Monday 29 July 2013

Professional Learning and Development

Learning Through the Creative Process
JULY 2013

Teachers participated in another of our PLD courses on the first Monday of the July school holidays, lead by LEOTC Educator Mandy Jakich. This blog outlines the creative process we went through to learn the ideas and techniques of linocut printmaking.


We visited the back of house Gallery Print Room to learn about and make connections with linocut prints from the Gallery collection. Julia Waite, Assistant Curator, introduced the teachers to a selection of linocut prints from the Speed and Flight show, curated by Julia in 2012.

She explained the rise of the humble linocut in Britain in the 1930s and highlighted the techniques, styles and materials used by the artists.

Sybil Andrews
Haulers 1929
Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, gift of Mr Rex Nan-Kivell, 1953
Sybil Andrews
The Windmill 1930
Sybil Andrews
The Gale 1930

We returned to the Gallery studio to explore other linocut prints (not from our collection) which have been made with more simple designs and processes. We tried to work out the steps and techniques followed by the artists.


The techniques for using the cutting tools and protective boards were introduced and the teachers were given a chance to experiment on softcut lino and compare with a firmer lino block, using the protective cutting blocks.

Examples of designs were supplied to help with ideas and participants were given an opportunity to experiment with their design ideas. Animals, patterns, cultural designs, nature or text are examples of design ideas that work well.

A variety of techniques for mixing and applying ink colours were trialled:

We experimented with a selection of different papers:

Tissue paper
Tracing paper
Cartridge paper
Baking paper


For those of you who have never tried linocut printmaking or for people who need a refresher, here's a step by step guide:


  • softcut A5 lino blocks
  • lino cutters and standard blades
  • protective cutting boards
  • tracing paper
  • tissue paper
  • 170gsm cartridge paper
  • baking paper
  • other paper you want to experiment with (such as recycled papers)
  • coloured paper/card
  • A4 white paper
  • pencils
  • water soluable printing ink
  • brayers (rollers)
  • printing plates
  • water and brushes
  • newsprint for table

First cut, ink and print

  • Draw the final design on to white A4 paper. Transfer it on to the lino block by rubbing graphite on to the back of the design paper, placing it on top of the lino block graphite side down, and drawing over the design with a sharp pencil. This transfers the image on to the lino block. You may need to go over the lines on the lino so the design can be seen clearly.
  • Using a lino cutter and a protective board, cut over the outlines of the design.
  • Squeeze a light coloured printing ink on to a glass or plastic plate. Using a brayer, roll the ink so the whole roller is covered.
  • Roll the ink on to the lino, pressing lightly.
  • Carefully hold the lino on the edges, turn it upside down and place on to chosen paper. Make at least 2 copies.
  • Turn the paper over and roll with a dry brayer, applying hard pressure.
  • Gently peel paper off the lino block and place the print on a drying rack.
  • Wash the lino block with warm water.

    Second cut, ink and print

    • Go back to the table. Decide on what parts of the lino block you want to add more lines to, either through adding pattern, 'colouring in' shapes or adding extra lines.
    • Etch the extra lines into the lino block with the cutting tool. The first lines made will remain the colour of the paper used. All the lines cut this time will remain the colour of the previous inking. Everything else will become the colour of the second inking.
    • Repeat the inking and printing process, but this time use a darker colour.
    • When printing on top of the first print, make sure the paper is carefully aligned.
    • Dry work on a rack. Some inks take at least 3 days to dry (white ink even longer!)


     As a group, we looked at all of our artworks and discussed:
    • What worked, what didn't?
    • What problems did we have and how did we resolve them?
    • What modifications did we have to make and why?
    • What effects did we like/not like?

    Then we talked about how we could apply this technique in our classrooms:
    • Polystyrene blocks and pencils could be used instead of lino for juniors.
    • Woodcut printmaking could be a good follow on from linocuts for senior children.
    • Parent helpers would be good!
    • The teachers went away from the course feeling like they could take this process on with their classes.

    Some of their feedback :
    • 'Something new I could understand so I could get the kids to have a go and experiment. Coming to this course has given me confidence and a whole lot of different ideas.' Year 1/2 teacher, Prospect School.
    • 'Would strongly recommend this course to others.' Deputy Principal working with year 4-8 children, St Joseph's School Otahuhu..
    • 'The hands on approach allowed us enough time to experiment and explore.' Year 1 teacher, Henderson School.
    • 'I achieved my goals beyond expectation!' Year 1 teacher, Richmond Road School.
    • 'Excellent. I couldn't have asked for more. I like the casual, non threatening approach.' Teaching year 1-8, St Joseph's Otahuhu.

