Wellcome to Māoriland
London’s Wellcome Collection was founded by Sir Henry Solomon Wellcome (1853–1936) in the year he died. An incredibly successful US-born, British pharmaceutical entrepreneur, Wellcome had a penchant for collecting medical and health-related artefacts, which formed the basis of the Collection. He didn’t restrict himself to the more obvious examples of early medical technology, however, but also collected in the area of folk remedies and indigenous cultural objects, which were largely acquired through London auction houses. Browsing the Wellcome Collection’s online catalogue, Aotearoa New Zealand photographer Fiona Pardington (Kāi Tahu, Kāti Mamoe, Ngāti Kahungunu, Clan Cameron) encountered what at first glance looked to be a number of heitiki; however, on closer inspection they did not seem quite right.
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.
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.
Te Āhua o te Hau ki te Papaioea
The ‘Operation 8’ anti-terror raids in October of 2007 were the culmination of a police investigation that led to the raiding of homes across New Zealand. The raids were conducted after an extended period of surveillance, which was enabled through use of the 2002 Terrorism Suppression Act. In 2013 the Independent Police Conduct Authority found that police had “unnecessarily frightened and intimidated” people during the raids.
What We Talk About With McCahon
Where to begin when writing or talking about Colin McCahon? I remember seeing one of his paintings for the first time, a North Otago landscape painted deep green with a sunless white sky on a piece of hardboard, hanging at the Forrester Gallery in Ōamaru while on a family trip when I was a young teenager. I felt like I recognised the landscape depicted from what I saw around me growing up, but I hadn’t seen it reduced to something so stark and primal before.
Raising a Glass
Bill Culbert died aged 84 on 28 March this year at his home in the Vaucluse region of Provence. Built from dilapidated farm buildings on a small hilltop at a deserted hamlet called Croagnes, it’s a home that he and his wife Pip began to establish in 1961. Then, the region was a sparsely populated economic backwater – the Culberts bought the hilltop buildings for just £100. In the valleys and on the surrounding slopes were a few small vineyards and farms. A 1962 painting, Gerard Going to Work, shows their neighbour, the farmer Felix Gerard, trudging off down the stony hillside wearing a wide- brimmed hat like the one worn by Vincent van Gogh at Arles.
Doctor Jazz Stomp and the Webb Lane Sound
“Bill Hammond is long, lithe and tired, and was born several years ago. Is currently pursuing a Fine Arts course and trying hard to catch up. He is deeply interested in the aesthetic implications of sleep, sports the Rat-Chewed Look in coiffures for ’68, and dreams about blind mice in bikinis. He has never been known to sing outside the confines of his bedroom. Shows a marked but languid preference for the subtle textural nuances and dynamic shadings of washboard, cowbell, woodblocks, claves, cymbal, spoons, thimbles, tambourine, and the palms of the hands in percussive contact.”
Power and Possibility
Jonathan Jones, art critic for the Guardian newspaper, described it as “a spectacle that displays the power and mystery of our planet”. Made more than forty years ago, Walter De Maria’s 1977 sculpture The Lightning Field remains one of the world’s most ambitious manifestations of light-based art.
The Time Problem
Time is a problem in the contemporary world. There is simply not enough of it. Our to-do lists are too long; the time available to do what needs to be done is too short; the demands on our attention are increasingly brutal. Digital technologies track the minutiae of how we spend our days, but the sheer speed at which things seem to be happening makes it difficult to keep up.
Do You See?
With the death of Julie King late in 2018, art and art history in Aotearoa New Zealand lost one of its great champions and major scholars. Julie was born in Yorkshire and grew up and was educated in Alnwick, Northumberland; she moved to Christchurch in 1975 to take up a role lecturing in the newly formed art history department at the University of Canterbury. She retired three decades later, having pioneered the teaching of New Zealand art in Canterbury.