Christchurch, we have an incredible opportunity to have our very own work by world-renowned sculptor, Ron Mueck.Learn More

Are you on for Ron?

 Christchurch, we have an incredible opportunity to have our very own work by world-renowned sculptor, Ron Mueck.Pledge big or small nowContinue to site

It’s our party and we’ll cry if we want to

On 10 May 2013, Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu 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.

Bulletin: Let's start with a simple one: Why is the show called Populate!? Does the exclamation mark mean we're expected to shout it?

Justin Paton: No need to shout it. But the exclamation mark is certainly there to intensify the word, to make it as active and 'verby' as possible. On the art front, this is definitely a time for verbs not nouns: for art that gets out there and does something. The exclamation mark makes 'populate' into a command, a good-natured call to arms. That call goes out to the audience, of course, who we hope will come into the city to see some of the things we're presenting. But it's also a challenge to ourselves, as we attempt to produce more art in and for Christchurch. One of the most striking things about the inner city now is that it's depopulated, so we wanted to play directly with the idea of human presence. Art as a way of populating a too-quiet city with faces and figures – albeit idiosyncratic ones. My hope for viewers is that exploring the birthday programme will be like bumping into a series of interesting strangers.

B: Is Pop art also in there in the title?

JP: Yes, glad to embrace the Pop in populate, especially since Pop was so interested in urban subjects. There's also a nod to pop-up shops and galleries, which are everywhere in post-quake Christchurch. I loved comedian Dai Henwood's comment that Mayor Bob Parker's memoir about the earthquakes should really have been a pop-up book. I also have to admit that, after naming the programme Populate! we wondered nervously about whether a vandal might change the 'p' to a 'c' on posters. But given the dearth of people in the central city, that too could be a useful injunction...

B: How does it feel to be celebrating a birthday when the Gallery's been closed for more than two years now? When the earthquake happened did it even cross your mind that we'd still be in this situation at this point?

JP: It's funny, in a bleak way, to look back at the early days of the Gallery's closure and think how optimistic we were. Would we be closed for two months? Three months? Could it even be six? By June or so we'd planned a full reopening programme: community murals, a barbecue, a complete rehang of the collection. We'd printed brochures and begun distributing them. And then the bad news started to trickle down. Anything resembling solid information was very hard to come by (although it's interesting what people leave on photocopiers). But you didn't need to be a sleuth to see what was coming. Plenty of us were learning how long it would take for repairs on our own homes to begin. Considering the size of the Gallery building, the preciousness of its contents, and the complexity of its ownership and insurance, it was easy to guess how much more complicated and slow-moving that fix-up was going to be. So the expanded Outer Spaces programme wasn't just for the community. It was also an internal rallying exercise and an act of productive desperation – a way of convincing ourselves we still existed.

Demo crews work in front of Kay Rosen's Here are the people and there is the steeple in 2012

Demo crews work in front of Kay Rosen's Here are the people and there is the steeple in 2012

B: How does a big gallery suddenly equip itself for making and showing art outdoors?

JP: One of the problems with big galleries, or art museums as they're called overseas, is that they don't do anything suddenly. They're prone to isolation and inertia; they fall in love with their own politics and protocols. It's hard to talk about the value of change without getting into Oprah Winfrey territory, but I think it's great that, having been moved in the worst way by the earthquakes, the Gallery has moved positively to a new way of doing things. We've realised more than fifty Outer Spaces projects in two years. Some have been small, like the poster runs and night-time videos, and some have involved huge efforts, like Felicity's Rolling Maul series of local artist exhibitions. But all of them, by pre-quake standards, exist way beyond our old comfort zones. We're the opposite of risk-averse at present. We'll try anything, almost.

B: There are a number of organisations working to enliven spaces around the city. The Gallery has worked with Gap Filler before on a number of occasions, one being the Wayne Youle mural in Sydenham, and a number of elements in the Populate! programme have been aided by Life in Vacant Spaces. Can you tell me where the Gallery fits into this mix?