    Next PLD at Auckland Art Gallery is Learning Through the Creative Process - WIRE FIGURE SCULPTURE on the first Monday of the next school holidays: 30 September, 10am–3pm. Cost: $40

    Friday 26 July 2013

    It's show time!

    The Interns editing their films ahead of the class critique. Photo: Rachael Short
    This morning the Interns only had four hours left to complete the editing of their short films. The pressure mounted as they prepared for a class critique at 2pm, followed by feedback and comments about their work.

    It’s really important that the teens remain focused, keep their proposed questions in mind, and most of all, enjoy and really take in this entire experience. This afternoon they will be able to reflect upon their experience throughout the past six days, and think about whether or not they achieved their desired goals.

    Getting some final tips from Jacques ahead of the class critique. Photo: Waimarie Dashper
    Each and every one of these groups have a lot to be proud of. The amount of work they have done since last Monday is really astonishing, creating a short film in such a small amount of time can really prove to be a stressful task, yet each of the interns have dealt with, and handled the process really well. Not only have they had to plan, storyboard, film, and edit, but learn to make harsh creative decisions along the way.

    Two lessons that the teens will take away from this experience is the importance of process and time management, these are both vital when studying at university. Learning that the process of a project is just as important as the finished product, will be incredibly beneficial for their future studies – along with the importance of time management, a vital ingredient for success within any subject field.

    Watching Hinoliee's short film during the class critique. Photo: Nic Maw

    It was now time to show everyone their short films, followed by a short critique afterwards from their peers, mentors and staff. It was really good being able to see each of the different voices and ideas coming through the films, which shows how good a job each group has done.

    Once the critique was over, we went around the circle to find out what each teen took away from the day and the whole completion experience, here’s a few examples:
    • ‘Proud of my filming as it was my first time’ 
    • ‘Glad we managed to get everything finished in the last twenty minutes’ 
    • ‘Proud of what I achieved with my editing’ 
    • ‘Proud of my illustrations’ 
    • ‘Pleased that I could trust and rely on people in my group’ 
    • ‘Surprised and happy that we finished everything without getting stressed’ 
    Overall the critique and final editing phase was a success! Finishing at 2pm today instead of 4pm, gives the Interns a much-deserved rest.

    - Waimarie Dashper, AUT Media Mentor

    Thursday 25 July 2013

    The Interns begin editing

    Post-production is a major part of any film. Editing takes up a lot of time, which is why we allocated one day for filming and a day and a half for editing. The interns are in at AUT today, using the resources available there.

    Today I thought I would introduce the interns, and get their perspective on how this week has gone…

    Group One: The Groovesters
    Question: 'What is the Value of perceiving art?'
    Photo: Waimarie Dashper, AUT Media Mentor

    Group 2: Hinoliee
    Question: 'What do children think and feel about art?'
    Photo: Rachael Short, AUT Media Mentor

    Group Three: The Pickles
    Question: 'What is the importance of viewing original art work in the flesh?'
    Photo: Waimarie Dashper, AUT Media Mentor
    Group Four: Gender Group
    Question: 'How does the gender of an artist effect how view an artwork?'
    Photo: Waimarie Dashper, AUT Media Mentor

    The overwhelming message from all the groups was how much fun they were having. Being pushed out of one’s comfort zone is never easy but they have all shown maturity these past few days. Yesterday was intense and fast paced and today was no different. I think that the interns where feeling some pressure as even though there isn’t that much time to make everything perfect, there is always a lot involved.

    Editing is new to most of the teens, although some have been involved with it before. One girl had experience from being involved in the 48-hour film challenge with her school, even coming third in her category, not bad for a group of high school students!

    What myself and the other mentors, both staff and AUT, have been happily surprised with this week is the level of intelligence and thoughtfulness of the teens. The ways that they’re all approaching their films, taking on everything they have been taught, and utilising their skills has been awesome. Even the topics that they have chosen to explore is interesting, their take on situations within the gallery is different from say a staff member’s perspective and we are all excited to see the finished films!

