Make a big difference to The Big Idea.  Help us tell the most creative stories.

Home  /  Stories  / 

Blurring Things is An Artist's Job Description

13 May 2020
The man behind 'Project Fear' - the latest Creative NZ #TFA feature - lets us behind the doors to what's inspired him during lockdown.

The days of visiting galleries and exhibitions are temporarily on hold - but hopefully not for long. The lost opportunity to get motivation from walking through new spaces and soaking in different works is a void The Big Idea wants to help fill. 

Our ‘House Visits’ series takes you into the homes and working spaces of people in the creative world, to see what they have collected on their travels, what it means to them and what they’re using as inspiration inside their own four walls.

John Reynolds - Auckland 

As a visual artist, I’m typical of my contemporaries in that my life has changed little in lockdown.

What we do, we do generally on our own.

It’s a solitary occupation, punctuated with moments of compressed socialising and occasional collaborative professional misbehaving. 

To blur things is in our job description, yet the singular business of art-making requires hours and hours percolating in one’s own company...

This is a possibly a flawed model but it’s the enduring one, and Coronavirus or not, we tend to have to habitually internalise before credible work emerges. 

I find regular walking in the city the apotheosis of this process - I’m both solitary and lost in my pedestrian thoughts, yet totally socially configured in the random urban crowd.

Other artists do it differently, as someday l will no doubt change working strategies. 

And though of course I’ve missed meeting friends and strangers (I can't shake my pre-COVID handshaking need), I frankly have loved the Level 4 birdsong, biking, bubbles and car-free streets.

Having Lockdown Blues, of a nostalgic bent...

Can we have a New Green Normal please, not that dumb ol' BAU????

The Tour Begins

Books and reading are the best revenge... in fact, we’ve removed doorways, even windows, in our house to accommodate the crucial battle between bookshelves and art-hanging walls.

Here we see several artists' work elbowing onto the bookshelves, including a Mary-Louise Browne (Pale Skin) and an Elliot Collins (Blue Objects), amongst the inevitable artist’s books.

This is small domestic corner near our kitchen featuring the work of Bill Culbert, Australian Neville McArthur, and Kevin Capon’s sublime portrait of Colin McCahon.

I love how Bill’s two photographs meld the currency of dailiness and pleasure in a breezy equation of temporality and light-fall.  

While Neville’s nocturnal painting above, navigates a similar trajectory in a delirium of waterholes and the celestial. 

With Kevin’s wry portrait of Colin overseeing and no doubt approving of the company he’s keeping...

Finally, this is a small kitchen top COVID tableaux featuring a David Shrigley piece, alongside a toy of a famous boy reporter and his dog in full proto hazmat kit.

As David S would say, ‘No Shutting Your Eyes. No Weeping.’

Self-portrait at home in full Level 3 attire, contemplating a jigsaw. 


You can experience John Reynolds' ‘Project Fear’, a reminder of the power of words both to hurt and to heal, as part of Creative New Zealand’s Thankful For Art series here - a national campaign to highlight the value of the arts during COVID-19 lockdown and beyond. You can find out more about #TFA here. The text-based artworks are being auctioned through Webb’s, with full proceeds going to Auckland Hospital’s Art Fund. More info here.