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Sparks that fly upwards

Installation view of Ash Keating Concrete Propositions 2012. Photo: John Collie

Installation view of Ash Keating Concrete Propositions 2012. Photo: John Collie

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

 

Looking back to when Christchurch Art Gallery’s Outer Spaces programme was launched in 2008, I'm struck by our easy confidence in the future—which seemed to stretch out ahead with reassuring predictability—and by the excitement we felt at the prospect of expanding art’s reach beyond our usual exhibition spaces and out onto the building's external walls, forecourt and other operational areas. It felt adventurous—ambitious even—as Fiona Pardington’s ghostly image of a glass Charlotte Jane glowed from our giant backlit billboard over Worcester Boulevard and André Hemer deployed molten, oozing colour to reactivate our water feature with Things to do with paint that won’t dry. By early 2011, the programme was in what felt like full swing, with a regular beat of projects enlivening an increasing number of sites across the Gallery footprint.

That February’s earthquake, however, which within a few, frantic hours transformed the building into an operations centre for Civil Defence, forced a rapid and radical adjustment of the Outer Spaces boundaries. With our public locked out, and no known reopening date—or at least, none that stuck—we 1 had to think past our collection and our art-friendly, environmentally-controlled building, shifting our sightlines instead to the violently changed, and still changing, expanses of the central city.

We had our doubts. How would people respond to art touching down in a city still raw from disaster? What kind of impact could we hope to have in the context of such widespread destruction? How, in city streets left unrecognisable as familiar landmarks were relentlessly demolished and trucked away, would audiences find our projects, supposing they even wanted to? And yet, as the weeks wore on, it became increasingly clear that Christchurch’s new enemy was not the still-frequent aftershocks, but the insidious, grinding bleakness of the recovery. Stoked in no small part by the enthusiasm of then-senior curator Justin Paton, our confidence grew that art could be part of the solution. Press releases from that time declare our intentions with considerably more assurance than we felt: we’d establish a gallery without walls, we declared, injecting ‘moments of surprise, humour, colour and wonder into the post-quake Christchurch streetscape’.

The first two projects unfolded on our own forecourt: Julia Morison’s Aibohphobia wrapped our unsightly carpark bunker with a dizzying pattern in on-trend hi-vis, and Matt Akehurst’s signpost sculpture You are here referenced our complicated, long-distance relationship with international culture. Then, in December 2011, the Gallery collaborated with Gap Filler to help Wayne Youle pull off I seem to have temporarily misplaced my sense of humour, his super-sized mural in Sydenham. What we didn’t know then (and we didn’t know a lot) was that the Outer Spaces programme would not only expand geographically, but also accelerate. In the almost-five-years between our closure and (imminent) reopening, the Gallery eventually realised 101 individual projects in and around the central city.

 

Gallery team installing Wayne Youle I seem to have temporarily misplaced my sense of humour 2011. Acrylic house paint on concrete. Photo: John Collie

Gallery team installing Wayne Youle I seem to have temporarily misplaced my sense of humour 2011. Acrylic house paint on concrete. Photo: John Collie

Ash Keating creating Concrete Propositions 2012. Acrylic house paint on concrete. Courtesy the artist and Fehily Contemporary, Melbourne Australia. Photo: John Collie

Ash Keating creating Concrete Propositions 2012. Acrylic house paint on concrete. Courtesy the artist and Fehily Contemporary, Melbourne Australia. Photo: John Collie

Even now, there’s plenty that’s shocking and disorienting about central Christchurch, but in those first years it really was like venturing onto a new frontier. Several of the sites we co-opted were at the edge of the emergency cordon, and during installation we’d encounter far more civil defence workers, engineers and army personnel than casual passers-by. There’s a great photograph, taken by Gallery photographer John Collie, of Australian artist Ash Keating. He’s in the midst of creating his huge, colourful wall painting Concrete Propositions, a Gap Filler/Christchurch Art Gallery collaboration that involved Keating firing paint from numerous devices, including the fire extinguishers he’s carrying. He’s making an artwork, of course, not bringing down a government, and his once-pristine tracksuit was acquired specially for the performance, yet something about his post-apocalyptic attire and sense of grim purpose sums up for me the wild-west/urban-revolution ambience of those times. As envoys from a public institution, we were working well outside our comfort zone, but there was also an intoxicating whiff of freedom in the air, as though the earthquakes had somehow recalibrated and democratised Christchurch’s unwritten rules of access, replacing its customary default resistance to public art with a new (and, we assumed, temporary) tolerance. For a while at least, the challenges we faced when siting works in the cityscape were primarily logistical, rather than political.

