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Lowdown #27: Art and about

Evan Woodruffe. Image courtesy of Art New Zealand
The Vivian Gallery
Amanda Gruenwald. Photo: Sam Hartnett
James Littlewood rips open Pandora’s box of this week’s shenanigans.


Artists Alliance closes its doors

It was bound to happen, but that never makes it any easier. And, frankly, we’re a little worried about what - if anything - can fill the gap left by the Artists Alliance. Over the twenty seven years of its existence, sixty nine artists benefited from their mentoring programme. Thirty two graduates went through the intern programme with arts organisations all over the country. They supported countless events by coordinating volunteer programmes, and many of the volunteers they attracted went on to full employment within their organisations. They were regularly called on by the country’s major (and minor) educational institutions to provide professional advice to the grads. In short, they were awesome, and now they’re gone: not even a Baudrillardian mirage in the silence of cyberspace remains.

A sniff of summer

The days are getting longer, and so are the sculpture trails. Sculpture on Shore is a sprawling exhibition on the well mown cliff-tops of Fort Takapuna, overlooking the Hauraki Gulf. Proceeds from all the art sales go to Women’s Refuge, and the charity is also the starting point for long time exhibitors Donna Turtle Sarten & Bernie Harfleet’s contribution to the exhibition, who’s large scale work presents over 500 large, wooden pellets of the type used to load stuff on forklifts, all configured into a maze-like work. NZ Herald arts writer Dionne Christian has the write up over here.

Meanwhile at the southern tip of Te Wai Pounamu, Riverton (a town best known for fishing and surfing) is gearing up for a festival of that most urban of mediums: street art. South Sea Spray is the brainchild of local street artist Danny “Deow” Owen, who has brought together a collection of fellow street artists, each of whom will have a freshly painted wall to deal with, as well as a series of workshops. The group will also collaborate on a 25m mural.

New site for new art

Art Now is "a user friendly listing site for NZ-wide contemporary visual art exhibitions, events, galleries and news”. Developed by Hayley White and Stephanie Post - co-directors of Auckland Art Fair - its tasty layout and no-nonsense navigation make it super easy to sniff out the art shenanigans near you, wherever you are. It even lists current shows and events in that long fabled land of othery wonderment: Offshore. When we checked it out, we noticed that some bigger galleries didn’t list all the shows they had on, which struck us as odd. And we hope that before long, the site will manifest more South Island locations, besides Christchurch.

Another new site for new art

Hamilton has a new gallerist in a new gallery. Laree Payne has opened Weasel in Victoria Street. Earlier in the year, Elli Lee-Duncan opened up Tacit, just down the road. Read all about it (and about the massage parlour Payne converted), here.

A sporting chance

After sixteen years at Toi Whakaari, and seven as Director, Christian Penny is moving on, announced recently on TBI. With an ambitious creative vision and easy familiarity with te ao Maori, he was always a perfect fit with the school. Still, things change - the surprising part is where he’s heading: High Performance Sport New Zealand, where he’ll be leading the Coach Accelerator Programme. The new year will see Christian working with elite coaches in a range of Olympic and professional sports. If you’re the type to gape your jaw, foam at your lips and splutter “WTAF”, now would be the perfect opportunity.

A Portrait of Uawa Tolaga Bay

Here’s a strange and wonderful story of the artist and curator John Walsh. Many years ago, he painted a colossal mural consisting of sixty portraits of the people who lived at Uawa, AKA Tolaga Bay, for his marae there. He depicted the residents alongside a range of fantastical and religious figures. For complicated reasons (aren’t they always?), the marae politely rejected the painting, and it spent the next forty years in storage. Now, it’s on display at the National Portrait Gallery in Wellington.

It’s a strange and beguiling tale of youthful ambition and realpolitik.

It’s a strange and beguiling tale of youthful ambition and realpolitik, over Radio New Zealand.

Hefty new art prize

Tauranga Art Gallery has announced a new biennial painting award called the Rydal Art Prize, with $20,000 up for grabs. In partnership with Seeds Trust, the winner is chosen by a panel of four “recognised art professionals”. However, regardless how recognised they may be, you won’t know who they actually are until after their winner is announced, because up until then they’ll be anonymous. Anyway, they’ll dish out the goods to an artist who they think cuts the mustard for any work displayed during the two years prior to January 2019.

In other news from the Bay of Plenty, Tauranga Art Gallery  - known simply as Toi - recently showed an exhibition by Evan Woodruffe, entitled The World Is Porous. Evan's now the second New Zealand artist to have something to do with Jaguar: the maker of luxury cars. Woodruffe will apply his baroque abstraction techniques to one of the luxury car brand's hot-off-the-factory-floor new models. This follows Amanda Newell's Hotel Jaguar, an installation in London earlier this year, covered in an earlier Lowdown.

Speaking of hefty art prizes, Kim Lowe has landed the Olivia Spencer Bower Award, which means she’s now the proud occupant of a year long residency, and the new owner of $30,000. Here’s an introduction to the artist, by Warren Feeney over on Artbeat.

The case of the vanishing theatre award

Auckland Theatre Awards have announced they’re taking the year off. However, despite there being no awards, they have also confirmed that yes, there will in fact be awards! It seems they’ve been given a “could do better” by someone. To quote the PR, “there are some deeply held concerns about how the awards are functioning, and for whom … Auckland’s theatre community has grown so much since the awards were founded ten years ago, it’s clear the awards have to grow and develop alongside it”. At a scaled down event this December, they’ll be giving out Excellence awards, Newcomer awards and the Hackman’s Cup for most original production.

More art media

Richard Green does tons of great work. Having established the multi-faceted arts trust He Waka Eke Noa, Green runs the Ugly Shakespeare Co., produces a bunch of short films, manages New Zealand’s longest running drama-in-education group, and also produces and presents KickArts: a weekly podcast and radio show on PlanetFM, that’s 104.6FM in the Auckland region. Well worth checking out.


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Image credits, top to bottom:
The Vivian Gallery, Matakana.
Amanda Gruenwald, from New Paintings. Installation Trish Clark Gallery, 2017. Photo by Sam Hartnett.
Evan Woodruffe. Image courtesy the artist and Paul Nache Gallery.