Thursday 31 May 2012

Jim Vivieaere and Colin McCahon

I have been really busy working towards the opening of Home AKL on Saturday 7 July and have had no time to contribute to this blog recently.

In searching for a quotation by Jim Vivieaere today I came across two unsourced portraits.

One is of Jim and the other is of Colin McCahon. I think that one of Colin may have been taken in 1950.

As these portraits were unknown to me I thought that I would share them.

With apologies to the unknown copyright holders - if they are known to anyone, please send comments on to me.

Wednesday 30 May 2012

Inspired by The Spider!

The children in the 6-8 year olds 'Animals in Art' studio course made some fantastic responses to the Alexander Calder work The Spider, seen in the Degas to Dalí exhibition. Working with the idea of animals as symbols in art, the children chose an animal that best represented a quality or characteristic that they possess. Charlie expressed his playful side when he chose to depict a monkey!

The children enjoyed the challenge of simplifying their chosen animal into the most basic lines, and removing any detail. We worked with string and glue to create a printing plate of their animal. Once this was dry, we ran it through the printing press with soaked paper on top to take an embossing of the plate. The results were spectacular!

Our mystery guest will be revealed in our next blog, as will our Studio mascot...

In the meantime, make sure you don't miss out on the exciting holiday workshops coming up, as well as the first lot of studio courses for term 3. Bookings are open!

Wednesday 23 May 2012

Loyal dogs, wise owls and sneaky snakes! Sunday studio course with the 6-8 year olds

We are having a great time exploring animals in art with the 6-8 year olds in the Sunday studio courses at the moment. We began by looking at a number of Victorian paintings in the Tales of Love and Enchantment exhibition. The paintings we focused on were Legend of Sir Patrick Spens by James Archer, Blow Blow Thou Winter Wind by John Everett Millais, Married by Water Sadler, and Her First Love Letter by Marcus Stone. In each of these paintings we used the animals as clues to the story in the painting. The children loved the idea that the tortoise represents love, and that by painting it lumbering away from the couple in Married, Sadler has used the animal as a symbol to show that the couple was no longer close.

Walter Sadler, Married, 1896
Oil on canvas, Mackelvie Trust Collection, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki

In the Degas to Dalí exhibition we discussed the Spider by Alexander Calder. The children really responded to the simple lines of the work and the way it moved with the wind. Drawing on the children's knowledge of animals from stories and movies, we brainstormed animals as symbols as we thought about what animal best represented our personal attributes. The children's simple line drawings of an animal was made into a printing plate using string and glue. We'll have some images of their prints soon!

Check out our next blog to see the VIP who visited the children in the studio during our second class!

Wednesday 9 May 2012

Haerewa Tribute to Arnold Maanaki Wilson 1928 - 2012

Dr Arnold Manaaki Wilson, MNZN, QSM, Arts Foundation Icon, PhD (Honorary), DipFA (Hons)

Arnold will be dearly missed as the Kaumatua of the Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki and kaumatua of our close Haerewa whanau. He led the way for the Gallery in Māori protocols and made everyone in it culturally safe. He blessed Haerewa and with those blessings made us a strong, cohesive group. He blessed every part of the gallery and touched everyone who entered it and those who worked inside, and he blessed the artworks on the walls and in the stores. He imbued the Gallery with his wairua and we mourn his passing.
Arnold was a cultural hero. He will be remembered in the wider community of Aotearoa New Zealand as an extraordinary sculptor and carver. He was at the forefront of the group who challenged the established norms of traditional Māori art and created a new era of Māori Modernism. He was a change agent and his work reflected the new expressions of Māori art that opened the way for younger artists and contributed to burgeoning of Māori art of the 21st century.
Arnold was a remarkable art educator. He taught in secondary schools and as his students, he made us proud of the art forms, we inherited as Māori. He brought the community and huge groups of students together to make murals that told the stories of hapu and iwi around the country from Ratana Pa to the Far North. He led the way in the establishment of guidelines for The Arts, Nga Toi in the NZ Curriculum for schools. Through his work in education, he touched the lives of thousands of students from diverse backgrounds and therefore altered the cultural profile of Aotearoa New Zealand.

We thank his wife Rangitinia and his whanau for lending him to us.
Moe mai ra Arnold ki roto i nga ringaringa manaaki o te Matua-nui-i-te-rangi.
Elizabeth Ellis for Haerewa, Fred Graham, Mere Lodge, Bernard Makoare, Jonathan Mane-Wheoki and Lisa Reihana.

