Thursday 31 July 2014

Glenn Jowitt (1955–2014)

Yesterday I attended Glenn Jowitt’s funeral at the Grey Lynn Presbyterian Church on the corner of Crummer and Great North Road. The service was led with warmth, humour and reverence by the Reverend Nathan Pedro and the Reverend Mua Strickson-Pua. This well-known Church is a much cherished gathering place for Auckland’s Samoan, Tokelau and Tuvalu community. It is also one of this city’s loveliest Church centres and is sited just around the corner from Prime Road where Glenn lived for many years. 

Glenn’s mother, sister and brother were present. His niece also. They all spoke with much love and tenderness to the hundreds of friends present. It was the largest funeral gathering of any Auckland artist since the service for Don Binney at Saint Mary’s in Parnell. 

For all gathered there was a truly palpable presence of loss. Many tears were shed, many words were spoken. There were laughs and there were surprises at hearing delighting anecdotes. Glenn’s character emerged through a panoply of wonderful speeches. 

Allen, Glenn’s brother, asked me to address the gathering on behalf of Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki and I felt the weight of every staff member at every New Zealand Gallery and Museum on my shoulders. I had to speak in a way that expressed how united respect for this most sensitive and forward-thinking artist. In my speech, I focussed on Glenn as an artist. What follows is a sense of what I said, although I spoke to everyone much in the second person tense so that I spoke directly to Glenn…

Glenn Jowitt was a distinguished and important camera artist. Auckland’s loss is our country’s loss and his passing is the Pacific’s loss. When I learnt of Glenn Jowitt’s passing I entered a veil of memory, recalling this wonderful man, this brilliant artist and most loyal friend.

During the last decade Glenn and I spoke frequently about his on-going grapple with issues of his health. We would sometimes speak for an hour discussing what he was experiencing from and through his heart. We joked that it was Glenn’s blood machine, his heart was a living machine and his heart was a trusty yet unpredictable functionary that often held Glenn in its thrall.

Glenn would laugh about this fact but he also got angry especially when he was in a meditative mood. He knew the dilemma that his heart delivered to his life and he expected its uncertainty with wry chagrin, he experienced its demands with patient humour, with sudden annoyance and sometimes with raw disdain. It was as if he would not, he could not; deliver his future plans to any vicissitudes of chanced health. He would overcome. He had to. His many photography and publishing projects demanded it. Glenn wanted to determine an on-going life for his images and he made his projects occur simply by willing them into existence.

Glenn’s list of publications is a lengthy list and it is impressive. Read a short list that I have compiled.

Simply said, and the truth is this: no other contemporary photographer in the world created a comparable body of photography which is in competition with what Glenn discovered and recorded . He was never told that he must work on this or that subject and he ensured that all his creative choices came from his own volition.

Glenn felt a terrific need to keep on, to achieve, to overcome what he thought of as a frailty entirely outside of his body’s determination. Consequently, the word determination is his marker because determination is a key feature of this brave artist’s character.

In the 35 years that Glenn and I were friends I always knew that he was an artist who made plans and these plans were to record, to picture, to document life as he saw it. There is a bohemian spirit within Glenn’s art and it is a spirit that allowed him to be at places few other camera artists would work at.

Be it the back stalls of a rural racetrack.

Be it the homes of gang members.

Be it at a church on a Pacific atoll only accessible by sea.

Be it at a huge international arts festival somewhere in the Moana.

I have always been impressed by the fact that Glenn never, ever, pulled back from the ambitious nature of his photo-projects even though they frequently presented him with substantial problems.

Problems of funding, problems of diplomacy, problems of accessibility, problems of timing and schedules, problems of publication. He surmounted all these issues because he wanted his artwork to be a vehicle of advocacy for the many people that he collaborated with. Especially peoples of the Pacific.

I first met Glenn in the 1970s, very soon after Outreach (later Art Station, now Studio One Toi Tū) opened as a public access art studio in Ponsonby Road. I attended one of the early inner city exhibitions of contemporary Pacific craft to be held in any Auckland public gallery. Naturally, it was a huge community event and some of those present had never encountered a photographer who was so determined to document their opening event. They showed Glenn what we call ‘kawa’, the protocol of necessary behaviour.

Glenn was very well-known throughout the Pacific for his ability and reputation as a photographer, yet Glenn remained humble as a person. As the years went on, Glenn became more humble. And it was at the beginning of his career when he first arrived in Auckland that he was shown humility, he was tutored in humility and this was a true lesson that he never forgot. The elders spoke to Glenn and he listened and understood their message.

