Art New Zealand

Art New Zealand Summer 2017

New Zealand’s most respected and widely-read visual arts magazine, Art New Zealand presents an independent quarterly round-up of the visual arts in New Zealand, by the country’s best art writers.

New Zealand
Art New Zealand 2009 Ltd


clifford hamilton whiting 1936–2017 (and taiapa’s unfinished book . . .)

You have to have stories or some kind of whakapapa relationship to make it [i.e. Māori art] work effectively and properly. Cliff WhitingHe hawhi Māori, he hawhi Pākehā kei au [ka katakata ia], engari he Māori katoa ōku mahi. Cliff Whiting, TVNZ Waka Huia, kōrero 2015 (22:49) Te Whanakao te maunga Oraka te punawai Kereu te awa Ko Kaiaio te hapū Ko Te Whānau-ā-Apanui te iwi I first came across Cliff Whiting via a single page of elegantly penned calligraphy. It was 1986, the sender’s address was the family home that he, his wife Heather and their boys―Gary, Paul and Dean― shared, in Kororāreka. I’d asked for help on an art history thesis on Te Whānau-a-Apanui kinsman Paratene Matchitt. While not extending a tautoko he expressed concern I capture the complexity and the strengths of Matchitt: the…

michael nicholson 1916–2017

With an engineer father and an armament-manufacturing uncle, Michael Nicholson might well have been earmarked for a life spent down at the pragmatic end of human affairs. But then again he was a Nicholson, nephew of the painter William and a younger cousin of one of the most feted British artists of the twentieth century, Ben Nicholson. His early years in a typically English boarding school, and then on active military service, left Michael feeling, as he told Pat Baskett, ‘looking a bit straighter up and down’ than he felt. However, he emerged sufficiently unscathed to enrol, post-war, in the Camberwell School of Arts and Crafts, then teach at the Central School of Arts and Crafts, London. Transplanting to New Zealand in 1953, Michael made an immediate impression on the staff of…


Auckland Roberta Thornley A Serious Girl Tim Melville Gallery 28 August–30 SeptemberEDWARD HANFLING Over the years, I have found that one of the good things about looking at art, especially with reviewing exhibitions, is being forced to contend with stuff I would normally edit out of my life, not even let anywhere near me. Art encompasses many tastes. A good deal of what I digest does not agree with me. But because I love art, I love its surprising guises, the unexpected ways it weasels its way into my senses. Artists get excited about things that are weird, distasteful, sickly sweet, trite, grotesque, inane, dreary, uncomfortable, nice, complicated―it does not matter, art can wrap itself round anything. Some critics use these things to make judgements, and decide an artwork is good because it deals…

blooming new

Several years ago, while walking on a very special bush track tucked away down the back of my uncle’s home in New Plymouth, a new bloom caught my attention. Through the shadow of dense and dripping trees came a glimpse of synthetic colour, a sparkle of glitter; Reuben Paterson had moved into the neighbourhood. Paterson (Ngati Rangitihi, Ngai Tuhoe, Tuhourangi, Scottish) emerged from Elam School of Fine Arts in 1997, and in the years following established himself as a singular voice within the ranks of this country’s contemporary artists. His works in glitter became more widely known from the early 2000s, ranging from luminous kowhaiwhai, to retro florals, to op-art patterns and kaleidoscopic colour. In his work, Paterson collapsed time and culture, bringing together his own Maori and Pakeha histories, mixing…

dream house

The idea of the house as a home is at the very centre of Marie Shannon’s retrospective Rooms found only in the home, at the Dunedin Public Art Gallery: all paths lead to ‘home’ as to a treasure chest waiting to be unpacked. The photographic and video works in her exhibition, methodically pared down from her back catalogue, form a complete narrative—a familial one and an elegiac one, tracing out how her life and her career as an artist intertwine, like climbing plants round a house. Always stubborn in pursuit of a particular manner of presentation, her preoccupation with the preservation of memories—moving between enchantment and disenchantment, between japes and meditative reflection—here, rather finely and profoundly, achieves a kind of apotheosis as her thematic progressions complete a narrational cycle. The first…

poetic anachronisms

When I was at art school in France I had a friend whose parents were responsible for a very small provincial museum―the Musée du Parchemin et de l’Enluminure in the Rouillon-Sarthe region. I remember going there with a group of friends and we were all catapulted back 500 years deep into the European Middle Ages. This museum was also a workshop which housed several hundred types of mineral pigments and plant extracts that were used to reproduce medieval scripts. In this extremely labour-intensive process everything was made from scratch― from the sheepskin leather used for the pages of the books to the illuminated gilded script―and visitors could see and touch the anatomy of this bygone artform. It all created the impression of being stuck in a time machine, not unlike…