Spring Time is Heart-break
In anticipation of our major summer exhibition, curatorial assistant Jane Wallace talked to five of the artists involved in the show. Working across a range of media, the twenty-five contemporary artists in Spring Time is Heart-break have a shared interest in storytelling. They consider ideas around communication, distance, memory, the body and materiality, generating works that gently reveal contemporary forms of image-making and circulation. How can we communicate through time, or in a different tongue? What do materials reveal to us as they are transformed from one state to another? From rimurapa harvesting to cavorting queer tableaux and fish ‘n’ chips, Heidi Brickell (Te Hika o Papauma, Ngāti Kahungunu, Ngāi Tara, Rangitāne, Rongomaiwahine, Ngāti Apakura), Priscilla Rose Howe, Lucy Meyle, and Steven Junil Park and John Harris share their energetic practices – a small glimpse of what will be on display this November.
Flitting, Gliding, Strutting, Cavorting
Ranking highly among the privately-owned works of art that have fallen across this curator’s path is an exquisite late-Georgian era album of Indian bird watercolours. This significant, previously unpublished folio contains twenty-five delicate watercolours and three small lithographs. Most paintings were produced collaboratively in 1826 by an interesting couple, Elizabeth (Eliza) Jane D’Oyly and her husband Charles Walter D’Oyly, the latter recognised in India as “perhaps the most famous of the amateur British artists who depicted the Indian scene.” A treasured gift from Elizabeth to her sister Isabella Gilbert in 1866, the album has stayed in the same family since then. It also carries sombre themes alongside its splendours.
In 2019, the Tate Modern staged a solo exhibition of the work of Russian artist Natalia Goncharova. It was the first time the artist had had a major retrospective in the UK, and the exhibition included her paintings, prints, costume designs and textiles. The exhibition presented reviewers with a twinned challenge: how to talk about an artist who was so little known in the UK, and one who was a woman?
Welcome to the world of Larence Shustak—a rule-breaker and image-maker who came of age in the creative cauldron that was New York City in the 1950s. He used a camera as a paintbrush, documenting as well as creatively interpreting his subjects: street people and nudes. Old folks and children. Jazz legends.
A Lifelong Affair
It may have been Rachel Hodgkins’ assertion during her daughters’ childhood in Dunedin that Isabel would be the painter in the family that drew out the stubborn streak in her younger daughter Frances. And indeed, as the fates were to prove, Isabel, once married, had to put aside her brushes for the most part to care for her family, while Frances, rather than making her way as a piano teacher as her mother had intended, chose a different course. Spurred on by her Italian tutor Girolamo Nerli’s descriptions of the bohemian life in Europe and the artistic revolution taking place in certain quarters, she set out for Europe, determined to prove her family’s assumptions wrong.
Len Lye's Learning Curve
One of the most dramatic aspects of the career of Len Lye (who was born in Christchurch in 1901 and died in Warwick, New York, in 1980) was his youthful search for information about the modernist revolution in art. This occurred throughout the early 1920s, when New Zealand was still (in Peter Tomory’s words) ‘a cultural wasteland’ and (in Eric McCormick’s) a ‘backwater of nineteenth-century civilisation.’
The Devil’s Blind Spot
Te Puna o Waiwhetū Christchurch Art Gallery has a long-standing tradition of curating exhibitions of emerging and early-career artists. We do this in order to contribute to the ecology of the local art world, as well as because – quite straightforwardly – we’re interested in the practices of artists at all stages of their careers, and would like to bring the work of outstanding younger artists to wider public attention. The Devil’s Blind Spot is the latest in this ongoing series, but unlike earlier exhibitions, it’s concerned with a single medium – photography.
Doris Lusk: An Inventive Eye
In the strange, stunned afterlife that ticked slowly by in the first few years following Christchurch’s February 2011 earthquake, a curious note of recognition sounded through the shock and loss. As a massive programme of demolitions relentlessly hollowed out the city, many buildings were incompletely removed and lingered on for months as melancholy remains – stumps abandoned in a forlorn urban forest. Hideous, sculptural, beautiful; they bore compelling resemblance to a body of paintings created in the city more than three decades earlier.
Neil Pardington: The Vault
Like a location scout with a projected narrative in mind, Neil Pardington has taken his large-format camera to museum storage spaces throughout New Zealand.
The Vault is the intensive and unexpectedly intense series of images that results-a compelling photographic record of where (and how) the nation's unseen treasures sit.
In Memory of Quentin MacFarlane
Staff at Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū were saddened to hear of the death of Quentin MacFarlane in July.