Spring is traditionally seen as a time of change, and these last few months have been no exception; since the last issue of the magazine was published in September we’ve made some significant changes at the Gallery.
Extinction has claimed nearly fifty per cent of Aotearoa New Zealand’s bird species over the past 650 years. The persistent myth has it that European settlement in the nineteenth century swept away a pristine past. And most obviously, because we know their names and can catalogue (literally) their infamy, that story includes the professional bird collectors as the cause of those extinctions.
Margaret Hudson-Ware's Let me see the paralysed man walk
Of the many pieces I love to visit at the Gallery, Let me see the paralysed man walk by Margaret Hudson-Ware is particularly special to me. “Ms. Hudson-Ware” was my art teacher from age 14 to 17 at Cashmere High School. She was a very stylish, bird-like woman – a kind of Coco Chanel in a pant suit. In the eighties, she managed to look utterly timeless; she sculpted her cheeks with burnt umber blush, a colour I could only imagine she’d mixed herself. The whole palette of her clothes and make up was very much what you see in the colours of this work.
Lisa Densem, Berlin, Germany
When I came to Berlin in 1999 to work with the dance company Sasha Waltz and Guests, I never imagined I would still be here twenty years later. Originally I thought one or two years at the most, but here I am. These days I work as a freelancer and breathwork teacher, and continue to tour, occasionally, with the piece I created with Sasha in 1999. Körper, or Bodies in English, became a well-known piece within the contemporary dance world and has never stopped touring (mostly with its original cast). It’s a strange experience, but also a privilege, to continue inhabiting a role twenty years after it was made.
The idea for an exhibition of Oceanic art originated from the Royal Academy itself, proposed in 2012 by its then artistic director Kathleen Soriano, an Australian. The exhibition was imagined to fit within the Academy’s occasional programme of ‘civilisation’ or ‘world art’ exhibitions, inaugurated in 1996 with the ground-breaking Africa: Art of a Continent, and followed by exhibitions such as Aztecs (2002), China (2005), Byzantium (2009) and others. These exhibitions sat among the gallery’s more usual fare of historical European, modern and contemporary art.
It is mid-summer in Venice, and the pervasive cacophony of cicada song cuts through the heat and oppressive humidity. New Zealand’s presence at the 58th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia is housed within the former headquarters of the Instituto di Scienze Marine, the Palazzina Canonica. Located on the Riva dei Sette Martiri, on the southern edge of the island, it is only a few hundred metres to the entrance of the Biennale’s Giardini, with its permanent national pavilions.
Appalling Moments and Abstract Elegies
Brent Harris is an Australian artist, well known for a practice that explores the productive tension between abstraction and figuration. By locating emotional content in figures that he develops from automatic drawing, his works frequently express an uneasy human subjectivity. But while his imagery deals with intense psychological states, it is often also darkly funny: monsters of the subconscious, both grotesque and ridiculous, rise to the surface in a process of emotional identification and gradual refinement.