Tuesday 15 April 2008

Walters Prize finalists announced

The Walters Prize finalists have been announced.

They are:

Edith Amituanai for Déjeuner 2007 Anna Miles Gallery, Auckland.
Lisa Reihana for Digital Marae 2007 Govett-Brewster Gallery, New Plymouth.
John Reynolds for Cloud 2006 Biennale of Sydney, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney.
Peter Robinson for ACK 2006 Artspace, Auckland.

For more infomation click here.

This biennial award recognises an artist who has made an outstanding contribution to contemporary art in New Zealand in the two years prior. Named in honour of artist Gordon Walters.

Let us know what you think of the nominations by leaving a comment.

Gordon Walters (1919-1995)

Saturday 12 April 2008

Speculation makes the Walters Prize go round

Interesting that the Over the Net blog is already speculating about this years Walters Prize finalists. My only suggestion would be to link to our website here, rather than the NZ Contemporary website for the most up to date information when it is released. Good to know specualtion has begun though.

Thursday 10 April 2008

The word of the day

Today was a good one, so much information at the conference and such great presenters.

I won't go into all the details but the main draw for me was a talk by Sebastian Chan and Angelina Russo on Planning Social Media in Museums (blogs, wikis, digital stories...). How to use it, when to use it and how important it is that museums and galleries become part of this online world, and online communities. In fact the word “community” was a major factor in the presentation.

The idea that there are ready-made communities of users that you can tap into or give a voice to online is fascinating. We concentrate so often on the physical visitor, the idea of building a community online or a group of communities seems something that is worth considering as it bypasses any problems physical sites have in regard to location (the internet is everywhere), access (most people are online in some form or another, disabilities can perhaps more easily be provided for than on an onsite location) and speed of growth (an online community can grow incredibly fast by word of mouth internationally). In turn this online community ma become onsite visitors, or may still experience the institution online in a rewarding way.

Just my thought for the evening. Love to know what you think?

image: www.digitalmediagalaxy.com/ category/podcasts/feed

Podcasting for the people

Unknown, Man Thinking, etching, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki, gift of Mr G M Mitford, 1883

Before going to sleep I thought about some discussion on Podcasting that happened in a workshop yesterday. What could we produce as a series of podcast. Should it be behind the scenes, discussions on particular works of art, artists interviews…..

Where to start, so I thought if there is anyone out there reading this maybe I would ask you. What would you like to hear from the Auckland Art Gallery. Let me known, if we know it’s wanted by our audience it’s a great start.

NB. I couldnt find an image in our collection with the description thinking woman hence the Man Thinking.

Wednesday 9 April 2008

Back to the future for a minute or two

Backtracking a bit to my trip to the Art Gallery of Greater Vancouver that I saw while on Vancouver Island.

As well as the usual collection exhibitions I also saw an amazing installation by Graeme Patterson called Woodrow. This contained a number of building structures, animals and people made in miniature and inside the buildings there were animations being shown of stories which re-create an imaginative view of the real-life village of Woodrow, Saskatchewan (in the middle of Canada apparently, from the installation, not the busiest of places).

The stories were totally amazing, from men hiding each others underpants to a deer and a monkey chasing each other through the town with the help of a ghost subway train. The animations were totally beautiful and although some of the creatures were a bit spooky there was so much humour as well. Totally enthralling and surprising in this gallery that proves never presume what you will see in an institution from it’s size or proximity.

Graeme Patterson, The Deer, 2006, wood, foam, foam-core, fur, rubber, electronics, Collection of the Artist


Bonjour à tous de Montréal
Finally I arrive at the heart of my visit to Canada, the beautiful French/English city of Montreal. The city seems much grittier and older than Vancouver. It certainly has a French air to it and everyone seems to walk just that little bit slower.

I have managed to brush up on my school French and therefore have not starved. Some places seem to speak English and some French but I am trying to use as much French as possible. As my first day was a Monday of course all galleries/museums were closed so I gave myself a tour of as much of Montreal as I could. Here is a few photos.

Viex Montreal (Old Montreal) with its lovely buildings, churches and cathedrals

Marche Bon Secours (1846) in Vieux Montreal

McGill University, the snow, and a sculpture of founder James McGill surveying the land. A beautiful university which holds the Redpath Museum of zoology, geology and ethnological pursuits (image below). The taxidermied animals here were fantastic, and the huge Albertoaurus skeleton in the centre was certainly intimidating.