I interviewed Glenn at length some months before his death. We spoke about his photographic practice and he reiterated how all of his artwork came from his own volition. Glenn had the insight to know that we live in a Pacific place and that Pacific peoples are emblems marking the massive change that is happening in our society. We are becoming here each day, in every way, more Pacific as a people together.

Glenn understood that the history of the Pacific has much to teach us all. In focussing on the peoples of the Pacific, he travelled extensively throughout the Pacific. Arguably more than any other photographer of his generation. He shared his images generously, always.

Glenn cherished the astonishingly important traditions of the Pacific – be they expressed in heritage, traditional and customary ways as well as in contemporary and urban ways. The energy and the talent of Pacific peoples became one of the beacons which Glenn Jowitt’s art sought to affirm, acknowledge and celebrate. Glenn was trusted. He undertook his legwork properly and with politeness and correctness.

I have always thought that Glenn was one of New Zealand’s most assiduous camera artists; he was determined, patient and tenacious. In a career which spanned more than 35 years, he established an international reputation as a documentary photographer.

I spoke to the much loved kaumatua Don Soloman yesterday and Don kindly confirmed what I recalled. It was Don that gave Glenn Jowitt his very first exhibition at Auckland when he moved from Christchurch. Don recalled that no Auckland dealer gallery would consider showing Glenn’s photography then. This is over 35 years ago. So, Don kindly offered Glenn the recently opened Gallery space at Outreach. The opening was a wonderful party and I think it was from that very moment that Glenn became an Auckland and took this city’s multicultural reality to his heart.

There is no irony that Glenn’s Auckland reputation was born in a community gallery as Glenn was always an artist who took the aspirations of all the many communities that he had the privilege and the pleasure of working with to the core of his creativity. It is this love of people that singles Glenn Jowitt out. He shared his talent and he gave of himself freely. Glenn’s art, his photographs, is his life’s gift to us. 

Image credits:

Glenn Jowitt (1955–2014)
Ashburton 9 September 1978 1982
black and white photograph
Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki
purchased 1983

Glenn Jowitt (1955-2014)
Baldie (Shane Piripi Turner) 1979
black and white photograph
Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki
 purchased 1985

The diversity of My Country

Visitors to My Country: Contemporary Art from Black Australia often express surprise at the innovative nature of Australian Indigenous art, and that contemporary art by Indigenous Australians includes more than abstract painting. Urban, art school trained artists create work in every media imaginable. Artists from remote areas are recognised for taking traditional practices – sand drawing, body painting, decoration of burial poles and functional objects – and reconceiving them in new and fresh ways, while conveying the importance of the mythological and recent history of their land and politically declaring Indigenous rights.

In this blog I want to explore the ways in which the artists in My Country are groundbreaking and, in particular, how their innovation is endorsed by the awards and acknowledgements they have received.

Alick Tipoti, Kukyu Garpathamai Mabaig 2007
Alick Tipoti is from Torres Strait and his work in My Country exemplifies the acclaimed status of artists in the exhibition. Tipoti is an expert in linocut printing (a Western technique that he has helped to introduce to islanders). Tipoti has developed an extremely creative and articulate style of print making, which conveys his traditional culture to his people and to the rest of the world. He was Student of the Year during his art training (1993), and since then his works have attracted a list of accolades, including over five annual National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards, culminating in the Senior Artist Award and Artist of the Year in 2012. In 2011 Tipoti also won the British Council’s Indigenous Leadership Award. His amazing work in My Country, Kuyku Garpathamai Mabaig, 2007, which depicts a head hunter with his weapons communicating with the spirit of his victims, won the Freemantle Print Award.

Genevieve Grieves is a young artist from New South Wales. She is representative of younger generations of Indigenous artists who have grown up in urban areas, gone to art school and who use contemporary media in their art making. Grieves five-channel video Picturing the Old People, 2006–7 is based on archival studio photographs of Indigenous people. Picturing the Old People won the Xstrata Coal Emerging Indigenous Art Award 2007. Making these videos at the age of 30, Grieves worked collaboratively to include relatives of the people depicted in the original images in her animation and disruption of the historical photos.

Warwick Thornton, Stranded 2011
Distance within the huge Australian continent, or from the rest of the world, is no deterrent to talent. Internationally acclaimed Indigenous Film maker Warwick Thornton was brought up in Alice Springs, and as a teenager lived in Australia’s only monastic town (New Norcia, WA). His 2009 film Samson and Delilah won Caméra d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival in 2009, when Thornton was in his late thirties. While continuing his directing career, Thornton was commissioned by Telstra to make a work the for 2011 Adelaide Film Festival. He created the hard-hitting yet beautiful 3D film Stranded, 2011, which is presented in My Country and is his only work made for a gallery space.