    They all agree that this is such a great opportunity and I think it shows. When you actually want to be somewhere, when you are engaged enough in what you are doing, when you are given free reign to create what you like, you approach projects in positive ways. It is different from school, which with its structured lessons and planned timetables – there aren’t many subjects that allow space for self-directed learning.

    This internship has given the Interns a taste for what university life can be like, and how technology and creativity can go hand in hand. One girl commented that the internship was exceeding her expectations, and that she hadn’t expected to be given as much freedom as she was. Many of the Interns understood that this internship is more about the process that the product; that their personal growth and experience is equally if not more important than how their films will look.

    - Rachael Short, AUT Media Mentor

    Wednesday 24 July 2013

    Lets get filming!

    Youth Media Interns interviewing Assistant Curator, Mathew Norman.  Photo: Vivien Masters, Gallery Educator
    Today the Interns began to film, finally putting their ideas and concepts to the test, and to the big screen! However, today was a little different, as the teens were in total control. It was purely their responsibility to step up, manage themselves, have a good grasp of time management, make sure their filming is relevant to their proposed question – also keeping in mind their own individual roles and requirements. Along side of this, they were given guidelines on what and what not to film:

    Here’s a list of what they couldn’t do in the gallery:
    • Use hairspray (As this can damage the work) 
    • Use strong lighting (This can also damage the work) 
    • Use a tripod (This can be dangerous) 
    • Film an artwork without permission (Copyright issues) 

    Youth Media Interns practising using their new tools.  Photo: Vivien Masters, Gallery Educator
    Jade Lucas, the Gallery's Communications Coordinator was kind enough to get down to the nitty gritty of copyright issues, ensuring the interns had permission forms ready for anyone who they filmed to sign. Then with a brief overview of filming protocols by Sarah and Jacques, the teens were ready to create their shoot lists, and to be issued their equipment for shooting.

    The interns learnt today how important the past three days have been. The many hours that were put into goals, values, storyboarding, and tutorials, all lead up to and help make this entire filming process that much easier. Keeping in mind that there is quite a lot of pressure to ensure they got all their desired shots, and that its better to have more footage than you need, opposed to not having enough.

    Interns filming Principal Conservator Sarah Hillary in her  lab. Photo: Vivien Masters, Gallery Educator
    Each group filmed in the public gallery spaces, and back of house for the interviews with staff. Each of the groups had to organize interviews prior to today, ranging from many different specialties within the gallery:
    • Zara Stanhope – Principal curator 
    • Mathew Norman – Assistant Curator 
    • Robbie Butterworth and Selina Anderson – Senior Gallery Educators 
    • Jack Hadley and Helen Finlayson – Gallery Guides 
    • Sarah Hillary – Principal Conservator 

    The teens were lucky enough to have twenty minutes to interview different staff members, and to gain further insight, knowledge, opinions and suggestions towards their proposed questions. Four hours of straight filming made it the most intense, full on and busiest day yet for the interns.

    Tomorrow the interns begin editing!

    - Waimarie Dashper, AUT Media Mentor

    Tuesday 23 July 2013

    Youth Media Interns learn some new skills

    Storyboarding at the Gallery. Photo: Waimarie Dashper
    Sarah Loggie and Jacques Foottit, the two AUT Technical Mentors led a talk today about different types of films, sound, and cinematography. They showed different examples of professional works as well as their own university work.

    Being shown references of short films that some of the interns may not have been exposed to before is valuable because it sparks ideas about the different techniques available to actually make a film come to life. The Interns were then shown examples of how to use film techniques in a way that gets your point across to the audience without being boring or using clichés. We also got to see the films that last year’s teens made. It was beneficial for the teens to watch these as they where able to see what worked and what didn’t work in relation to techniques, as well as what can be produced in such a short amount of time.

    They also emphasised the importance of having fun and not being too serious, and being playful and professional at the same time. Because the filming time allocated is only one day there are limitations to what can actually be achieved. However, working with these limitations does have a silver lining as it will teach the Interns the value of time management, and they will be able to be very ‘cut throat’ in what they film.

    Developing objectives and storyboarding is an important part of any project, especially when creating films. Having come from school where there is normally never such a short amount of time allocated to a project, it has been an interesting initiation for the Interns. They have been asked to come up with interesting questions, strong objectives, plus they’ve been thrown into the mix with strangers. By now we are all very familiar with each other and it is awesome to see the ideas flowing.