Tuesday 8 April 2008

Speedy tour of Vancouver and Vancouver Island

As I am so far behind in my trip im going to catch up with a quick photo tour of the last few days. I visited Granville Island in Vancouver which was fantastic and houses the Emily Carr Art Institue and its Gallery which was very interesting. The i took the ferry over to Vancouver Island and had a great time, visiting the Vancouver Island Art Gallery which I will explain more of at another time. Until then here are some photos of some of the things I saw.....

Saturday 5 April 2008

Vancouver continued....

Wednesday - yes im a day behind with my posts but i'll catch up :)

Woke up and decided to go to Stanley park today. It’s a very beautiful park and although I just had a brief overview of the park I intend to come back tomorrow for a better look. Here is the picture I took of what I think may be the “lost lagoon” in Stanley Park.

Then went to an amazing organic shop called “Capers” for breakfast, needless information to you I’m sure.

Then I headed off to the Vancouver Art Gallery, totally unaware of what kind of place it is going to be.

On entering I see an open, empty looking corridor. I spot the “cloakroom” for leaving my coat and bag and I am served by a lovely woman who refuses to get off the phone with her friend as she serves me. Not a great start. However the person on the admissions desk was much more friendly and took my $15 ticket charge with a smile. I’m in and enter the first floor with an exhibition called “Truth and Beauty”

This contains some amazing old photographs, a lot of them too. I’m impressed by the selection and the way it is sectioned off into different subjects (Modernism, photography in print, pictorialism etc..) My favourite photographs were by Edward Weston, John Hagemeyer, Robert Demachy, Henrich Kühn, and it was lovely to see work by some New Zealand born photographers: Mary Moore and Mina Moore, Harold Cazneaux. I was also interested in the series called The Seven Last Words by Holland Day in which he depicted the crucifixion with himself as Christ. It brings to mind that then as now it is still a sensitive matter to depict religious subjects in photographs much more so than in paintings. That’s my opinion anyway.

Next floor of the Vancouver Art Gallery was “The Tree -From Sublime to the Social” an exhibition of mainly environmental concern and not much of the sublime. Perhaps as I get older I move further away from my conceptual roots but I found much of the work too blatant and quite ugly. To artists produced works of interest though, Karin Bibas created some large digital photographs, with a Pre-Raphaelite feel to them and a beautiful sheen.

Secondly was a work by Mungo Thompson who I believe was in the AAG’s last Triennial turbulence. This work “Silent film of a tree falling in the forest” was quote haunting, interdispersed with sections of blank white film. The effect was mesmerising.

Third floor has an amazing installation by Kutlu Ataman entitled Kuba, 2007, by far my favourite work and a great reason for being there. There were probably about 50 old TV sets and old chairs of various shapes and sizes with a chair for each TV set and each TV set showing an interview with a stranger. Each interview was subtitled, as the noise was hard to hear with everyone else’s. However I loved the mingle of the noise, the crowd like hum from all the interviews in the concrete room had the feeling of a train station or something. Quite overwhelming. The second part, or twin version of this installation was another called Paradise, 2007, which was similar except it contained interviews with people from California and was more colourful and glossy with large flat screen TV’s and white plinths holding headphones. So instead of the noise it was silent with just one interview being played out loud. You had to choose whom to listen to more carefully as more effort goes into putting those headphones on.

Obviously referencing the difference in the idea of wealth in both installations they were both totally fascinating.

The last floor had Emily Carr and the group of Seven, which I did not find particularly engaging.

So it was a mixed bag at VAG but a good visit. It also made me realize that I really am part of the AAG now as I was constantly comparing the labels, wall text, paint colour, hanging methods etc with our Gallery. Is that a good thing or not?

The rest of the day was full of tourist activities; Gas Town Clock etc etc… here are some photos of the day.

Thursday 3 April 2008


Image: Vancouver Art Gallery

Well one of the reasons i thought this blog would be great was to talk about some of the visits to other museums/cities/countries that staff of the AAG often attend as part of the job. Whether being a courier for a work of art going on loan, conserving an artwork in another institution of many other reasons, the fascinating stories and wonderful images are always fun to hear and see on their return.

So.............. I received the Elizabeth Yates Grant from the Auckland City Council with the intention of furthering my career by funding a trip to Canada to attend the Museums and the Web conference in Montreal next week. As part of the trip i decided to take some time off and visit Vancouver on the way.......so here is am. It's 10.15pm and i seem to be just waking up, but here is what i wrote last night before i found the lovely wireless capable cafe that i am now.