Youth, however is not a perquisite for Indigenous Australian achievement in contemporary art, as works by numerous artists in My Country demonstrate. The painting Euro tracks, 2011 by Dickie Minyintiri won the 28th National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Award in 2011, out of over 300 entries. This subtle painting of multiple layers and colours represents Minyintiri’s personal memory of travel in his country and expresses his ancestral relationship to the land in the stories of a sacred men’s ceremonial site. Amongst the network of lines are traces of the tracks of ancestral spirits (kangaroos, dogs, emu) to important waterholes.

This decorated artist reinforces the ageless nature of success. At almost 100 years old (born 1915) Minyintiri is the oldest artist in Ernabella, SA, and his paintings are found in all the Australian state galleries. The formal painting career of this senior man, responsible for many traditional laws, only began in 2005 when Dickie was almost 90.

Eighty-eight-year-old Sally Gabori won the inaugural $50,000 Gold Award presented by Rockhampton Art Gallery in 2012 with a painting similar to but smaller than her work Dibirdibi Country, 2008, in My Country. More remarkable is that Gabori commenced painting only five years earlier. She rapidly followed this success by winning the Togart Contemporary Art Award 2012 and seeing her work enter many public gallery art collections including, the Musée de Quay Branley in Paris. Gabori paints the shoreline where she grew up on Bentnick Island, northern Queensland, a home from which missionaries removed her and her family in 1948.

My Country includes art by the key figures who established a creative and economic pathway for others, especially women.

One such entrepreneurial artist is Emily Kngwarreye, whose work Wild Potato Dreaming, 1990 appears in My Country. Born in 1910, Kngwarreye ignored the impediments of distance and social and economic disadvantage to succeed in taking up painting as a career, commencing her art practice just prior to reaching the age of 80. Kngwarreye was living in the community of Utopia, 350 kilometres north-east of Alice Springs. The medium of acrylic on canvas was only introduced to Utopia in 1988. Kngwarreye’s paintings of her yam dreaming, which she said include ‘everything’ (meaning her ancestral links, the aspects of culture she has custodianship over and the country where she lives) have set new records for the price and national and international recognition of Aboriginal art in general.

Australian Indigenous people had not adopted the European materials of paint and canvas until 1971 when school teacher Geoffrey Bardon introduced these art tools to men in the Papunya community, located 250 kilometres west of Alice Springs. When Kngwarreye began painting in 1989 she forged her own style which was distinct from that of the men painting in Papunya. By 1990, she had five solo exhibitions and 12 group exhibitions in Australia – a trailblazing feat by a woman who had not left the central desert area of the continent before beginning her art career. Prime Minister Paul Keating acknowledged Kngwarreye’s achievements when he presented her with the Australian Artists Creative Fellowship in 1992, making her the first Indigenous artist to receive this prestigious award.

In remote parts of Australia painting is a way in which Indigenous people stay connected to culture, and provides an occasion for singing ancestral and past stories, and a time to pass down knowledge and carry on custodial duties in regard to land. Australia was, as you will know, presumed to be terra nullius or land belonging to no one by the colonial settlers who arrived in the 18th century. The paintings of Kngwarreye, like other artists, have broken new ground in demonstrating evidence of a prior connection to country, and have been accepted as evidence in Land Trials. In this way, painting has assisted communities, including Utopia, to gain freehold title to their territory.

My Country is indicative of the fact that there is no single characteristic of professional and economic achievement. The photos Black Gum, 2008, which reflect on colonial perceptions of Indigenous Australians, are by Christian Thompson, the first Aboriginal Australian to be admitted to Oxford University in its 900-year history.

Vernon Ah Kee speaking in front of his work, neither pride nor courage 2006,  at Auckland Art Gallery, Saturday 29 March 2014
Vernon Ah Kee recently won the 2014 Redlands Konica Minolta Art Prize for the style of charcoal drawing on canvas that is seen in his large triptych neither pride nor courage, 2006 in My Country. The third part of this triptych shows the face of the future – it is a portrait of Ah Kee’s son. This boy exemplifies changes since the artist’s own start in life – Ah Kee was born in 1967, just before a referendum in which Aboriginal Australians were granted the right to vote, and the first time they became full citizens in their own land.

The artists in My Country indicate the many ways in which art can be a means to not only survive but also flourish. Through their art these artists acknowledge the importance of past and current communities in contemporary life, and engage others with culture in new and inventive ways. I leave you with an image of the installation I Forgive You, 2012 by Bindi Cole, an artist who had won the Victorian Indigenous Art Awards in 2007 and 2009 when she was in her early thirties. Made from thousands of emu feathers, I Forgive You is literally – and figuratively – multi-layered. One meaning that we can take from this work, and from other art in My Country, is that the success and integrity of any person is interconnected with those who form our worlds and countries.