    AUT Technical Mentor Jacques demonstrating how to use a video camera. Photo: Waimarie Dashper
    The teens were asked to come up with an objective in their groups for their films. The purpose of the objective is to create a clear understanding of what each group want to achieve with their films. I spoke to some of the groups about this and asked if they had ever done anything like this before. A few of them had because they take a Media class at school, but most had not.

    We then headed over to AUT where Jacques led a technical demonstration on how to use the equipment properly. I think it is fair to say that everyone learnt a lot from this, he is an excellent teacher and the teens all responded well. Having the Media Mentors involved in the project highlights the beauty of the partnership with AUT Co-lab, as they are able to demonstrate skills learnt through their time at AUT. It gives the teens an idea of what areas they could possibly pursue.

    We are only into Day Three but the Interns are oozing energy and enthusiasm. Tomorrow filming begins!

    - Rachael Short, AUT Media Mentor

    Monday 22 July 2013

    Question time for the Youth Media Interns

    Youth Media Interns in their new group. Photo: Waimarie Dashper
    On the second day of the Youth Media Internship the teens were split into four groups of three, depending on what their goals where from the previous day. Strategically, Selina and Vivien wanted to pair together people whose strengths and weakness would complement each other. As the Interns will all be given a role within their groups, this way, skills will hopefully be evenly distributed and everyone can achieve the personal goals that they have set.

    Interns choosing their Values. Photo: Waimarie Dashper
    Before we decided on questions, the teams were asked to develop some values to stick to. Honesty, staying open-minded and humour where really popular. We really want to make this week as fun as possible even though it will also be very full-on.

    We had the Gallery Education team come in and introduce themselves. Leading on from the messages the staff we met yesterday said, they really emphasised taking a path that you love, staying motivated, and pursuing all the opportunities that come your way. Hearing this again had a positive effect on both the teens and the mentors, as when you are at that deciding stage of what to actually do with your life, being able to see where your interests can lead you is a major help.

    Interns devising their question, which they will base their film on. Photo: Waimarie Dashper 
     Question forming took up the majority of the day. I think that the teens have surprised all of the Mentors and Gallery staff involved by the questions they have chosen to answer. After a lot of head scratching and brain straining, all four groups came up with exciting questions.

    The four questions are:
    • What is the value of preserving art? 
    • What do children think and feel about art? 
    • What is the importance of viewing original artwork in the flesh? 
    • How does the gender of an artist affect how you see the art? 
    Exciting times ahead…

    - Rachael Short, AUT Media Mentor

    Friday 19 July 2013

    Youth Media Internship

    Day one for the Youth Media Interns. Photo: Waimarie Dashper, AUT Media Mentor
    For the next week and a half, the Auckland Art Gallery and partner AUT has invited 12 young adults, ages 16-18, into the Gallery for an intensive internship centered on all aspects of gallery life. They will be asked to pose a question about an area they find interesting, which will then be answered through the medium of a short 3-minute film. The internship is a chance for the high school students to gain professional knowledge of where an interest in the arts can lead and also practical aspects of university life: teamwork, tight time frames, and the development of new skills.

    Gallery Educators Selina Anderson and Vivien Masters will be in charge of the interns and the program, while four AUT students will take on the role of media mentor to the interns, including myself. I am here to document the process. All currently studying towards a Bachelor of Creative Technologies, we are here to help manage the interns, encourage goal development and knowledge of technical skills, as well as documenting the entire process.

    The internship kicked-off with a quick introduction, read through of the program and a tour of the behind-the-scenes Gallery spaces. The interns had the opportunity to meet some of the staff members who have kindly agreed to be interviewed in the films, get a feel of the Gallery spaces and an idea of how much work goes into bringing an exhibition to life. A highlight of the tour was the Gallery’s print archive room where we were shown two old prints, and told about the process of conservation.

    Enjoying a tour of the Gallery. Photo: Waimarie Dashper, AUT Media Mentor
    From meeting various members of the Gallery staff, there seemed to be clear messages of do what you love, stay persistent and don’t let other people stop you from perusing your interests. All of the interns come from different backgrounds but are in similar situations; what to do after the safety of school is over? Where can my interests in art lead me? These messages were positive as they came from people who had already faces prejudice towards the art fields and who have over come them.