JP: I don't think anything fits right now, and that's a good thing. At the level of art, many kinds of organisations and individuals are out there throwing their time and idealism and resources at the city. Every drive through town turns up some surprising image or intervention, and you're often uncertain who's responsible for which bit of art. In fact there are so many projects firing out there now that the main problem may be congestion, as artists jostle for the chance to make their mark on prime sites before development begins. We encountered this with the big Wayne Youle wall, where it turned out that several other artists had been eyeing the same space that Gap Filler had earlier secured. But a sense of goodwill and shared purpose seems to have kept territorialism at bay and buoyed the various projects along. Among the things the Gallery can bring to this landscape are people, know-how and resources. What it can bring especially is its relationship with artists. When things are happening at speed in an unpredictable setting, artists have to know they're in good hands.

B: In the last issue of Bulletin Lee Stickells talked of guerrilla interventions within the city. But in Christchurch at present it seems that the guerrilla is now the establishment. Do the structures and systems that are now appearing around these strangle the frontier spirit, or add essential quality control?

JP: Would-be makers of public art need all the help they can get to make things happen in such a messy environment. But I think things are shifting at present. I suspect we'll look back on this period with (very qualified) nostalgia, as a time when the rules for public art in the new city weren't yet fully worked out. A wild west moment, when official productions were contending for space with unlicensed forms of creation and also with things that are not art but look a hell of a lot like it. As commercial development swings into action, the public art landscape will become more regulated and bureaucratised. And, as that happens, what art means in the city will also change. In the early post-quake days, I think art mattered simply because it was art – a sign that some humans were home and determined to keep things interesting. But we can expect to see artists enlisted more and more as the standard-bearers of 'development'. Along with this will come the institutionalisation of a particular kind of user-friendly and community-spirited public art – the kind of thing that bolsters the city's image as a top ten Lonely Planet destination. That's fine. But you'd have to say it's also a great time for a really prickly, antagonistic public artist to get out there and start rubbing the city up the wrong way.

Installing Peter Stichbury's NDE in April 2013

Installing Peter Stichbury's NDE in April 2013

B: But the birthday programme seems more celebratory than prickly...

JP: That's true, none of the projects are directly polemical, but I hope at least that they help to keep things strange in Christchurch. When I was talking with Ronnie van Hout about his sculpture Comin' Down, he started recalling the do-it-yourself monuments and pieces of not-quite-art that defined his mental map of the city as a kid – things like the legs sticking out of a stack of tyres outside a tyre yard in Rolleston, or the wacky civic 'sculptures' in Brighton Mall. My own list would include the big black boat that used to sit behind a fence on Ferry Road and the Feejee Mermaid in a grimy old case in the Brighton Mini Zoo. Whether by intention or accident, these things were a relief to come across; they hinted at another city within the city – an older, weirder Christchurch. Jo Langford's recent SCAPE project, the city of lights above Cranmer Square, did something like that. And I'd consider our work done if even a few of the things in the birthday line-up found their way onto some people's inner maps of Christchurch today.

B: It strikes me that art is competing for attention with projects that are more social in intention (I'm thinking of things like the Dance-OMat here) but are judged on similar criteria in terms of their visual impact or the impression they make on the public. Does that have an impact on the types of projects you commission or engage in?

JP: Well it's quite possible to argue that those social projects are art too. They might have more art in them – more imagination and energy – than 'straighter' projects like murals or sculptures. Either way, I think competition is good for public art in any city and in this city especially, where the public art dialogue for too long centred on big, permanent projects and the inevitable 'negative reactions' to them. The more people and groups that are out there doing what they do distinctively, the more all the other people and groups are compelled to sharpen up and define their own acts. For instance, since a lot of new public art in the city has been semi-abstract, it felt to us like a good time to explore portraiture and figuration. The human face and figure remain such powerful tools for artists in public space; that's why advertisers use them all the time. Also, with several of the city's well-known statues still missing from their plinths, it seemed timely to wonder what kind of monuments or counter-monuments might be wanted in the new Christchurch.

B: We've noted the loss of a number of those historic statues around the city in this magazine over the past couple of years. But surely public art today has moved on from monuments to the worthy figures of yesteryear?

JP: It has. And if you read almost any blurb or statement accompanying a public art project today, it will tell you that the artist is rejecting the monumental and all its associations with permanence and singularity – both coded 'bad' in the current spectrum of public- art values. But the problem is not monumentality versus non-monumentality. It's blandness versus interestingness, or inertia versus liveliness. If you'll excuse the mixed metaphor, 'the monumental' has been turned into a kind of straw man, which commentators today freely vilify in order to valorise other kinds of practice. But figurative sculptures don't have to be permanent. They too can be moved, changed, re-sited. And non-monumental sculptures can be just as space- and resource-hungry, and just as lame, as any monumental work. What's interesting today, I think, is that the lessons of 'sculpture in the expanded field' – lessons of impermanence, site-responsiveness and process – have been absorbed by sculptors of all kinds. Antony Gormley is one of the best examples. He might cast figures in bronze, but those figures live emphatically in the expanded field, and they don't live there forever.