– Zara Stanhope, Principal Curator and Head of Public Programmes

Additional notes:

Richard Bell
A painting very similar to Richard Bell’s Theorum (Tricky Dicky and Friends) on view in My Country won Bell the National Telstra Indigenous Art Award (2003). 

Michael Cook
Artist of the Civilised series, photographer Michael Cook, is a two-time winner of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Awards in recent years.

Image credits:

Alick Tipoti
Kala Lagaw Ya people
Australia  QLD  b.1975
Kuyku Garpathamai Mabaig  2007
Purchased 2008. The Queensland Art Gallery Foundation Grant

Warwick Thornton
Kaytej people
Australia  NT  b.1970
Stranded 2011
Purchased 2011. Queensland Art Gallery Foundation

Vernon Ah Kee
Kuku Yalanji/Waanyi/Yidinyji/Guugu Yimithirr people
Australia  QLD  b.1967
neither pride nor courage  2006
The James C Sourris, AM, Collection. 
Gift of James C Sourris through the Queensland Art Gallery Foundation 2007. Donated through the 
Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program

Wednesday 30 July 2014

Youth Media Internship 2014: From Premiere to Premiere

Programme mentor Jacques offering technical help
Some quick, last minute changes in Adobe Premiere aaaaaannnnnndddddd… DONE! All the interns had finished their short films, ready for rendering and exporting. Jacques, the tech whiz mentor, made sure that all the films were ready for playback later in the day for the premiere screening of the films.

We reflected on what the past two weeks have meant to us and how we have each benefitted from it. What went well? What didn’t go so well? As mentors, we did well in our documentation of the programme and offering help where possible. The interns all did well in encouraging one another and always being open to learn new skills and processes.

One big family
With the pressure of the films off our shoulders, the remainder of the day was left for us to hang out and have some fun without the segregation of teams. We’re all just one big family now. After a quick photoshoot on the sculpture terrace, we were free to play in the creative learning centre, read stories, draw… basically just chill. It was nice to be in a completely stress free environment after the intensity of the past two weeks.

Group photo of Interns and Mentors
While the movies were being prepared for their premiere showing, we spent some time creating short drama skits that showed a memorable part of the programme. This was very enjoyable and allowed everyone to get active and creative. The skits were performed in the theatre where the final films were to be shown. But first, let us take a selfie!

Interns taking photos
Most of the interns weren’t comfortable with being in front of the camera at the beginning of this programme. There was no shyness now as all the interns seemed very comfortable with having literally hundreds of photos taken of them. Perhaps this was because of all the photos we’ve taken of them throughout the week, or maybe just the atmosphere of excitement in the auditorium. Either way, the Interns were happy to muck around in front of the lens.

A team introduces their short film
The audience started entering. Members of the gallery staff, including the stars of some of the films, were invited to this exclusive premiere of the Interns’ short films and our short film based on the interns’ time here. It was such a great experience seeing these finally come to the big screen. We are incredibly proud of what each team produced.

An Intern receiving their gift
Each intern has clearly grown in their creativity. They have become more aware of the talent that they possess and have started to open their minds to the endless possibilities in art. We are honoured to have been a part of this programme and are looking forward to the future of these amazing and talented interns.

A huge thanks must go to the Auckland Art Gallery and Colab AUT for facilitating this event. In particular, Mindy Catt and Selina Anderson from Auckland Art Gallery and Clinton Watkins from Colab. We are also grateful for the expertise and insight of Jacques Foottit and Sarah Loggie. And, of course, thank you to every intern who made this adventure awesome.

All the best, Martin Hill and Reuben Poharama

Tuesday 29 July 2014

For and Against: Debating Ideas and Concepts around art!

A case study around developing a new cross-curricular secondary school programme piloted with Year 12 History students from Pukekohe High School.

The moment of truth! The students were now asked to use the content they had been given to debate the moot ‘The influence of the Renaissance is obvious in art from today’... The debate was a roaring success – both groups were lively and engaged, and were keen to discuss their interpretations and ideas... I'd facilitated many debates in the Gallery prior to this one, but immediately this stood out as more successful.

The analysis and discussion of works of art can offer rich learning opportunities appropriate for a broad range of subject areas. Motivated by this thinking, we wanted to develop a programme that gave secondary students from a range of subject areas the opportunity to build relevant content and contextual knowledge around works of art, to explore the big ideas these generate, and to then apply this knowledge through a facilitated group debate designed to encourage high level critical thinking.

