Cerith Wyn Evans's Things are conspicuous in their absence...
I have never seen an artwork reflect something so true. “Things are conspicuous in their absence” is such an uncommonly heard reflection that it is eye-catching. When things are around us, they seem normal and often go unnoticed; the moment they are gone it can be startling and we wake up.
Juliet Peter's Harvesting, Rydal Downs
I grew up in a house in Glandovey Road, Fendalton—twenty-two bedrooms! Back then, my options were to be a nurse or a school teacher, but all my life, I’d wanted to be a farmer. My father encouraged that practical side of me. He was a keen fly fisherman and called me “sonny”. I had my hair cut at the barbers; I wore long pants in winter—I thought I was a boy.
Peter Stichbury's NDE
Anna Worthington chooses her favourite work from the Gallery collection.
Julian Dashper's Untitled 1996
Sound artist Paul Sutherland chooses his favourite work from the Gallery’s collection.
Elizabeth Kelly's Margaret
Many of us have works of art that are favourites, and these are often works that resonate with us or speak to us in some way. Margaret is one of those works for me. The portrait spends most of its time safely in storage at the art gallery but, for the summer of 1996–7, it and twenty-two other portraits by Elizabeth Kelly were shown at the Robert McDougall Art Gallery – Margaret graced the cover of the catalogue. The show brought a small ﬂurry of excitement around Christchurch and, about sixty years after she had sat for her portrait, Margaret turned up to the show.
Fiona Pardington’s Still Life with Barley Grass and Freesia, Waiheke
The most magical book I held in my hands as a child was called Ratsmagic, and it belonged to my sister. It was a dark, threatening masterpiece of a picture book, in which a bluebird is kidnapped by a witch, right when she is due to lay her egg. The animals in the valley where she lives whisper to one another “Bluebird is with egg, BLUEBIRD IS WITH EGG” with a fierce and mythological importance. A clever rat is sent to save her from her terrible fate.
Robin Neate's In a Lonely Place
I still fondly recall my initial exposure as a teen to Ian Curtis’s final and uncannily premonitory composition with Joy Division, In a Lonely Place. But with its violaceously autumnal palette, Robin Neate’s work of the same name feels far removed from the dismal granite grey of a Manchester morning, or even the stark monochrome of the 1950 Nicholas Ray film that both of these pieces appropriate their title from.
Tony de Lautour's Underworld 2
Underworld 2 is a must-see. I know, I know. Everything is a must-see or a must-read or a must-do in this society of superlatives and imperatives. But you really do need to be in the same room as this work. Underworld 2 is immense. You need to be in front of it—to be immersed, to be overwhelmed, to be confronted. I start at the left-hand side and plot my journey as if I am planning a road trip and this is my map; first south around the mountains, turn left, then keep going until you pass a lion on the right-hand side. Stop and take in the scenery, go down a dead-end road or two. There’s no rush. You’ll know when you’re there.
Ane Tonga's Seta
There’s a moment in my play Black Faggot when a gay Samoan man describes the moment he sees ‘this fine chocolate piece of mmmmmm’ on the dancefloor at a nightclub.
‘…he looked over at me and then he smiled and then I was like, Damn, he’s a Tongan. He had a mouthful of gold in there…’
Olivia Spencer Bower's Menzies Bay
This work of art paints connections for me – to people, to this landscape and this place. My great-great-grandparents John Henry Menzies and Francis Elizabeth Menzies settled here in the 1870s. I was intrigued to discover that, way back then, the Christchurch parochial attitude was already well established. When he purchased the land John Henry encountered difficulty at the land office; he wrote, ‘A map was the first step. I was a stranger. You must not, even now be a stranger in Canterbury. Not one of the clerks would take any notice of me. It was entirely a case of favouritism.’