B.189

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ISBN: 1176-0540

Magazine

In this edition of Bulletin Roger Horrocks— writer, film-maker and former assistant to Len Lye— looks at Lye’s wonderful sketchbooks, which are exhibited in Len Lye: Stopped Short by Wonder.  in this show. We also have a wonderful new essay from Richard Shiff, Effie Marie Cain Regents Chair in Art at the University of Texas at Austin. Laurence Simmons, professor of film studies at the University of Auckland, looks at the journey in the context of our new exhibition The Weight of Sunlight, and Rodney Swan, an adjunct academic at the University of New South Wales, Sydney, explores the idea of Matisse’s Jazz as a strategic instrument of cultural resistance in occupied France.

Petrena Fishburn, collection curator at the Aigantighe Art Gallery, profiles the remarkable Barbara Brooke – co-founder of Christchurch’s Brooke Gifford Gallery and editor of the Caxton Press’s short-lived but influential Ascent magazine. And, in support of our Your Hotel Brain exhibition, we examine the nineties arts scene in New Zealand through the eyes of the people who were working at the time. My Favourite is supplied by Rachael King, who finds a family connection in a work by Joanna Margaret Paul. And our Postcard comes from Josephine Rout in London. Pagework is by 2016 Frances Hodgkins Fellow Miranda Parkes. As well as looking forward, in the Year in Review we look back on a range of measures of our success, from books published and attendance at public programmes and events to selected highlights from our new Design Store’s first year of trading.

Oh, and it's got the Ramones on the cover! And Bowie inside, photographed by Laurence Aberhart. Pretty stoked about that really. 

Pages: 64

Dimensions: 265 x 215mm

Imprint: Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu


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The Weight of Sunlight

The Weight of Sunlight

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Your Hotel Brain

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A new wall painting for Christchurch by internationally acclaimed English artist, Bridget Riley.

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Henri Matisse: Jazz

Henri Matisse: Jazz

One of the most-loved artworks of the twentieth century

Director's Foreword
Director's Foreword

Director's Foreword

However cold or wet it is as I write this (and certainly it’s raining at present), our September Bulletin heralds the coming of spring, and with it, the promise of growth, renewal and hope.

Commentary
Your Hotel Brain

Your Hotel Brain

We recently opened a new collection-based exhibition, Your Hotel Brain. Curated by Lara Strongman, it focuses on the cohort of New Zealand artists who came to national – and in some cases international – prominence in the 1990s. The title of the exhibition is a phrase drawn from Don DeLillo’s epic novel, Underworld, published in 1997. It gestures towards the way that pieces of information float through your mind, checking in and out, everything demanding attention, everything happening all at once – a metaphor for postmodernism in the 1990s and for the increasing slippage of context in the digital era. The 1990s were a time of great social and cultural change in Aotearoa New Zealand, set against a broader backdrop of globalisation and the rise of digital technologies. Artists, as ever, registered these cultural shifts early. We asked a number of people who were working in the arts at the time to recall their experiences of the 1990s.

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Laurence Aberhart

Laurence Aberhart

New Zealand artist Laurence Aberhart is internationally regarded for his photographs of unpeopled landscapes and interiors. He photographs places redolent with the weight of time, which he captures with his century-old large-format camera and careful framing. But he’s always taken more spontaneous photographs of people too, particularly in the years he lived in Christchurch and Lyttelton (1975–83) when he photographed his young family, his friends and occasionally groups of strangers. ‘If I lived in a city again,’ he says, ‘I would photograph people. One of the issues is that I even find it difficult to ask people whether I can photograph a building, so to ask to photograph them – I’m very reticent. I also know that after a number of minutes of waiting for me to set cameras up and take exposure readings and so on, people can get rather annoyed. So it’s not a conscious thing, it’s more just an accident of the way I photograph.’

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Our Instinct Enhanced

Our Instinct Enhanced

What does Bridget Riley’s art mean? We might imagine that a wall painting titled Cosmos (2016–17) referred to life within a cosmos, an order than encompasses us, whether natural or divine. The designation connotes a degree of philosophical speculation, unlike the direct descriptions that Riley occasionally employs as titles, such as Composition with Circles. But whatever meaning we derive from viewing Cosmos will be no more intrinsic to it than its name. Attribution of meaning comes after the fact and requires our participation in a social discourse. Every object or event to which a culture attends acquires meaning; and Riley’s art will have the meanings we give it, which may change as our projection of history changes. Meaning, in this social and cultural sense, is hardly her concern.

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See Italy and Die

See Italy and Die

‘A man who has not been to Italy is always conscious of an inferiority, from his not having seen what it is expected a man should see.’
Samuel Johnson, 1776

As every traveller knows, there is something obsessive about setting out on a journey: the preparatory work of consulting guides, the organisation of itineraries, the accommodation pre-booked, bags packed with essentials, provisions for the journey assembled. This essay explores the metaphor of a journey, with the particular Italian twist that informs the work of the artists gathered together in the exhibition The Weight of Sunlight.

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Len Lye's Learning Curve

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.’

My Favourite
Joanna Margaret Paul's Barrys Bay: Interior With Bed And Doll

Joanna Margaret Paul's Barrys Bay: Interior With Bed And Doll

I never met Joanna Paul, but I believe that she and my late father, Michael King, were good friends. After my father died in 2004, I found a large diptych frame with a photo of Joanna on one side, and Irihapeti Ramsden on the other; both black and white and young and charismatic—two women he admired greatly who had both died in the preceding year. The frame was folded shut, on top of a bookcase in his study, as if in hiding. I took it down and set it open on his desk overlooking the estuary at Opoutere.

Postcard From...
Postcard From...

Postcard From...

Kia ora Ōtautahi

Earthquakes, tsunamis, fires and floods – Christchurch certainly knows how to remind the world it exists. I moved to London just after the September earthquake in 2010 and since then my life here has been punctuated by worry for my hometown. It is strange to be on such sturdy land. But it is here in this conflicted and complicated city that I have managed to find a state of equilibrium – living in a Hackney warehouse and working as an assistant curator in the Asian Department at the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Commentary
Barbara Brooke: The Woman Behind Ascent

Barbara Brooke: The Woman Behind Ascent

The 1960s brought television, youth culture, jet aircraft and The Beatles to New Zealand. It also saw the emergence of the professional contemporary artist. Dealer galleries were on the rise across the country, devoted to the promotion and sale of contemporary artists’ work, particularly through solo shows, and with them came the possibility of an acknowledged career with the objective of full-time practice. Artists were producing work with a general sense of confidence and this lively art community needed to be documented.