    After a yummy lunch, goal setting and team building took up the majority of the afternoon. Everyone chose at least three goals, highlighting areas to improve on and ways to develop new skills. Most of the teens haven’t worked with any aspects of film before so a lot of the goals centered on this, and all of the teens seemed to be extremely motivated and excited about this project. We chose the groups from the goal sheets, placing together people who had different goals from what they wanted to gain from this experience that can lead into different roles within the group being filled (e.g. development of technical film making skills, leadership, or research and idea developments).

    Goal setting and team building. Photo: Waimarie Dashper, AUT Media Mentor
    ‘This internship is a way for the Gallery to interact with the ‘youth’ audience in Auckland, an area that has always been hard to engage’, Meg Nicoll, the Community Learning Coordinator, says. It is an exciting response to this problem, not only because it allows teens access into Gallery spaces normally hidden from the public view but also due to the involvement of AUT. The teens are at that point in life where they’re starting to think about what they want to study or do at university. By inviting mentors from AUT the interns have access to first hand information on university life. They will be working closely with these mentors, who will help them to develop and produce their films, from the ideas stage to the editing.

    The internship will run from the 15–22 July, concluding with a screening of the raw films for Gallery staff next Tuesday. Post-internship, there will be a screening which family and friends are invited to come and view the polished films.

    - Rachael Short, AUT Media Mentor

    Wednesday 17 July 2013

    The Mocking of Christ, a conservation project

    Before treatment picture of the print in its frame
    A tiny thumbnail image in one of Webb’s catalogues alerted Curator Mary Kisler and Conservator Ute Larsen to what became a momentous acquisition by Auckland Art Gallery in 2010. The examination work and the assessment of the condition of this outstanding print was undertaken by paper conservators Ute Larsen and Camilla Baskcomb in 2012. It is thanks to the generous support of the Auckland Decorative and Fine Arts Society (, that a grant was allocated for the conservation project of this work.

    The Mocking of Christ is an impressive printed work on paper measuring over 2 metres tall and 1.5 metres wide. It was copied by François Langot, a 17th century French engraver from a now lost painting by Sir Anthony van Dyck. Langot specialized in making large scale prints that were used as altarpieces by churches too poor to acquire important paintings of their own. The engraving is made up of nine separate plates printed on individual sheets of paper joined together to make up one image.

    The original oil painting by van Dyck of the Mocking of Christ which Langot copied belonged to Sanssouci, Potsdam (Germany). A record published in 1833 states that the painting had originally belonged to the King of Prussia and measured more or less the same size as our print. A drawing after another version by van Dyck is held in The Louvre (France). It is very similar to our print, but Christ’s hair is being pulled to the right of the image by one of the torturers whereas in our print Christ looks serenely away from the mocking figure offering him a bulrush as a sceptre.

    This engraving is special for several reasons: its rarity, its size, the fact that van Dyck’s oil painting is believed to have been destroyed in World War II and that there are very few prints made by Langot as he died relatively young.

    The only other known examples of this engraving are held in the collections of the Bibliothequè Royale in Brussels (Belgium), the Museums of the Vatican, and in the Irbit State Fine Arts Museum (Russia). Research has revealed that the impression at the Bibliothequè Royale is in perfect condition because the nine sheets are loose and have never been joined. Our print however, was assembled and pasted down onto a canvas backing, probably in the 18th century.

    The folio of unassembled engravings held at the Bibliothequè Royale, Brussels
    The old canvas is composed of three pieces sewn together horizontally. Canvas strips have been added at a later date along the edges to help consolidate the old canvas and attach it to a wooden strainer. Although the frame is not contemporary with the work, it is part of its history and we intend to reuse it to display the print, once the treatment of the work is completed.

    The back of the print, on its strainer. You can see the stitching lines and the consolidation patch that hold the three pieces of canvas together, along with the more recent paler strips around the edges.


    The print has suffered significant damages through the centuries, notably an earthquake and associated flood, and so came to us in a particularly poor condition. Several areas were cause for concern on close examination:
    • Disfiguring dark brown water stains resulting from the flooding
    • Black and pink mould stains due to dampness
    • Numerous areas of paper loss and cracks
    • A very thick layer of embedded dust, accretions (wax, insect droppings, paint splashes etc) and insect damages, such as borer holes 
    • An area of black over-paint on the knees of Christ
    • Extensive fold lines and creases.
    These details of the print show water stains, cracks, losses and black over-paint on Christ’s knees in the left image. The right image shows the original misalignment of the joined sheets.