Unpredictable, and often excruciatingly inconvenient, weather may not have been scientifically verified as a post-quake phenomenon, but we certainly had our share of it, from the sleet and snow that accompanied the set-up of Sian Torrington’s How you have held things, an intricate installation constructed from salvaged materials on an empty section in Avonside’s Red Zone, to the typhoon-like weather-bomb that dropped in just as Ronnie van Hout’s Comin’ Down went up on the roof garden of the old post office in High Street. The Gallery team meticulously painting Wayne Youle’s mural—not only the 95 objects, but each of the more than 10,000 dots—baked in the hot sun for most of the installation period, then found themselves running for cover as rain poured down on the last available day. Just as they were huddling together, working out how to explain to the curator (Justin Paton) that they’d warned him it was a weather-dependent project, the sky cleared. Scrambling, they finished on time, wiping up the by-now dripping paint as they went along.

 

Installation view of Sian Torrington’s How you have held things 2013. Salvaged materials. Photo: John Collie

Installation view of Sian Torrington’s How you have held things 2013. Salvaged materials. Photo: John Collie

As time went by, the post-quake art scene grew considerably, with an increasingly diverse range of players, from institutions and collectives to independent artists, ensuring that a wide spectrum of practice emerged throughout the city. Accustomed to the relative hermetic sanctity of our institutional white cube, it required an undeniable adjustment of perspective to see our carefully orchestrated projects bump up against art works (graffiti included) with a completely different aesthetic. There was no telling what our works might end up sitting next to; once up they were released into an evolving context as the city changed around them. Judging by the response of one tagger—who objected to us pasting up a large-scale reproduction of Tony Fomison’s No! over a pre-existing tag, the sense of frisson was mutual. ‘Keep your shit 4 the Gallery,’ it hissed. Fair enough, we felt like replying, we would if we could. If it wasn’t a new artwork going up around the corner, it was a wall coming down—sometimes one we had pegged for a project: the chaotic and rapidly changing nature of the urban environment could not have been further removed from the serene constancy of the Gallery. We honed our flexibility and Zen-like acceptance by the day, but, as usual, the artists we worked with were always far cooler about this sort of thing than we were.

Working from site to site on one-off projects proved as exhausting as it was invigorating, so three temporary spaces gave us a welcome place to hang our hats and—crucially—restore some kind of continuity for our visitors. In 2012, we leased an upstairs room in the NG building at 212 Madras Street, a Victorian warehouse lovingly restored and strengthened by Roland Logan and Sharon Ng. The conversion of this space into a gallery involved not only clearing it of several years’ worth of accumulated furniture and other objects, but wire-brushing sections of the ceiling that had been charred from a previous fire, installing lighting tracks and, later, a degree of environmental control. Steel reinforcing beams gave the space an appealingly rugged character and the view out of the end windows, across the most ravaged parts of the city, was jaw-dropping from every angle. It’s hard to imagine a better location for our first show there, Julia Morison’s Meet me on the other side, a tense and disconcerting meditation on the transformation and loss that characterised the earthquakes.

Fulfilling a promise the artist made to the city following the quakes, Michael Parekowhai’s Venice Biennale exhibition On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer was reconfigured for the NG space—with the intricately carved red piano, He Kōrero Pūrākau mo te Awanui o Te Motu: Story of a New Zealand River, installed upstairs, overlooking two bronze bulls on pianos on the rough ground outside. One of the Gallery’s visitor hosts, Michael Purdie, remembers standing at the window, looking out over the devastated cityscape in the winter twilight, while a pianist played ‘something quite beautiful, Chopin I think’. Parekowhai’s bulls prompted many connections during that exhibition—children swarmed over them, helmeted motorcyclists patted glossy black rumps with grudging admiration, and they caused near-misses as drivers gave them a too-long second glance—but it was the sound of that piano, combined with the end-of-the-world-as–you-knew-it view, that brought several of our visitors to tears.