It’s our party and we’ll cry if we want to section

B: So you don't think we should be looking to make more permanent additions to the cityscape at this point?

JP: No, I don't think anyone should. One of the most welcome developments in public art commissioning in recent years has been the imposition of fixed life-spans on works. There is nothing more depressing than a big bit of art that's been left out on stage for too long. Things being as they are in Christchurch, I'd prefer us to think of public artworks – even if they're made of tonnes of steel – not as fixtures but as performances. The operative model here should be stand-up comedy. Get out there on stage, do your best to get a response, and then get off before you wear out your welcome. The problem is, it's hard to stay funny when you're staring down an army of engineers, fundraisers, health and safety inspectors, and officials murmuring 'resource consent'.

B: There's a definite bias toward those who 'stay funny' in the Populate! line-up. Art is meant to be a serious matter. Is it okay to simply laugh at it?

JP: I think laughter is one of the most serious responses we can have to art, all the more so because it wells up involuntarily. It's tricky, of course, because what's funny to me might not be funny to you; there's that great Mel Brooks line where he says something like, 'Tragedy is when I get a paper cut, comedy is when you fall down a manhole and die.' The humour that runs through the tenth-birthday programme is certainly of the bent, gallows variety, which I guess could be considered as a coping mechanism in the often grim urban setting. It's about the comedy of being 'only human' in a world where things don't always go your way. The figurehead here has got to be the one in Yvonne Todd's new image, Mood Sandwich, which affects me the way all her images do. I laugh, then wonder if it's okay to be laughing, then wonder what it says about me that I laughed in the first place. In art I think that's the best kind of laughter – the kind that brings some nervousness in its wake, because we feel it's revealed something we hadn't acknowledged before in ourselves. By pushing conventions and assumptions to extremes, the best comedians expose the absurdity of the rules we live by. And I think some of the best contemporary artists do something similar. On top of all this we might say that the plight of public art generally is comic, or maybe tragicomic. Once upon a time it had this assured place at the heart of civic life and architecture. These days it's not sure where it belongs. It's down off its plinth and out on its ear. And the earthquakes have only increased that sense of instability.

Toshi Endo Wolf-Cub 2013. Digital file. Reproduced courtesy of the artist

Toshi Endo Wolf-Cub 2013. Digital file. Reproduced courtesy of the artist

B: The Gallery is essentially a collecting institution, and we have continued to make acquisitions for the city's collection over the duration of our closure. But our lack of suitable display space means that in many ways we are currently forced to operate primarily in the territory of smaller artist run spaces or dealer galleries – where does that leave us?

JP: Well, on one hand it leaves us in a state of painful anticipation, endlessly planning and re-planning the reopening exhibitions in which we get to show these recent gifts and acquisitions. On the other hand, it's nudged – or maybe shoved – us into doing new things. Finding possible exhibition spaces, refitting them, and then filling them with things other than collection objects. It'd be a total fib to say the process doesn't come with major frustrations and complications – all that stuff about signage, monitoring, permissions and public access that you never have to worry about in a purpose-built building. But with luck the fact the venues are unusual makes the art seem more interesting when you finally reach it. Tony Oursler, for instance, is a wonderful artist to encounter in a normal gallery setting. But there's going to be something very memorable about seeing his works blinking and muttering away to themselves in the stairwell and corridor of a historic Christchurch building.

B: Director Jenny Harper often refers to the extraordinary high the Gallery was on just before the 2011 earthquake, with attendance records constantly being broken. Do you think that momentum has been lost? Does it matter?