    This raking light picture allows us to see the extent of the creases and fold lines.


    First, the print needed to be removed from the stretcher and then from the canvas lining, so that we were able to treat the paper. Vacuuming and dry-cleaning was necessary to remove dust and accretions from both the back and front. As it was extremely difficult to work on the print in its large format, we decided to separate it into the nine printed sheets and treat them individually: they all need aqueous treatment, consolidation of weak areas and repair with antique papers where the original paper and image is lost. We intend to rejoin the nine sheets, after lining them with a new conservation support and retouch the repaired areas. However, our initial treatment proposal was not followed completely as we first thought, as some aspects of the treatment were not entirely predictable, and we discovered new problems that pushed us to find an alternative solution.

    In the next episode, you will find out about the tests that have been undertaken on the print and the beginning of the treatment. Stay tuned!

    - Ute Larsen and Camilla Baskcomb, Works on Paper Conservators 

    Thursday 11 July 2013

    Ian Scott (1945–2013)

    The news of Ian Scott’s passing came as a shock as I was unaware that he had been unwell for some years. I am grateful to have spoken with Ian about an acquisition that I made last year. I had long known that the Australasian impresario Harry M Miller had acquired Ian’s most ambitious portrait when it was first exhibited in 1969. The painting has not been seen publicly since then. Don Binney at Te Henga, 1969 is the sort of portrait that once seen is not forgotten.

    In 2012, because of his book on New Zealand portraits, I asked Richard Wolfe for notes on his response to Ian Scott’s painting:

    ‘In 1968 Gordon H. Brown… observed that the painted portrait had fallen into “general disrepute”. The pursuit of a likeness was no longer considered desirable, and had been superseded by photography. But a local revival of portraiture was already underway, stimulated by the previous year’s Face to Face exhibition at Auckland’s New Vision Gallery.

    Among the artworks shown was Colin McCahon’s uncompromising Portrait of Gordon H. Brown, which hinted at new possibilities for the genre. Perhaps for the very reason that it was unfashionable, portraiture was now taken up by a new generation of young artists, some of whom were taught by McCahon at the Elam School of Fine Arts. 

    In the late 1960s Ian Scott began painting a series of portraits of fellow artists, including Colin McCahon, Wellington art dealer Peter McLeavey and, in 1969, Don Binney. As well as being graduates of Elam, Scott and Binney were both represented in Auckland by the Barry Lett Gallery, and shared an interest in the west coast. Scott painted Binney at Te Henga, against the same rugged coastline seen in the latter’s Sun shall not burn Thee by day nor moon by night (1966) in the collection of the Auckland Art Gallery. Binney is placed to one side of the vista, inviting the viewer into a landscape he made his own, and which includes his studio in the middle distance. 

    Don Binney at Te Henga is an affectionate homage to a fellow practitioner. Scott has deferred to elements of his subject’s distinctive style, although the swarm of cotton-wool clouds is decidedly unBinney-like. This portrait is a unique record, providing both an introduction and context for the work of one of New Zealand’s best-known and most recognisable artists. It is also the work of another major artist who, along with such contemporaries as Robin White and Michael Smither, was responsible for the revival of interest in the painted portrait in New Zealand.’ 

    Ian Scott grew up in Henderson and spent many weekends during his youth biking to Te Henga/Bethells Beach. He explored the beach, islands and hinterland. Scott was impressed that Don Binney, who was five years older, also spent time at Te Henga while attending art school. Interestingly, Ian had been painting Te Henga since 1960, some years before Don began working there.

    Ian was 24 years old when he painted Don at Te Henga. It was his most ambitious portrait to date in its scale and intention. Earlier, he had made portraits of Colin McCahon, Peter McLeavey, Gordon Walters and Milan Mrkusich. These were all based on photographs not taken by the painter.

    Don Binney at Te Henga was purposely intended to be New Zealand’s largest portrait; it is twice life-size. Scott was inspired by the scale of the portrait heads in the recent paintings of American Pop artists James Rosenquist, Tom Wesselman, Roy Lichtenstein and Alex Katz.

    More than other local artists, Scott was looking to the relevance of American Pop art here while tying it to his response to Rita Angus’s realism. He is attempting to update the approach that Angus took in her Portrait of Betty Curnow of 27 years earlier where the interests of both the subject and the artist are combined into one image. By the time Scott painted this work, Binney had been associated with paintings of Te Henga since 1963.