Arnold Manaaki Wilson 1928 - 2012

Kuramihirangi meeting house, Te Rewarewa Marae, Ruatoki, Date unknown
Reference Number: 1/4-002747-F. Taken by an unidentified photographer. Date unknown. National Library of New Zealand

Arnold Manaaki Wilson was born and died in the Year of the Dragon. He would say he had a good life, and he did, as great taniwha do. He iti na Tūhoe, e kata te po.[1]

Arnold lived outside of his Tūhoe homeland for 65-plus years and built extensive relationships with individuals, whanau, hapu, communities and iwi who loved him. The kōrero and knowledge of Arnold’s achievements reside with the people of these places and with his wife Rangitinia and their whanau. Arnold’s early life, however, is not widely known outside intimate circles. His early childhood gives insights into the type of life training he obtained from his people, and by whanau accounts, many handbooks could be written on how this taniwha was trained.    

Arnold’s final return home to Te Rewarewa Marae in Ruatoki was greeted with the elders recounting that Arnold left home aged 11 years under sad circumstances to rise above the difficulties and the realities of the time. They paid tribute to a son who became a vital and important figure in the arts and arts education in Aotearoa New Zealand. As he lay in state between the twin meeting houses Kuramihirangi and Te Rangimoaho (as depicted in the accompanying photo) I was warmed by the accuracy of elders and stunned but not surprised by the length of time Arnold had spent living away from his turangawaewae. It too quickly brought home to me, the years I have spent away from the same valley and what that says about contemporary times.

This is a summary of the early part of Arnold’s story to give some indication of the extraordinary life he lived. Arnold was born 11 December 1928 and raised by an exceptional cast of whanau members. He was the youngest member in a family of five children. His mother was Taiha Ngakewhi Te Wakaunua and his father Fredrick George Wilson. His siblings were Te Waiarangi, Hoki, Fredrick and Thomas.

Arnold’s mother's father, Heteraka Te Wakaunua, was a charismatic political visionary leader for Te Mahurehure and Ngāti Rongo hapu – indeed for all Tūhoe. Like other tribal leaders, Te Wakaunua placed a high value on whanaungatanga (kinship), manaakitanga (respect & kindness), aroha ki te tangata (care for people), matemateāone (yearning) and the social and political wellbeing of his people. Arnold maintained these values throughout his life as we can see this in the way he titled some of his sculptures.[2] A carved pou of his grandfather Te Wakaunua holds a prominent position on the poho (porch) of Te Rangimoaho wharenui.  

Arnold’s childhood patterns changed with the death of his mother during the great flu epidemic of the 1930s, when he was aged five. His paternal grandmother took charge of his care and life. To keep the memory of his mother alive and the legacy of his grandfather as a touchstone in his life, Arnold would be addressed as Te Wakaunua, as if he were his grandfather. His grandmother Mariana Creek-Wilson passed away when he was 11 years old and from then Arnold became a whāngai, whereby the wider Wilson whānau assumed responsibility for him. Mariana Creek-Wilson was from the Tokopa whānau of Ngāti Tarawhai. Arnold’s paternal grandmother was Tuihi Tokapa. 

Arnold’s early schooling at Ruatoki Native School focused on the three R’s – reading, writing and arithmetic – and spoken Māori was forbidden in the classroom and playground. All year round school uniforms for boys were gumboots and long pant dungarees or what Arnold and his schoolmates called ‘kumfoot and tungaree’ Spinning potaka[3] with flax and playing marbles were favourite playground activities for boys as was eeling in the river. The schoolmaster and senior boys were the local barbers for students in the community. The students grew most of the eucalyptus, pine and lawsonianas planted in the community, which they tended from seedlings. Childhood playmates were whanau and became life-long friends.

Arnold’s childhood was similar to many whānau in rural communities in the 1930s. When a major project needed attending to the whārua (entire community) rallied. Planting willow trees on the banks of the Ohinemataroa was one of those community efforts to keep the river from taking the land.  Arnold played his part planting the banks with willow nearby Te Rewarewa with his father. This planting also protected the favourite swimming hole of the children located under the Ruatoki Bridge.

Arnold’s whānau were hard working and community-minded people. The Wilsons owned and operated the local bakery-come-grocery store, the bowling green, billiard hall and the Ruatoki tennis courts. These amenities became important meeting places in the community and served to familiarise the population to the world beyond Ruatoki. Opposite the Wilsons shop was a larger trading post, named for the family who owned and operated the business. It was called the Middlemas shop and it housed the Post Office. Another smaller, no less important trading concern was owned and operated by my great grandfather, Wiremu Tereina from Ruatahuna, who married my great grandmother Pihitahi Wharetuna. His store was a favourite place for children for the range of boiled lollies he would stock.  Wiremu went on to start the first a bus service for the Ruatoki community and his bus was named Te Kauru.

Arnold was a star student at Ruatoki Native School and his artistic abilities were recognised by head teacher Mr Hans Hauesler. During the tangi, Aunty Anituatua Black recalled how she and younger cousins admired Arnold’s drawing abilities. He would draw using pencil or chalk and copy images sourced from postcards and visual material supplied by Mr Hauesler. Often these images were of things he had not yet seen in real life including images of English garden flowers such as hollyhocks in snow scenes. Another mentor from Ruatoki School was Mr Arthur Boswell who was very gentlemanly and a stickler for getting things right. When Arnold was not drawing, he would could be found working in the family garden, milking cows or attending the orchard. His personhood and worldview was shaped by many relationships inside Ruatoki and by individuals, extended family and the wider Tūhoe community.