JP: That kind of cultural momentum takes a long time to build but can disappear alarmingly fast. And in the first few months of the Gallery's closure we could feel it ebbing by the day. It could give you a panicky, block-the-exits sort of feeling, as though something irreversible was in train – and sometimes it still does. I mean, it's our tenth birthday coming up, and we've now been closed for more than a fifth of that time. Two days out of every ten that this building has existed. That's an alarming statistic. But what are you meant to do? It's our party and, as the song says, we'll cry if we want to, but we're not going to mope for too long. All things considered we are lucky to be here with the spirit and wherewithal to still be doing what we like doing. There are more settled places in the country to be presenting art, but I can't think of any that are more interesting.

Related

Commentary
The Lines That Are Left

The Lines That Are Left

Of landscape itself as artefact and artifice; as the ground for the inscribing hand of culture and technology; as no clean slate.

— Joanna Paul

The residential Red Zone is mostly green. After each house is demolished, contractors sweep up what is left, cover the section with a layer of soil and plant grass seed. Almost overnight, driveway, yard, porch, garage, shed and house become a little paddock; the border of plants and trees outlining it the only remaining sign that there was once a house there.

Exhibition
Kamala, Astral and Charlotte, Lyttelton, March 1983

Kamala, Astral and Charlotte, Lyttelton, March 1983

Laurence Aberhart's 1983 photograph of Lyttelton children is displayed on our Gloucester Street billboard.

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
Five years on

Five years on

Today is the fifth anniversary of the February earthquake of 2011 which devastated Christchurch. During that time, we and our city have been through so many different phases.

 

Notes
The regeneration must not be bureaucratised

The regeneration must not be bureaucratised

Aaron Kreisler is Head of the School of Fine Art at the University of Canterbury. He talked to Bulletin about challenges and opportunities for the arts in our city and what art can contribute to the future of Christchurch.

Article
Sparks that fly upwards

Sparks that fly upwards

Curator Felicity Milburn remembers five years and 101 installations in a gallery without walls.

 

Interview
The last five years

The last five years

An oral history of the Gallery building, 2010-2015.

 

Director's Foreword
Everything is going to be alright

Everything is going to be alright

The cover of Bulletin 181 in September 2015 featured a miscellany of crates in storage, several marked fragile, one weighing 156kg, some with arrows indicating which way up they should be, others instructing the reopener to lay it flat first. Some bear an image of what’s inside. Ralph Hotere’s Malady Panels and Julia Morison’s Tootoo are there, one with a label, the other with an image of the installed piece. As I write this our collections remain in storage. A few new works and some which have been on loan are awaiting return from storage within other institutions.

My Favourite
Peter Stichbury's NDE

Peter Stichbury's NDE

Anna Worthington chooses her favourite work from the Gallery collection.

Article
Regional revitalization with art

Regional revitalization with art

Rei Maeda, coordinator of the Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale, writes on art’s contribution to the regeneration of a remote rural area of Japan.

 

Notes
What sort of city do we want our children's children to live in?

What sort of city do we want our children's children to live in?

Martin Trusttum, project manager for Ōtākaro Art by the River, and founder of temporary gallery space ArtBox, writes on the role of art in Christchurch.

Exhibition
Above Ground

Above Ground

An exhibition exploring the impact of architecture, imagination and memory.

Exhibition
Everything is Going to be Alright

Everything is Going to be Alright

Martin Creed's completely unequivocal, but also pretty darn ambiguous, work for Christchurch.

Exhibition
Cosmo

Cosmo

Once upon a time, there was a massive rabbit...

Exhibition
Michael Parekowhai: Chapman's Homer at PlaceMakers Riccarton

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.

Exhibition
David Cook: Meet Me in the Square

David Cook: Meet Me in the Square

Cathedral Square, Centennial Pool, Lancaster Park, schoolboys, punks, nuns – a photographic journey through 1980s Christchurch.

Notes
Holloway Press 1994-2014

Holloway Press 1994-2014

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. 

 

 

Exhibition
Paul Johns: South Pacific Sanctuary / Peraki / Banks Peninsula

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.

Exhibition
Proceed and Be Bold: The Pear Tree Press

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.

Notes

Repair Update - Base Isolation to begin

A technology that allows a building to effectively 'float' on its foundations during an earthquake is about to be applied to the Gallery.

Exhibition
Max Hailstone: Book and Typographic Designer

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).

Article
Transformers

Transformers

Curator Ken Hall writes about his experience of working with artists Chris Heaphy and Sara Hughes, as part of a small team with other city council staff and Ngāi Tahu arts advisors, on the Transitional Cathedral Square artist project.