 

Installation view of Michael Parekowhai’s He Korero Parakau mo Te Awanui o Te Motu: story of a New Zealand river 2011. Wood, ivory, brass, lacquer, steel, ebony, paua shell, resin, mother of pearl. Collection of Te Papa. Photo: John Collie

Installation view of Michael Parekowhai’s He Korero Parakau mo Te Awanui o Te Motu: story of a New Zealand river 2011. Wood, ivory, brass, lacquer, steel, ebony, paua shell, resin, mother of pearl. Collection of Te Papa. Photo: John Collie

Installation view of Burster Flipper WobblerDripper Spinner Stacker Shaker Maker 2014. Photo: John Collie

Installation view of Burster Flipper WobblerDripper Spinner Stacker Shaker Maker 2014. Photo: John Collie

ArtBox, constructed from a cluster of modular steel cubes, was set up by CPIT on an empty section in the CBD as part of a short-term creative precinct and we were invited to programme its first year of exhibitions. The compact layout, intersecting views and natural light presented some challenges, but it proved an ideal venue for Bodytok Quintet, an interactive video installation by New Zealand sound artist Phil Dadson. After that, it hosted the ebullient Burster Flipper Wobbler Dripper Spinner Stacker Shaker Maker, an exhibition of contemporary work by New Zealand and Australian artists that placed the emphasis on the act of making, and was intended to appeal to children and families. A temporary onsite classroom allowed our educators to accommodate regular school groups and holiday classes. When we planned the show, in response to extremely limited opportunities for young art viewers in post-quake Christchurch, we weren’t certain that parents would want to bring their children so far into the city, still resounding with the impacts of constant demolition. When we opened with a family fun day, however, around 2,500 people attended, and a steady flow of visitors continued throughout the exhibition’s run.

Our third temporary gallery (only recently vacated) was situated above C1 café in the old post office building on the High/Tuam corner and had the most conventional fit-out. First hosting Huggong, Seung Yul Oh’s enormous, space-hogging balloons, it was later divided into two rooms, which facilitated a range of exhibitions, from a meditative Tai Chi ‘time-slice’ by Daniel Crooks 2 to the elegant, thoughtful group show Shifting Lines.

We continued to refresh our existing sites on the Gallery’s exterior and forecourt with new works, and added a few new locations nearby. Tim J. Veling’s photograph of a brick wall 3 took up temporary residence across one of our closed-off entrances, and the old villa opposite the Gallery on Worcester Boulevard housed a series of increasingly off-beat projections by the likes of Ronnie van Hout, Justene Williams and Steve Carr. 4 Tjalling de Vries’ monumental paste-up of paper sheets on the rear wall of the CoCA building, revealed new layers of imagery as the wind and rain gradually peeled it away. 5 The new Central Library Peterborough provided both the setting for a work by Richard Killeen and also a venue for a series of book-related exhibitions. 6

Installation view of Ronnie van Hout The creation of the world 2011. Digital video. Collection of the artist. Photo: John Collie

Installation view of Ronnie van Hout The creation of the world 2011. Digital video. Collection of the artist. Photo: John Collie

Installation view of Tjalling de Vries Tjalling is innocent 2012. Paper collage. A Christchurch Art Gallery Outer Spaces project in association with CoCA. Photo: John Collie

Installation view of Tjalling de Vries Tjalling is innocent 2012. Paper collage. A Christchurch Art Gallery Outer Spaces project in association with CoCA. Photo: John Collie

Above all else, the post-quake environment fostered adaptation, and many of our projects were realised in ways that we might not have previously considered. They included a poster run featuring Elliot Collins’ delicately optimistic word paintings 7 and special artist publications in the form of Christchurch Hills, a hand-stitched book of watercolour drawings by Brenda Nightingale and Unreal Estate, Tony de Lautour’s mordant commentary on the post-quake property market. Realised as a series of printed billboards that stretched down Worcester Boulevard, Reconstruction: Conversations on a City traced the history of Christchurch Ōtautahi through its built heritage and the walk-through format proved surprisingly satisfying and rewarding.

The motivation for most of our projects was simple; where we saw an opportunity to make good art happen, we tried to grab it. Rolling Maul had an additional purpose, addressing the desperate lack of exhibition venues for local artists. Conceived as a single, multi-artist exhibition to which new works were added each week, it was originally slated for the Gallery’s eagerly anticipated reopening in July 2011. When that date was indefinitely deferred, Rolling Maul was put on hold until we established our temporary space in the NG building—it eventually ran out as a nine-part exhibition series, featuring solo and small group exhibitions by 18 artists with Christchurch connections.