These are among my favourite memories and conversations I shared with Arnold. He was a great storyteller, supporter and beloved uncle who always saw the positive in all things and all people.   As an auspicious full moon watched over the tangi proceedings and followed the bereaved whanau back to Auckland I felt I was witness to ancestral wisdom through the saying, Kua tae koe ki Paerau te huinga o te kahurangi’ – You have arrived at the great meeting place of the ancestors.

[1] He iti na Tūhoe e kata te po - A few Tūhoe and the underworld laughs. This means a few Tūhoe are the equal of many from another tribe. 
[2] He Tangata He Tangata, Tane Mahuta, Te Tu a Te Wahine etc
[3] A potaka is a spinning top either carved from totara or kauri, or fashioned from pinecones.

‘Spiders, dancers and drama!' - the April school holiday workshops with the 9-12 year olds

In each holiday workshop for the 9-12 year olds we visited a work of art in the Degas to Dalí exhibition. We had a discussion in front of each work of art to gather inspiration and ideas to take back studio. In the studio we experimented with materials to create our own works of art in response to what we saw and discussed, as well as our own ideas.

On Tuesday’s workshop we focused on Alexander Calder’s hanging mobile. Looking carefully we all saw the spider in this abstract work of art. We loved the way the sculpture moved with the breeze caused by people entering the gallery space, and thought that the artist might be interested in nature, wind and balance. Back in the studio, the children worked with wire to create their own sculptures. It was a challenging material to work with but we all thought it I was worth the hard work! Take at look at these!

Henri De Toulouse-Lautrec, Jane Avril, 1899
Lithograph in coloured inks on paper
Scottish National Gallery, © Trustees of the National Galleries of Scotland

 On Wednesday we sat in front of Toulouse-Lautrec’s painting Jane Avril and used her costume, body language and facial expression to explore the work of art. We compared Toulouse-Lautrec’s work to Japanese prints to focus our attention on the flatness of the paint, and took the main ideas about posture, expression and flat colour back to the studio to create some dramatic figurative paintings.

Our final workshop focused on the popular and oversized Roy Lichtenstein painting In the Car. The children immediately identified that it reminded them of a comic and enjouyed the idea that something normally small and ‘everyday’ had been made so large. The idea that the scene was a moment in a larger story sparked some great discussion as we imagined what had happened before this scene – why was the man scowling? why was the woman annoyed? Armed with an understanding of how lines were used to indicate movement, and how facial expression and extreme close-up were used to heighten drama, the children painted their own large and dramatic moments to great effect!

The Gallery Educators and I had a fantastic time with the 9-12 year olds. The knowledge and enthusiasm that they brought to each workshop created a real feeling of excitement. Observers commented that the atmosphere in the Studio reminded them of their days at art school! The way they shared ideas, suggestions and positive feedback with each other created a communal learning environment that we were very excited to see!

Monday 7 May 2012

‘Sand and sgraffito, bottles and blues’: 6-8 year olds Holiday Programme

The April school holiday workshops were a great success. The mornings were filled with energetic 6-8 year olds eager to look at and make art. In each workshop we visited a work of art in the Degas to Dalí exhibition and had a discussion together to gather inspiration and ideas from the work of art. We then returned to the studio to experiment with materials and create our own works of art in response to what we saw, what we talked about, and our own ideas.

The children on the Sgraffito and Sand workshop really enjoyed looking at Jean Dubuffet’s painting Villa sur la route [Villa by the road]. Armed with ideas about the physical quality of the paint, the children were excited to get in to the studio to experiment with applying thick paint and the technique of scratching a drawing into the wet paint with a stick. The children loved the scratching sound the sand and paint mixture made when they brushed it over their pastel under-painting.

Pablo Picasso’s Mère et enfant [Mother and Child] was the focus work for our exploration into colour mixing and the way artists use colour to express emotion. Sitting in front of the painting from Picasso’s Blue Period, children discussed how the colour blue made them feel. They named emotions like sad, frustrated, lonely, as well as feelings like relaxed, still and calm. We were able to use these words in our brainstorm in the Studio to give us ideas for the subject matter in our own blue painting.

We enjoyed energetic discussions in front of Giorgio Morandi’s Natura Morta [Still Life], particularly when we focused the discussion on comparing his work to a reproduction of highly detailed and realistic Dutch still life painting. After discussing the soft tones and shadows and the simplistic shapes and forms of the Morandi work, the children worked on experiments mixing tones using paint. 

It was such a successful fortnight of workshops. The uncomplicated way the children responded to the challenges and opportunities of each workshop was truly inspiring! The Gallery Educators and I really enjoyed working with the 6-8 year olds that attended the workshops and are eagerly awaiting the July School Holiday programme!