Exhibition
Edwards+Johann: Rebels, Knights and Other Tomorrows

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.

Exhibition
Shane Cotton: Baseland

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.

Exhibition
Daniel Crooks: Seek Stillness in Movement

Daniel Crooks: Seek Stillness in Movement

Hectic city scenes transformed into contemplative meditations of extraordinary beauty.

Article
Quiet invasion

Quiet invasion

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.

Notes
Earthquake Momento

Earthquake Momento

The latest issue of Photoforum's MoMento journal (issue 14, January 2014) focuses on the work of three photographers with strong ties to Christchurch and their haunting images of this battered city post February 22, 2011.

 

Exhibition
Burster Flipper Wobbler Dripper Spinner Stacker Shaker Maker

Burster Flipper Wobbler Dripper Spinner Stacker Shaker Maker

A family-focused exhibition powered by the excitement of seeing ordinary things transformed in unexpected ways.

Article
Shifting Lines

Shifting Lines

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.

Article
Street urchins, blue moons and rare visions

Street urchins, blue moons and rare visions

Even in a city where surreal scenes have become somewhat routine, the sight of the Isaac Theatre Royal's eight-tonne dome, suspended like a great alien craft, had the power to turn heads and drop jaws. Preserved inside a strange white shroud while the theatre was slowly deconstructed around it was a jewel of Christchurch's decorative arts heritage – a 105 year-old Italianate plaster ceiling featuring a circular painted reverie on the theme of William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. The dome, along with the rest of the theatre, is currently being restored as part of an ambitious rebuild that is expected to be completed in 2015 at a cost of over $30 million.

Artist interview
The fault is ours: Joseph Becker on Lebbeus Woods

The fault is ours: Joseph Becker on Lebbeus Woods

There was a packed auditorium at CPIT in Christchurch this August when visiting San Francisco Museum of Modern Art curator Joseph Becker delivered a lecture on architect Lebbeus Woods. And it wasn't hard to guess why. In addition to many other achievements, Woods is renowned for his highly speculative project, Inhabiting the Quake. Senior curator Justin Paton spoke to Becker about Lebbeus Woods, and what Christchurch might learn from him.

Exhibition
Shifting Lines

Shifting Lines

Six artists use line to investigate space and structure in unexpected ways.

Exhibition
New Zealand Illustrated: Pictorial Books from the Victorian Age

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.

Article
Drawing from Life

Drawing from Life

In the beginning art was drawing.

Artist Profile
The endless newscape: Barry Cleavin’s inkjet prints

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.

Article
Yvonne Todd: The Wall of Man

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.

Exhibition
Bodytok Quintet: The Human Instrument Archive

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.

Exhibition
Glen Hayward: I don't want you to worry about me, I have met some Beautiful People

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.

Notes
1888 earthquake

1888 earthquake

Earthquake images from 125 years ago

Exhibition
Fernbank Studio: away past elsewhere

Fernbank Studio: away past elsewhere

A selection of hand-printed books from Wellington's Fernbank Studio.

Notes

Repairs start on Christchurch Art Gallery

Repair work has started on Christchurch Art Gallery, with the re-levelling tender that will relieve stress in the building's foundations having been awarded.

Exhibition
Boyd Webb: Sleep/Sheep

Boyd Webb: Sleep/Sheep

Boyd Webb contributes a new work to the Gallery's Sterescope programme.

Notes
The Army leaves

The Army leaves

With the removal of the final cordon around the red zone in the central city last weekend, I came in with my family to have a look around the newly reopened areas of the CBD. We stopped to watch the parade of soldiers who were being thanked by the Prime Minister, the Mayor of Christchurch and Kaiwhakahaere of Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu for their work in controlling the central city red zone and with community welfare in the immediate aftermath of the February earthquake.

Exhibition
Tony Oursler: Head Knocking

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.

Exhibition

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.

Exhibition
Faces from the Collection

Faces from the Collection

Treasured portraits populate empty spaces in our changing city.

Article
Christchurch Art Gallery is ten: highs and lows

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.

Article
Fall tension tension wonder bright burn want

Fall tension tension wonder bright burn want

Curator Felicity Milburn on Tony Oursler and the grotesque.

Artist interview
Gregor Kregar: Reflective Lullaby

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.

