some of the local artists who will be taking part in Rolling Maul when we reopen.
New Zealand in the Biennale of Sydney and the Biennale of Sydney in New Zealand
and the Biennale of Sydney in New Zealand