In all of this activity, a lingering regret remained—the continued absence of the city’s collection, locked in secure storage back at the Gallery. In fact, the collection was not static at all; it had to be shifted several times to accommodate repair work within and beyond the building, but although we lent as many works as we could to institutions throughout the country, for insurance reasons, we were largely unable to display collection works elsewhere in Christchurch. To counteract this, we exhibited Faces from the collection, a series of reproductions on walls around the city. Not quite the real thing, they nevertheless allowed the public to reengage with the collection and the combination of historical portraits with contemporary urban life provided for intriguing and often rewarding juxtapositions.

 

Installation view of Elliot Collins For those who stay behind 2012. Ink on paper. A Christchurch Art Gallery Outer Spaces project. Photo: John Collie

Installation view of Elliot Collins For those who stay behind 2012. Ink on paper. A Christchurch Art Gallery Outer Spaces project. Photo: John Collie

Installation view of Scott Flanagan’s Do You Remember Me Like I Do 2012, part of the Rolling Maul series of exhibitions. Photo: John Collie

Installation view of Scott Flanagan’s Do You Remember Me Like I Do 2012, part of the Rolling Maul series of exhibitions. Photo: John Collie

These days, as Christchurch Art Gallery's reopening draws closer with every Fulton Hogan shift, our focus is squarely back on getting it alive and humming with great art. Rediscovering our exhibition spaces, we’re imagining them filled again with people, who'll be renewing their connections with our collection, marooned in storage for almost five years. Beyond our newfound (and heart-felt) appreciation for luxuries like a well-stocked tool cupboard, environmental controls and a stable address, it’s yet to be seen how the experiences of our earthquake years will affect the way the Gallery operates in the years to come, and how far we’ll stretch our programmes beyond the boundaries of our site. Like most institutions, we’d talked often in the past about the power and importance of art, but seeing it in action, during moments when even brief interactions could have a lasting impact, inevitably strengthens our sense of purpose. Outside our walls, projects felt more peripheral than when they took centre stage in the gallery environment, but they were also somehow more alive in the rough and tumble of the real world. It seems to me to be entirely appropriate that the work that signs off our gallery without walls years is Martin Creed's 45 metre technicolour beacon Work No. 2314, reading ‘everything is going to be alright’. If the last half-decade is anything to go by, we might best regard it as less of a comforting platitude and more of a call to arms.

 

Installation view of Tony Oursler’s video work Fist, part of Bright Burn Want, 2013. Photo: John Collie

Installation view of Tony Oursler’s video work Fist, part of Bright Burn Want, 2013. Photo: John Collie

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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.

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

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.

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.

Notes
Another Brick In The Wall

Another Brick In The Wall

Coming across an undamaged, fully standing, curved brick wall in the battered eastern suburbs is something of a rarity.

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
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.

Notes
Wayne’s workshop

Wayne’s workshop

Wayne Youle ran a two-day workshop for 25 teenagers over the weekend. Students from an array of local Christchurch secondary schools were challenged to keep up with Wayne's non-stop energy... and to learn creative and design skills.

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
Aw, bless their little aerosol-coated hearts

Aw, bless their little aerosol-coated hearts

Let it not be said that Christchurch's vandals, ahem, street artists, lack a sense of community spirit.

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.

Notes
Where in the world is this year's first outer space?

Where in the world is this year's first outer space?

So Wayne's wall is all done (and gloriously untagged) and Ronnie's peering out nightly over the Boulevard.

Notes
Shine on you crazy public art diamond

Shine on you crazy public art diamond

Just one last weather report, before this blog starts looking like a franchise of metservice.com...

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.

Notes
LOVING THE BULLDOG

LOVING THE BULLDOG

You could be forgiven for thinking that Wayne Youle is giving the French Bulldog a big hug.

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'.

Notes
What's going on in Sydenham?

What's going on in Sydenham?

Your father or grandfather probably had one. Maybe you've created one of your own. Possibly there's one on a wall at home, left there by a previous owner.

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

Notes
New bunker work installed

New bunker work installed

We've just had Wayne Youle in, creating a new work for the Gallery's carpark bunker.