Exhibition
Roger Boyce: Painter Speaks

Roger Boyce: Painter Speaks

Grinning ventriloquist dummies are the stars of the show in Roger Boyce's Painter Speaks.

Exhibition
Face Books

Face Books

Portraits in books from the Christchurch Art Gallery Library collection.

Exhibition
Tony Oursler: Bright Burn Want

Tony Oursler: Bright Burn Want

The fantastically strange, inescapably human works of renowned video artist Tony Oursler.

Exhibition
Jess Johnson: Wurm Whorl Narthex

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.

Exhibition
Gregor Kregar: Reflective Lullaby

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.

Exhibition
Camp Blood: Hand-Painted Film Posters

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.

Exhibition
Francis Upritchard: Believer

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.

Exhibition
Sian Torrington: How you have held things

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

Notes
Sian Torrington Call Out

Sian Torrington Call Out

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.

Notes
Outer Space programme sees Canterbury arts graduate exhibit work in Showhome

Outer Space programme sees Canterbury arts graduate exhibit work in Showhome

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.

Exhibition
Steve Carr: Majo

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.

Exhibition
Seung Yul Oh: Huggong

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.

Exhibition
Reuben Paterson: Te Pūtahitangi ō Rehua

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.

Exhibition
Populate!

Populate!

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.

Exhibition
Toshi Endo: Wolf-Cub

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.

Exhibition
A Caxton Miscellany: The Caxton Press 1933–58

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.

Notes
A major boon to the Gallery in the direct aftermath of the earthquake

A major boon to the Gallery in the direct aftermath of the earthquake

English artist Sarah Lucas was installing her show in Two Rooms, Auckland, when the 22 February earthquake struck.

Exhibition
Brenda Nightingale: Christchurch Hills 2010–2012

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

Exhibition
Stereoscope #2: Robert Hood

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.

Exhibition
Stereoscope: Robin Neate

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.

Exhibition
Tricksters

Tricksters

Expect the rug to be pulled out from under your feet with the last exhibition in the Rolling Maul series.

Exhibition
De Lautour / Greig / Hammond

De Lautour / Greig / Hammond

An exciting opportunity to see new work by leading Canterbury artists Tony de Lautour, Jason Greig and Bill Hammond

Article
A miscellany of observable illustrations

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.

Artist interview
Shane Cotton

Shane Cotton

Back on 20 September 2011, when our public programmes team began setting up the Hagley Park Geo Dome for a talk with Shane Cotton, they put out about sixty chairs and would have been glad to fill them. After all, it was a cold night in Christchurch, the roads were rough, the Geo Dome was off the beaten track and the quake had long since broken the rhythm of the Gallery's old Wednesday night programme of public talks.

Exhibition
Shane Cotton: The Hanging Sky

Shane Cotton: The Hanging Sky

Touring Australia and New Zealand 2012–13

Notes
What they did with Christchurch cathedral

What they did with Christchurch cathedral

Lunchtime on a shining summer's day and you head for the ruin of Christchurch Cathedral. If you get there by twelve you can usually nab one of the bench seats along the back wall, where sun buckets down through the long-gone roof and warms the stonework behind you.

Exhibition
James Oram: but it’s worth it

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.

Exhibition
Concrete Propositions

Concrete Propositions

An explosive work of art in the central city.

Exhibition
Stereoscope: Kristin Hollis

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.

Exhibition
Miranda Parkes / Tjalling de Vries: Keep left, keep right

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.

Notes
Worcester Boulevard exhibition extended as publication developed

Worcester Boulevard exhibition extended as publication developed

The popularity of Reconstruction: Conversations on a City has led to the exhibition being extended until 14 October, and the development of a publication.

Exhibition
André Hemer: <del>CASS</del>

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.

Exhibition
Helen Calder: Orange Up

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.

Exhibition
Justene Williams: She Came Over Singing Like a Drainpipe Shaking Spoon Infused Mixers

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.

Exhibition
Ruth Watson: from white darkness

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.

Exhibition
Tjalling is Innocent

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.

Exhibition
Tony de Lautour: Unreal Estate

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.

Exhibition
Out of Place

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.

Notes
The inner binding now on display at the library

The inner binding now on display at the library

If you've not been down to the Central Library Peterborough yet now's a good time to do it.

Notes
(Way Out)er Spaces

(Way Out)er Spaces

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'...