We developed a focused tour and debate programme (For and Against: Debating Ideas and Concepts around Art), combining the strengths of two of the Gallery’s teams. The first part of the session is led by one of our Gallery Volunteers, who work with the public to deliver daily tours and have an comprehensive understanding of the Gallery and its collection. The second part of the session is led by one of our Gallery Educators, who work with schools and community groups and specialize in facilitating sessions where students use critical and creative thinking to analyze artworks.

We trialed this new programme with a class of Year 12 History students from Pukekohe High School. They had been studying the Renaissance, and were preparing for an internal standard for which they needed to write an essay on the art of the Renaissance and its effect on art in the present.

We introduced their debate topic: ‘The influence of the Renaissance is obvious in art from today’. When they discovered they wouldn't know which side of the debate they would argue from until the second part of the session there were groans and slight looks of panic on several faces, so we assured them the debate would not be a test, but rather a fun and lively way to apply their knowledge, share their thoughts and hear the thoughts of others!

Part 1: Volunteer Guide-led tour 

Juan de Juanes, Saint Catherine of Alexandria, 16th century
We started in Little Miracles, an exhibition of 16th century Renaissance paintings and then spent time discussing several works in-depth. Students also had opportunities to share their own knowledge and interpretations, and she encouraged them to link what they were hearing now back to what they had learnt in the classroom.

Tony Fomison, My Personal Christ (St Anthony) 1976
We then viewed examples of ‘art from today’. The challenge was to identify or relate the characteristics of the Renaissance works we had discussed to these contemporary New Zealand works. The students were supported through this process through discussion and were encouraged to look at the notes they had taken in Little Miracles to compare and contrast the works.

Part 2: Educator-facilitated debate 

The moment of truth! The students were now asked to use the content they had been given to debate the moot ‘The influence of the Renaissance is obvious in art from today’. Their teacher, Liz, and I stepped back at this point, and gave the students space to voice their opinions, use the notes they had taken in Liz’s session, and to use their prior knowledge. Where needed, we would step in to further fuel a discussion or push them further with their thinking.

Colin McCahon, Takaka: Night and Day 1948
The debate was a roaring success – both groups were lively and engaged, and were keen to discuss their interpretations and ideas. An atmosphere of playful competition kept them on their toes, as both sides wanted to 'win'. I'd facilitated many debates in the Gallery prior to this one, but immediately this stood out as more successful. Giving the students access to content and then allowing them the time to digest it and manipulate it made a huge difference. Challenges we’ve since thought through – sticking to our timing – they could have kept debating much longer, and trying to keep all of the students engaged during the debate, not just the ones who are really comfortable talking in public. The arguments from both sides were well measured, supported with evidence and convincing. For example, the 'for' group argued that the influence of the Renaissance was clearly visible in McCahon's Takaka: Night and Day. They thought his dramatic use of light and dark tones referenced the chiaroscuro technique used by Renaissance artists.


  • Students said they found arguing a given point of view challenging, but useful. This is a skill they need for essay writing in several subjects, not just History. They also liked hearing different perspectives from their peers during the debate, and having the opportunity to learn from each other in that way. 
  • The flexibility of this programme allows the Gallery to respond to a teacher's needs, or to a specific topic of study. Liz was able to introduce lots of content, which secondary students need. Their teacher was engaged and encouraging throughout the entire session. Her enthusiasm helped students maintain interest. 
  • Liz’s past experience with secondary groups had seen her solely as a ‘guide’, her role purely to share content. She has found in this environment students are often reluctant to ask questions or participate in discussion. Alternatively she found the For and Against programme created an atmosphere that allowed students space to show curiosity or share their knowledge, making it a more rewarding experience for them and for her. 

Going forward:

  • Taking into account the challenges in the pilot, we are now offering this programme on a regular basis along with the rest of our Secondary Learning programming
  • I love working with this age group, and really enjoyed the opportunity to hear them voice their opinions and share their knowledge in such an enthusiastic way. 
  • Bring your students in and let us know what you think! 
– Gallery Educator Vivien Masters and Volunteer Guide Elizabeth Buchanan

Image credits: 

Juan de Juanes
Saint Catherine of Alexandria 16th century
Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, gift of Sir George Grey, 1887

Tony Fomison
My personal Christ 1975-1976
Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, purchased 1976

Colin McCahon
Takaka: night and day 1948
Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, gift of the Rutland Group, 1958

Youth Media Internship 2014: The End in Sight

Interns critiquing their peers' work
Today we started with a quick critique session. We all had the opportunity to look at what each of the groups had done so far and offer some feedback about each of the short films. At this stage feedback plays a key role in motivating the Interns to fine tune and push their films to a higher level.

