Friday, 29 June 2012

Tales from the Cloakroom

The majority of our blog entries come from back-of-house staff. But if you're after 'better work stories' the best place to go is our talented team of Gallery Guides. With visitors from all walks of life coming through the doors every day, they've all got stories to tell of an unusual encounter or a truly bizarre question.

Just as a taster, here's a list of the strangest things visitors have checked into the cloakroom:
  • An empty bowl of noodles
  • Half a beer
  • A large bowl of hummus
  • A herb garden in a bucket
  • Shoes
  • A ceremonial axe
  • A giant helium balloon
  • Many bunches of flowers
  • A whole raw fish
I guess we should be grateful none of these made it into the galleries! Thanks to Bella Burgess for compiling the list to date.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Receiving the Greg Semu Archive

One of the joys of being an archivist at the Auckland Art Gallery is the contact I have with artists, so it was with a great sense of anticipation that I arranged to meet with photographer Greg Semu on a recent visit to Auckland to discuss the deposit of his archive with the E H McCormick Research Library. Greg agreed to the long-term loan of his negatives, proof sheets and reels of film.  

When I went with one of our registrars to collect the material, our first archive from a Pacific artist, Greg asked whether he might add to the loan.  So now, we are lucky enough to have in addition, hundreds of prints, examples of Greg’s commercial work in the form of magazines and videos, exhibition ephemera and diaries, as well as the negatives.

Greg generously allowed the Research Library to exhibit items from the archive immediately. With Home AKL soon to be shown, we decided to mount a display in the Library’s exhibition case to celebrate the loan and give Gallery visitors some idea of the practice of a very significant New Zealand photographer. 

Better to Give: The Greg Semu Archive will be on display until Monday 22 October outside the Library entrance on the Mezzanine level. You can also find out more about all the artists represented in Home AKL (and ask them questions!) on the exhibition's Facebook page

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Upload statistics to Facebook and Flickr

After my illustrated lecture for the Auckland Photography Festival on the camera artists included in Home AKL, I wondered what are some of the statistics about photos being loaded into major sites on the web daily.

Photographer Chris Corson-Scott kindly researched this information and here is his report:

Number of photos uploaded to facebook:

per minute: 140,000

per hour: 8,400,000

per day: 201,600,000

Flickr is way behind with:

per minute:  3,500

per hour: 210,000

per day: 5,040,000

A visit to Documenta13

Our Assistant Registrar Fiona Moorhead has joined the ranks of Gallery bloggers to share some snapshots of her recent travels...

Documenta is a contemporary art event held in Kassel, Germany once every five years. During the 100 days of Documenta, the population of Kassel swells as hundreds of thousands of art fans make the pilgrimage to this small town in the middle of Germany.  You have to wonder how the town's citizens deal with this onslaught, and what they think of the strange and wonderful artworks left behind.  This year, for Documenta13, I made the journey, and here are a few thoughts and images I've taken away from this visit.
A notable feature of Documenta is the variety of venues: in addition to the main venues of traditional museum and gallery spaces, the event spreads across the city, invading city gardens, a planetarium, natural history museum, an abandoned hotel, shops, cinemas, the train station and a children's library, just to name a few.  Many artists present works that are incidental to the location in which they are presented, but some artists create works that respond to their environment. 
One artwork that had a strong connection to its location was Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller's work 'Alter Bahnhof Video Walk' which was based in the Kassel Hauptbahnhof (main train station). 
Visitors were invited to borrow an iPod loaded with a video and sound piece, which instructed you to follow the video maker's movements through the station.  The narrator mused on the physical location (taking you to the platform where trains departed to concentration camps during World War II), as well as more internal wanderings, through ideas of memory, place and relationships to loved ones.  The result was an intriguing form of augmented reality, where the events taking place in the video seemed to segue into reality.  The 'guided tour' feeling of the work offered another perspective to our experience of Documenta, where, armed with maps, we navigated through Kassel, trying to find Documenta venues, and sometimes encountering unexpected things along the way. 
With hundreds of artists' projects, lectures, congresses, film screenings, performances and other events, no one can possibly see the full gamut that Documenta has to offer. Instead, we all see just a small slice, and like our experience being guided around the train station by Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller, we are at times engaged with the physical experiences, and other times wrapped up in our own imaginations.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Pop Art Pets!

Andy Warhol’s portrait of a Daschund was the inspiration for our final studio session for Animals in Art. The idea that a pet dog could be the inspiration for an artwork really appealed to the children, and they loved looking at photos we had found of Warhol with his own pet Daschund Archie.

Working from photographs of their own pets, or favourite animals, the children combined collage, printing and ink drawing as they experimented with colour and multiples, with some great results!

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Animals in Art - The Studio's VIP (Very Important Pet!)

My darling dog Jackson joined us in the studio on the Animals in Art studio course! He was a hit with the kids and proved to be an exceptional model for them to draw. We were looking at the sixteenth century painting by Lavinia Fontana, Portrait of a Lady with a Dog.

After some preliminary sketches, we moved on to painting with acrylics and inks. As you can see the paintings are wonderful! The confident way the children worked with colour, line and pattern resulted in some very dynamic paintings.

Our regular artist Benny did a lovely painting of Jackson. When asked about his choices of colour for my white and black dog, he responded that ‘Jackson has fallen in the paint’! We love that and think that Benny’s dog may well become our Studio mascot.