Notes
Earthquake generosity

Earthquake generosity

We recently received this generous gift - from one quakeprone country to another

Artist interview
A Dark and Empty Interior

A Dark and Empty Interior

In B.167 senior curator Justin Paton documented his walk around the perimeter of Christchurch's red zone, and we featured the empty Rolleston plinth outside Canterbury Museum at the end of Worcester Boulevard. In this edition, director Jenny Harper interviews English sculptor Antony Gormley, who successfully animated another vacant central-city plinth—the so-called Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square, London. Gormley filled the plinth with 2,400 people, who occupied it for one hour each, night and day, for 100 days. Here, Jenny asks him about his practice, the value of the figurative tradition and whether he has any advice for Christchurch.

Article
Laying out Foundations

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.

Article
Cities of Remembrance

Cities of Remembrance

Nothing was more fascinating than ruins to me when I was growing up in one of the newest parts of the New World—new, anyway, to extensive buildings and their various forms of lingering collapse and remnant. The native people of California had mostly built ephemeral structures that were readily and regularly replaced and left few traces. Anything old, anything that promised to reach into the past, was magical for me; ruins doubly so for the usual aura of romance and loss that, like death, is most alluring to the young who have not seen much of it yet.

Exhibition
Phantom City: Doc Ross’s Christchurch 1998–2011

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.

Exhibition
Stereoscope #1: Robert Hood

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.

Exhibition
Here are the people and there is the steeple

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'.

Exhibition
Michael Parekowhai: On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer

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.

Exhibition
Hannah and Aaron Beehre: Waters Above Waters Below

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.

Notes
New Gallery programmes consider a city in transition

New Gallery programmes consider a city in transition

The possibilities for a city in transition will be considered in Re:actions for the city – a new series of public events that we are launching.

 

Exhibition
Georgie Hill and Zina Swanson: Breathing space

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.

Exhibition
Sam Harrison: Render

Sam Harrison: Render

Presenting new art from Christchurch, our Rolling Maul project series begins with a remarkable exhibition of sculptures by Sam Harrison.

Artist interview
Rolling Maul

Rolling Maul

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.

 

Exhibition
Elliot Collins: For those who stay behind

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.

Notes
The Boulevard of Broken Art

The Boulevard of Broken Art

Well before the earthquakes, Christchurch had a reputation as a tough town for public art. The city's public spaces are haunted by the ghosts of several major sculptures that never made it to completion. And several local sculptors still carry some psychological scar tissue from their forays into the public realm.

Exhibition
Ronnie van Hout: The creation of the world

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.

Exhibition
Julia Morison: Meet me on the other side

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'.

Exhibition
I seem to have temporarily misplaced my sense of humour

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.

Article
Here and Gone

Here and Gone

In the last issue of Bulletin, senior curator Justin Paton wrote about the way the Christchurch earthquakes 'gazumped' the exhibitions on display at the Gallery – overshadowing them and shifting their meanings. In this issue, with the Gallery still closed to the public, he considers the place of art in the wider post-quake city – and discovers a monument in an unlikely place.

Exhibition
Sara Hughes: United We Fall

Sara Hughes: United We Fall

A procession of politically charged colours

Notes
Doc Ross: photographing the red zone

Doc Ross: photographing the red zone

Sydenham-based photographer Doc Ross and his camera have been investigating the Christchurch urban environment for the past 14 years.

Exhibition
Matt Akehurst: You Are Here

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.

Exhibition
Julia Morison: Aibohphobia

Julia Morison: Aibohphobia

Julia Morison has turned the Gallery's squat grey bunker into a dizzying vision in dayglo green.

Exhibition
André Hemer: Things to do with paint that won't dry

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.

Exhibition
Jae Hoon Lee: Annapurna

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.

Exhibition
Scott Flanagan: Do You Remember Me Like I Do?

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.

Exhibition
Reconstruction: Conversations on a City

Reconstruction: Conversations on a City

In acknowledging architectural heritage loss in this city's present and past, this visually rich outdoor exhibition unfolds the ways in which dreams and values have been given form in our built environment.

Notes
The ghost of studios past

The ghost of studios past

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.

Exhibition
De-Building

De-Building

Sculptural surprises and architectural double-takes by renowned contemporary artists. De-Building is inspired by a moment usually hidden from viewers – when an exhibition ends and the 'de-build' begins. View it online