Getting the job done
Editing was the main focus of today. There was an atmosphere of concentration and determination in the studio. Talking to the Interns revealed that there were still a lot of ideas that they would like to develop. Everyone was optimistic and knew that they would get it all done and calmly carried on working.

Reflective drawing of an intern
This year’s Interns love to express themselves through their own art. Many of the interns doodle or draw as part of their reflection. As not everyone in the group can work on editing at the same time, a few chose to reflect through their drawings. The interns have a lot of skills in many different fields and their artistic ability has really shone through over the last two weeks.

Pizza for lunch
One of the highlights of this programme that everyone agrees on is the food we get everyday. The programme has been fully catered for with a combination of snacks, sandwiches and everyone's favourite: pizza. Lunchtime today was a much needed break from all the work everyone had been doing. Some were so focused on their work that they needed to be peeled away from their computers to take a break.

Programme mentor Jacques lending a hand
Jacques, one of the programme mentors, helped a lot today. He knows a great deal about the technical side of things. The Interns called on him when they were faced with something that they didn't know how to do. His expertise in this area helped in the process of learning that the interns have gone through.

– Photos and text by Reuben Poharama and Martin Hill, AUT Media Mentors

Wednesday 23 July 2014

Youth Media Internship 2014: Positively Messy

Rechecking our goals
Today, after taking a look at the art boards downstairs, the Interns were given some questions similar to those answered in the first few days. The aim of these questions were to help us remember our goals why we are making these films. We have been busy making our films for the past few days now so it was good to take some time to refocus and make sure we're still on track.

Shooting some last minute footage
Very soon after, we got back to work. The teams were all at different stages of production, which is expected with their unique styles. There was editing, filming, even props making in the studio which is slightly worrying as the groups should probably all be editing by now. There was definitely progress being made, however, I just hope that this progress is enough to get the groups all on schedule.

Borrowing eyes from another team
There was an encouraging amount of cooperation both within the teams and between them. I loved seeing the interns help other teams when they weren't busy with their own films. Because editing is often difficult to do with three people at once, there were many times throughout the day when a team member was not needed in their own project, freeing them to help others with theirs.

Interns get messy
The studio got a little messy today, not because the Interns are dirty, but because there was some very arty filming taking place. The techniques used in some of the their films are unique and exciting. We all look forward to seeing the final results on Thursday.

Interns play music and work
The end is slowly creeping closer. With only one day to finish everything, the pressure is on for everyone to get their projects done. Luckily, to ease the stress, the interns had access to a guitar and cookies. Both of which are proven to relieve mental pressure… I think. The atmosphere in the studio is still positive though, and everyone is still enjoying being a part of the programme.

– Photos and text by Reuben Poharama and Martin Hill, AUT Media Mentors

Monday 21 July 2014

Youth Media Internship 2014: Monday Morning, 3-Day Warning

Editing in Adobe Premiere Pro
Starting the day with a lesson in Adobe Premiere helped clear the fog in our minds in terms of how to piece together our short films. Jacques showed us all how to layout the windows, sort the files and some basic editing techniques. The tutorial was followed by action – trying this ‘editing’ thing for ourselves. 

Showing a quick mock-up video
For the next while we began to put shots, titles and images together to form the basic outline of our films. Not aiming for perfection, but rather an idea of what it could be. These quick videos helped us explain the direction of our production and how we are going to achieve our goals.

Notes from the critique
Each group presented their rough cut videos and spoke about the direction of their production. It was exciting to see the creativity in what has been done so far and it gave us all an opportunity to find inspiration for our own films. Critical feedback from the group helped to understand how each film is perceived by individuals. We look forward to what the interns will be doing over the coming three days.

Snacks to cure the stress
Wait… Three days? Actually more like two and a half. These films will need to be completed by Thursday which leaves the final half of today, then Tuesday and Wednesday. Not a lot of time at all. Don’t worry everyone, more snacks have been ordered to help with the stress.

– Photos and text by Reuben Poharama and Martin Hill, AUT Media Mentors

Thursday 17 July 2014

Youth Media Internship 2014: Do you need it? Yes!

Figuring out the camera
Today was a jam packed day focused around the Interns filming the things they needed to. It was pretty intense and, for some, like jumping into the deep end having done nothing like this before. They took this in their stride and gave it their best shot.

Working together as a team
In each group they had different roles and responsibilities. They really took ownership of these roles. They understood which part each of them played and how these parts came together as a group. The planning really shone through and allowed the groups to work effectively to complete the tasks that needed to be done.

Interviewing the Director, Rhana Devenport
When filming in and around the Gallery the Interns interacted with the people there. It is interesting to see such a diverse range of people all from different backgrounds coming together in this one place to appreciate the art within it. This diversity allowed the interns to gain some interesting responses from these people when they interviewed them.

