Commentary
Lessons with Louise Henderson

Lessons with Louise Henderson

I first met Louise Henderson in May 1990. I’d recently returned from living in the UK, and moved into what had been her house and studio at 62 Gillies Avenue, Newmarket. The owner, Ross Stevenson, was still in regular contact with Louise at her new home nearby in Sarawia Street, and asked me if I’d like to meet her. I remember being quite nervous at the time and standing at the front door waiting. She didn’t open the door at first, but pulled back the old curtain on a nearby window to see who it was. She recognised Ross so all was well. She was very polite, and more than happy to let me look through the dozens and dozens of paintings that leant four or five deep against the wall in the two front rooms of the old villa.

Commentary
Identities of Journey and Return

Identities of Journey and Return

It was the novelty of seeing white people rendered by a Japanese artist that tickled me when I first saw Utagawa Sadahide’s woodblock prints of foreigners in Yokohama in the 1860s. There’s something slightly clumsy about the Westerners’ exaggerated noses and the forced rounding of their eyes. You can sense, in these images, the artist’s struggle to detach himself from the conventions of Japanese art and beauty; his lines waver here, unlike his assertive depictions of long, flat Japanese faces in earlier prints.

Commentary
The C-Word

The C-Word

It’s been a very strange time. We’ve spent the last month or so asking after each other’s bubbles, and imploring people we barely know to stay safe. Depending on your beliefs, this was the month that the world demonstrated that we could put the interests of people above those of finance, or the end of freedom. Everyone, in every indus­try and every sector of every society has been affected in some way. But our core business is art, and we’re very conscious of the effects of a global shutdown on artists. It’s too early to know what changes this will bring to our sector, so we’re concentrating on the here and now. If your life is focused on making art, how are you going? We asked eighteen New Zealand artists to send us a picture of their lockdown studio set-up, and asked them a few simple questions.

What’s your Covid-19 studio set-up? Is it the same as pre-lockdown or are you in something more makeshift?

How are you finding this time? Is it hard, or is it a gift of time, or maybe a bit of both?

What are you finding essential during lockdown? Is there a piece of equipment/view/song you couldn’t have lived without?

Here are their responses.

My Favourite
Jason Greig's Vulcan Paradise

Jason Greig's Vulcan Paradise

I’ve had a quiet fascination with Jason Greig’s work ever since I was a Year 13 student hanging about Burnside High’s art block (which, granted, wasn’t that long ago). My then printmaking teacher, Nichola Shanley, is a good friend of Jason’s and managed to get him along to one of our classes.

Artist Profile
A Lifelong Affair

A Lifelong Affair

It may have been Rachel Hodgkins’ assertion during her daughters’ childhood in Dunedin that Isabel would be the painter in the family that drew out the stubborn streak in her younger daughter Frances. And indeed, as the fates were to prove, Isabel, once married, had to put aside her brushes for the most part to care for her family, while Frances, rather than making her way as a piano teacher as her mother had intended, chose a different course. Spurred on by her Italian tutor Girolamo Nerli’s descriptions of the bohemian life in Europe and the artistic revolution taking place in certain quarters, she set out for Europe, determined to prove her family’s assumptions wrong.

Commentary
Caveat Collectors

Caveat Collectors

Extinction has claimed nearly fifty per cent of Aotearoa New Zealand’s bird species over the past 650 years. The persistent myth has it that European settlement in the nineteenth century swept away a pristine past. And most obviously, because we know their names and can catalogue (literally) their infamy, that story includes the professional bird collectors as the cause of those extinctions.

Commentary
Te Āhua o te Hau ki te Papaioea

Te Āhua o te Hau ki te Papaioea

The ‘Operation 8’ anti-terror raids in October of 2007 were the culmination of a police investigation that led to the raiding of homes across New Zealand. The raids were conducted after an extended period of surveillance, which was enabled through use of the 2002 Terrorism Suppression Act. In 2013 the Independent Police Conduct Authority found that police had “unnecessarily frightened and intimidated” people during the raids.

My Favourite
Cerith Wyn Evans's Things are conspicuous in their absence...

Cerith Wyn Evans's Things are conspicuous in their absence...

I have never seen an artwork reflect something so true. “Things are conspicuous in their absence” is such an uncommonly heard reflection that it is eye-catching. When things are around us, they seem normal and often go unnoticed; the moment they are gone it can be startling and we wake up.

Commentary
As Stark and Grey as Stalin's Uniform

As Stark and Grey as Stalin's Uniform

Heading along to the stunning Rita Angus: Life & Vision survey exhibition at the Gallery in 2009 I always had this nagging feeling that one work was missing from the walls – Angus’s Gasworks from 1933. This painting was one that I knew only through the black and white image that appeared first in a volume of Art in New Zealand in 1933; the same reproduction that was later used in Jill Trevelyan’s excellent biography of Angus and also in the catalogue for the National Art Gallery’s 1982 retrospective, Rita Angus. For the New Zealand art historian, Gasworks was a kind of legend – painted by one of the country’s best artists yet seen in person by only a very few. In 1975, when Gordon H. Brown curated New Zealand Painting 1920–1940: Adaption and Nationalism, Gasworks was listed as ‘location unknown’ in the accompanying catalogue. Amazingly the painting was also not included in the retrospective exhibition of 1982. We had grown to know this painting purely through a grainy black and white illustration from 1933. But the painting was never lost – Gasworks is a painting that has been cherished, protected and loved by the same Christchurch family since the early 1940s. And now, having been placed on loan to Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū, it is available for the public to view for the first time since 1933, when it was shown at the Canterbury Society of Arts.

Director's Foreword
Director's Foreword

Director's Foreword

As I write this, I’m still smiling with pleasure and pride at the huge success of the Gallery Foundation’s fundraising drive for our own work by Ron Mueck. Wonderful in its own right, it’s amazing to finish the 2017 calendar year knowing a sculpture by Mueck is now on its way to join the other four ‘great works’ for Christchurch.