    In 1968, there was a flurry in Auckland when the New Vision Gallery showed Face to Face, the first attempt in New Zealand to focus on contemporary portraiture. For a time it was believed that portraiture could become a revitalised genre with Geoff Thornley, Ross Ritchie, Colin McCahon, Peter Siddell, Richard Killeen and Ian Scott making portraits. Killeen and Scott looked to the much-derided suburbia and the bush covered hills that McCahon was then obsessed with. Instead of a landscape that is without sound, devoid of people and containing no evidence of history – Scott envisaged a coastal place that has a champion, and which is populated and has been lived in for some time.

    By appropriating photographs and analyzing the way that Binney himself drew Te Henga, Scott used the current Pop methodology of conjoining image source and artistic styles seen in the work of James Rosenquist. Wilderness and habitation become connected. Portrait and location are contrasted in a disquieting way. At the time when this painting was painted, Scott’s cohorts at Elam – students and teachers – were confused. Were they looking at a portrait in a landscape or a landscape with a portrait?

    Gordon H Brown wrote: 'Perhaps the most significant development has been the growing interest in a new kind of realism that owes no allegiance to any recent art movement but if anything is closer to the regionalists of nineteen-thirties without necessarily being so naturalistic or regional in outlook. In this respect Don Binney acts as a link rather than a manifestation of this new approach.' (From Directions in Recent New Zealand Painting: Two Views in Ten Years of New Zealand Painting in New Zealand, Auckland City Art Gallery, 1968)

    Hamish Keith concurred with Gordon’s opinion and stated in the same publication: ‘There has recently been a revival of interest in an uncompromisingly realist approach to imagery. Rita Angus could perhaps be seen as a precursor to this, but it has been developed and extended since 1962 by Don Binney initially and later Michael Smither and other painters.’ 

    Don Binney’s studio at Te Henga was the red barn at lower right. The colonial villa belonged to the Bethell family. The portrait was first exhibited at the Barry Lett Galleries in mid-1969, at which occasion Don Binney had a portrait of himself taken against it. Harry Miller immediately acquired the painting from the exhibition for $200.00 (the same price that the Auckland Art Gallery paid for Rita Angus’s Fog Hawkes Bay that was on display at Barry Lett Galleries at the same time).

    Don Binney at Te Henga is intended to appear as if figure and landscape are both seen under extremely bright light. As if overwhelmed by the light’s intensity. The orbs of white clouds reflect the pulsing sensation that one gets from the backlight frequently encountered on Auckland’s west coast. These dots reinforce the glare expressed by the painting. Don Binney is somewhat brought back from this intensity because he is standing in quarter shadow, as if shaded by a tree. The painting is not meant to be naturalistic; it couples the bright and silvery light frequently experienced on this coastline. The fact that there are almost no shadows in the view reflects the notion that the light is illuminating the entire view at the height of an Auckland summer.

    For Ian Scott, the painting shows that ‘New Zealand is a very bright and hard edged place. It affirms that my art and Don’s vision was similar. We are getting at the pearlescent light of New Zealand’. The artist consciously wanted to conflate the influence of Pop art with regional art tradition of New Zealand. Time wise, the portrait comes at the mid-point of his realist phase. Sky Dash, 1969–70 was his next painting (Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki). Ian Scott was fascinated with what was happening overseas in the 1960s, and it was this international perspective that he brings to his portrait of an esteemed regionalist artist and friend.

    I was encouraged to see Ian’s enthusiasm when I informed him that his portrait Don Binney at Te Henga had been gifted by the Friends of the Gallery to the collection. He had thought that his most ambitious portrait had been lost to New Zealand.

    With a vocation arching over more than four decades, Ian Scott showed it was possible to be a full-time painter. Few other local painters have been as prolific as he was, even fewer as determined to explore such diverse and, sometimes, divisive content. His commitment to his studio practice was immense and filled with focus. Series after series of paintings emerged. There is much more to be known about the art of Ian Scott.

    To his partner Nan, and son Chris, the staff of the Gallery send our sincere condolences.

    Ian Scott

    Don Binney at Te Henga 1969
    oil on hardboard
    Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki
    gift of the Friends of the Auckland Art Gallery, 2012

    Ian Scott

    Sky Dash 1969–70
    oil on canvas Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki
    gift of the Artist, 2004