Selecting music for their short film.
Only two groups could film at a time because either Mindy or Selina had to supervise the interns. So while two groups were out filming the other two were conducting research about their enquiry. The Interns had access to the Gallery Library and spent their time reading books, gathering information from online sources and some even began selecting music for the soundtrack of their film.

Together with the Youth Events Sqaud (YES)
Today we also had lunch with the Youth Event Squad (YES). This is a group of young people that work with the gallery staff to plan and run exciting events for other young people at the Gallery. Many of them have come through the Youth Media Internship program and inspired many of the current interns by showing them where these types of opportunities could lead them.

Working with the content
The rest of the afternoon was spent watching and organising the content that had been generated throughout the day. Doing this can be just as important as generating the content in the first place and is often something that is overlooked. The interns had some important decisions to make. What do they keep or disregard? Do they need more content? Is there anything missing?

– Photos and text by Reuben Poharama and Martin Hill, AUT Media Mentors

Wednesday 16 July 2014

Youth Media Internship 2014: Make a Move

The teams became a lot closer today. After writing out our individual strengths and goals, we decided, as teams, the roles that each person would have. It was helpful for us, the documenters, to go through this process at the same time as the interns.

Each team was then to write and present a proposal for their films, explaining what their film is about and what they want it to look and feel like. Writing a good proposal is very difficult and presenting it in front of people is often intimidating, however, the interns showed intelligence and insight in their work. Presenting their proposals allowed the teams to receive constructive feedback from the rest of the group.

We needed to start making things. The gallery was hosting an event that invited members of the public to make leis, either for themselves or to add to the community lei. How could we miss this opportunity? At the same time, we were invited to listen to a storyteller tell Hawaiian legends. This was a great source of inspiration as many of us will be telling stories through our films.

Sandwich break! Everyone out! We’re moving! The high school students were all eager to go to University.

Colab at AUT University has provided us with filming equipment and a studio space to work in for the two weeks. This afternoon was an intense round of workshops on storyboarding, journaling and filming, which were very “hands-on” and allowed for the young artists to finally feel like they were making something as a team. It was great for the interns to see the different techniques and ways of doing things in all three of these areas.

The feeling of excitement is building as the teams get closer to starting production. I have a feeling it’s going to get very intense very soon...

– Photos and text by Reuben Poharama and Martin Hill, AUT Media Mentors

Monday 14 July 2014

Youth Media Internship 2014: An Intern’s Personal Reflection

Day 1

The thing that struck me during today, was how much about art I don’t know. Before arriving at Auckland Art Gallery, I assumed that the majority of what was left to understand about art was mainly about personal interpretation. However, after today I have come to a different conclusion. During our tour of the Gallery Selina explained to us the composition of several early 1600’s paintings. She explained how, since most people of that time period did not know how to read or write, artists employed symbolism into their art work as a way of creating narrative. Although this was a fairly simple idea, to me it was a very important piece of knowledge that I was shocked I was missing. It reminded me of how much there is left to learn and made me even more grateful than I already am to be involved in the program.

Day 2 

Today was a strongly idea-based day. During the most part of it, we were brainstorming and pondering what aspects of the Gallery, and art as a whole interest us. After many different activities, discussions, and a delicious lunch, our group has successfully come up with an idea to investigate that interests all of us, one that we we are very excited to work on for the rest of the time here.

– Anonymous Intern

Thursday 10 July 2014

Engaging with our neighbours in South America

Guayaquil, Ecuador
What do we generally know about South America? In April I was able to spend a month researching art in three countries in South America in preparation for an exhibition at Auckland Art Gallery. This was a long awaited trip as my last visit to the continent was in 2006 when I co-managed the project TRANS VERSA, artists from Australia and New Zealand, with Danae Mossman, which resulted in the presentation of artworks at the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo, Galería Metropolitana and Centro Cultural Matucana in Santiago, Chile. Apart from my ongoing research into art from that area from afar, my understanding of the South American continent was second hand. It had largely remained known to me though its ancient history (Rapa Nui, Incas), colonial settlement, the authoritarian regimes of the recent past and natural wonders that include the world’s longest mountain chain (the Andes) and features including the Amazon River, Atacama Desert and Galapagos islands.