"Well here I am finally, in Vancouver after a brief stop over in Los Angeles Airport. All in all the travel was not so bad, after the rush of the last few weeks it was just great to get onto the plane and stop for a few hours. First impressions of Canada are good.

Although it was getting dark as I arrived it was clear skies and I had a fantastic view of the mountain range with snow capped peaks. A very special view to arrive and see. My hotel however lost my booking but found me a room anyway, I had visions of myself spending the night, literally, in Starbucks or somewhere that is open for the most hours.

It’s 9.11pm here and I have been for a walk up Robson Street and checked out the location of the Vancouver Art Gallery where I will be going tomorrow. It’s a very pretty street, fairy light tree clad, with shops still open now. I’ll try and take a photo another night. I have picked up a copy of Canadian Art magazine, which at first glance looks ok with an interesting feature on Chen Zhen who it seems, works in Paris. I’ll be reading it again when my eyes are working properly; lack of sleep is making it hard to concentrate. Flicking through it is disappointing to see how so many art magazines all over the world look the same, I guess it’s a formula that must work but I’d love to see something a bit more adventurous in the magazines design.

So i'm off back to the streets for a walk then back to my room to prepare for an exciting day tomorrow. Can’t wait to get stuck into Vancouver. Find out what the art culture of this place is like."

I'll email today's adventures shortly

Over and out for now.......

Wednesday 2 April 2008

Reading Room Action

Just as I sit here nervously awaiting the arrival of the journal for the launch tonight, I thought we might try celebrating it electronically. About to be posted on e-flux as "the Asia Pacific’s newest peer-reviewed journal of contemporary art and culture"... this is now the second issue of Reading Room. RR is an annual publication, and an enormous undertaking by all involved. With eight substantial essays it feels more like a book in fact (and selling for just $25 is quite a bargain). Not to mention the contemporary yet elegant design...

This issue explores the theme "Transcendental Pop". And the purpose of the issue was to examine how Pop Art - but in particular Warhol - continues to influence contemporary practice. But more specifically, it's about how artists reuse Pop, extracting Warhol's belief in surface alongside his glib banality - then bending it. (Just think of his fantastic phrase I never fall apart... because I never fell together). The issue explores the artistic impulse to override surface with "depth". Where the language of popular culture is tampered with… just possibly by applying transcendence...

OK, so I’m writing this with the luxury of hindsight, but you never really know whether a subject is going to encourage other writers. It was one of the delights of the issue that there was such good pick-up from writers on the theme. Conversation took place snippets of conversation during travel, over email, and in response to both work and writing, as we attempted to broaden the subject to as many different contexts as possible.

There's an engaged, ponderous and searching feeling in all the essays which try to examine how Pop is both valued and re-utilised. The essays discuss artists: Kamrooz Aram, Eric Baudelaire, Harun Farocki, Douglas Gordon, David Hatcher, Damien Hirst, Giovanni Intra, Jeff Koons, Ed Ruscha, Darren Sylvester, Andy Warhol and more...

All essays are newly commissioned for this issue. Look for especially good writing by Aram Moshayedi, curator at LAXART, Lars Bang Larson on the art of the Occult, Rex Butler on Andy Warhol and the “Religious” Dimension. I can't mention my own of course, on football in recent art (which I thoroughly enjoyed), but in the archive section there's also a great conversational piece by Robert Leonard on the Giovanni Intra archive, and one by Ron Brownson on the 1978 Ed Rusha show at the Gallery.

There's also a new work by Gavin Hipkins in this issue, a photo series which in my opinion is one of his strongest. The commission asked Gavin to make a body of new work based on the Warhol Index Book which was signed and gifted by Andy Warhol to the E.H.McCormick Research Library, in recognition of their subscription to Interview magazine (the only one by a library in the Southern Hemisphere).

Anyway... we look forward to seeing it... and, we hope people read Reading Room. RR is published annually by the E.H. McCormick Research Library at the Auckland Art Gallery, and is edited by Christina Barton, Natasha Conland and Wystan Curnow. It is initiated and overseen by marvellous managing editor Catherine Hammond and would not be possible at all without the vision of Dr Mayo and the establishment of the Marylyn Mayo Foundation!

For any other information (including purchasing) go direct to the website: http://www.aucklandartgallery.govt.nz/research/journal/issue2