I was eager to be reintroduced to art from neighbouring countries across the Pacific Ocean, and hope that this future exhibition project will find a similar sentiment amongst the New Zealand public. An exhibition of recent art from South America answers the Gallery’s vision of offering transformational experiences that strengthen and enrich our communities. While obvious cultural differences exist between New Zealand and South American countries, the South America–Pacific nexus is growing. Economically, both regions have thrived while most of the world is still under the throws of the global financial crisis. There is an increasing flow of South American citizens to New Zealand, especially from Brazil, and close trade partnerships exist between New Zealand and Brazil, Chile and Argentina. Yet New Zealanders have not been exposed to art from this region. Alongside the growing sense of collaboration in trade and policy on both sides of the ocean, collaborative art projects raise the possibility of enhanced cultural understanding between neighbouring countries.

My itinerary was devised to coordinate with my colleague in this project, independent Chilean curator Beatriz Bustos. We began at the SP-Arte Fair in São Paulo, Brazil, where over 120 galleries show their wares in the Biennial Pavilion in Ibirapuera, the fabulous pavilion designed by a team of architects including Oscar Niemeyer. Like all art fairs, SP-Arte only gave a taste of the rich and varied contemporary art practice represented by commercial galleries from around the continent. Photography and three-dimensional or installation based work was most attention grabbing, despite the presence of works demonstrating the legacy of geometric abstraction in Brazil and surrounding countries. The strong sensibility of memory, so present in the work of artists practising in the 1970s and 80s, had been replaced with new foci in the work of a younger generation.

Sp-Arte, São Paulo, Brazil
Evident from this fair, and from our research in galleries, museums and visiting artists’ studios in Brazil, Argentina and Chile was the varied and exciting mix of artwork being undertaken by artists. While it remains impossible to categorise art being made in one city, let alone by country or continent, many works showed a clear engagement with local issues – including contemporary lifestyle, public and private corruption, the tension between religion and new freedoms, Indigenous issues, the changing state of the environment – alongside art that conveyed abstract and universal themes. Each country has its own distinct blend of cultures and Indigenous peoples, historical and contemporary culture, and rapid urbanisation in which raw life is intersected by new aspirations for lifestyle and different attitudes toward history. Demian Schopf’s image of one of the many homemade designs for a festival parade in northern Chile, Jukumari, 2011, clearly combining components from Asia with popular culture, gives a sense of the cultural mash-up at large.

Joana Vasconcelos, Casarão (installation view), April 2014, Casa Triangulo
The art of younger contemporary artists, growing up in the new ‘democracies’ in South America, naturally reflects their context, which includes greater access to and communications with the rest of the world. The sense of change is palpable in art as much as it pervades daily life and the broader political and economic spectrum. Transformation is precarious at the same time, as the situation in Argentina indicates and as was evident in the growing voice of the underclass in Brazil unhappy with their treatment in the lead up to the World Cup which acerbated the lack of public services and wealth inequalities in that country. Nevertheless, there is also much art which engages with beauty, pleasure and aspects of tradition, as evident in the new work by Joana Vasconcelos which we experienced at Casa Triangulo in São Paulo.

This research visit raised as many questions as it loaded us up with encounters with artists and artworks. Bustos and I have much to discuss in regard to the how we frame art from South America for audiences in New Zealand and which artists, writers, performers, film makers, poets and philosophers can join the project and enrich its experience in Auckland. We propose that an introduction to the recent history of the countries involved in the exhibition is as important as the public programme of film, music and discussion that accompanies the exhibition. I hope you will follow us on our journey of discovery over the coming months...

– Zara Stanhope, Principal Curator

Youth Media Internship 2014: What's the Big Idea?

Discussing responses to questions and quotes

Today the Youth Media Interns focused on generating ideas and looking deeper into the enquiry that each group wants to follow. The exercises that the interns took part in today helped them come to a greater understanding of what they would like to research. One exercise particularly looked at a range of questions with various strengths and weaknesses. The interns reflected on these which helped them formulate their own questions that they were personally interested in.

All of the different exercises were not only to help formulate enquiries but also build connections within their teams. Each group was able to understand and make effective decisions quickly with each member having an input. This will be crucial when they start producing their short films as they only have a limited time to complete many tasks.

Conveying meaning through movement
The interns have shown an impressive amount of enthusiasm and intelligence. They have also built strong relationships with their colleagues which is vital for any successful team. Everyone has made the most of the time that we have had, especially today, which was filled with valuable learning experiences.

Thinking as a team
Today was also valuable for us as the documenters. We will be making a short film as a documentation of the Interns’ creative process while they produce their own films. We also went through the idea generation process with the interns today. Our enquiry is about each person which meant we needed to get some insight into their thinking through the use of reflection.

Ideas for reflection
Personal reflection will not only help to document the process but will also help the interns gain insight into their own ways of thinking and doing, creating a greater awareness of the decision making process.

– Photos and text by Reuben Poharama and Martin Hill, AUT Media Mentors