Lowdown #15: live at home at work.

Rebecca Patrick’s Caravan-Stay at Oriental Bay earlier this year. Photo supplied.
Peter Madden, Anonymous, 2018 (installation detail), paper, glue, steel, MDF, acrylic, commissioned by Hastings City Art Gallery for East 2018, courtesy of the artist; Robert Heald Gallery, Wellington; and Ivan Anthony, Auckland
Tru Paraha in performance. Photo supplied.
Jess Johnson and Simon Ward, 'Whol Why Wurld' (installation view), 2017, The Walters Prize 2018, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki. Photo supplied.
Rebecca Patrick, Te Manawa, Tru Paraha, Roger Hall, Robert Burns Fellowship, East in Hawke's Bay, Brian Brake, JK Baxter, and Walters shortlisters: here's Mark Amery with the arts news and weather.

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Mobile art

With her homemade, one-person off-grid, bicycle-driven, curvaceous retro caravan,  Wellington artist Rebecca Patrick has been exploring portable micro-holiday housing. Since early August she has been living in a window of Victoria University’s Vivian Street School of Architecture and Design. She’s there until the end of Wednesday. Made with a jigsaw and a drill on the kitchen table, this wee house made its first appearance on the waterfront during Performance Arcade in Wellington, and there’s delightful documentation of other people’s seven-day stays in the caravan since. Working as she does at the School of Architecture and Design, Patrick certainly cut down the carbon footprint on her work commute.

Stop press! Unlocking Te Manawa

This just in: Te Manawa's art gallery in Palmerston North will reopen at the end of next month, with an exhibition dedicated to the art collection housed by Te Manawa. This is some good news for many who as previously reported are calling for better treatment of the gallery and collection. After public concern about a planned 10-month closure, the Palmerston North City Council and Te Manawa management have pared back the amount of improvements and repairs to reopen early.

Crossing Space

"More spaces and opportunities for committed independent artists to thrive are greatly needed in Aotearoa dance,” says Tru Paraha, who was recently awarded the 2018 Māori Choreolab: Te Kanikani Whakamātau by national dance organisation Dance Aotearoa New Zealand (DANZ). Paraha will hold a three week choreographic lab over September and October, working alongside three dancers and a film-maker on a project with the working title Anon.

Paraha is a poet, former member of Lemi Ponifasio’s company Mau, and recently created blackOUT (reviewed by Lisa Samuels at Theatreview). Her work crosses performance, writing and art disciplines.

Tru Paraha in performance. Photo supplied.

NZ Theatre Month

September is inaugural New Zealand Theatre Month, an initiative of senior NZ playwright and box office high roller Roger Hall. NZ-made theatre, as we reported last Lowdown, is hitting all-time content highs. Indeed the Theatre Month website gathers together 100 events in September alone. So, Radio New Zealand’s Simon Morris asks do we really need such an event? In this feisty conversation Morris spoke with Hall, Thomas Sainsbury and Renee Liang. Hall agrees there’s an incredible amount of NZ work about, but comments that “by and large the nation doesn’t seem to be aware of it. Knowledge seems to be local rather than national”.

Theatre Month kicks off September 1 at Bruce Mason Centre in Takapuna with a tribute to seminal playwright Bruce Mason. The event includes a reading from Mason's play Hongi, featuring Haami Piripi, a direct descendant of Hongi Hika in the lead role.

South and East

It’s the 60th anniversary of our oldest literary award, the Robert Burns Fellowship at the University of Otago, with a gathering of Burns fellows on September 7. Exhibition Auld Acquaintances: Celebrating the Robert Burns Fellowship will open in the de Beer Gallery at the University of Otago. Current fellow is poet Rhian Gallagher.

Hawkes Bay’s Hastings City Art gallery has worked with visiting curator Bruce E Phillips to boldly re-vision the nature of a regional visual arts review show. Biennial exhibition East has this year been more focussed around “direct engagement with practitioners and place” and, in what is a significant event for the arts in the Bay, the recently opened exhibition is for the first time to be held in both Hastings gallery and Napier’s Museum Theartre Gallery (MTG) - two cities close to each other but not always known for working well together. According to Hastings’ gallery Director Toni Mackinnon it’s “the fruition of both MTG’s and Hastings Gallery’s desire to see East become a region-wide event.”

Peter Madden, Anonymous, 2018 (installation detail), paper, glue, steel, MDF, acrylic, commissioned by Hastings City Art Gallery for East 2018. Courtesy of the artist; Robert Heald Gallery, Wellington; and Ivan Anthony, Auckland​.

Scenic flights

The first New Zealand film to be nominated for an Oscar, 1953’s Snows of Aorangi has been pieced back together and beautifully restored by Ngā Taonga, New Zealand’s audiovisual archive. The scenic film was directed by photographer Brian Brake with poetry from James K Baxter. The restoration - reconstructing it and bringing back the colour and detail - is illustrated in this interesting short video on their Facebook channel. Ngā Taonga plan to release the film online soon.

Dane Mitchell will participate in the first Thailand Biennale, to be staged most enticingly outdoors, in various natural and cultural sites in scenic Krabi from November. Mitchell also revealed a whole lot more detail about his his work Post-Hoc for Venice Biennale in conversation with Kim Hill. An “inventory of the vanished and gone” will be read out including, says Mitchell, “former nations, ghost towns, cured diseases, withdrawn drugs, destroyed artworks , lost archives, closed libraries, disbanded political parties…” It will be beamed out in Venice from poorly camouflaged ‘stealth cell-phone towers.’

Mitchell also talked about Iris, Iris, Iris, a work about to open at Auckland Art Gallery which was a co-commission with Japan’s Mori Art Museum. It’s the result of long-running research into scent production and the diverse meanings of the word ‘iris’. There are a few images on the Mori site and, for something less highbrow, Dane and wife Tana Mitchell shared their Japan travel tips with NZ Herald earlier in the year.

More arts content online

“I am looking at a little dog on wheels. I am thinking of making him a little hat with ears on it.” A delightful Q&A with artist and singer-songwriter Delaney Davidson in Switzerland features on the Arts Foundation website ahead of the release of new album Shining Day. And hasn’t the last month been a remarkable one for NZ music releases? Dudley Benson, The Beths, the Finns, Avantdale Bowling Club, Tami Neilson and Ha The Unclear are by my bed.

Davidson is part of the released lineup of the Hawkes Bay Arts Festival in October, ahead of a November tour.  Also out now are programmes for the Nelson and Dunedin festivals and Titirangi Going West Writers Festival in September and October. Spring is on its way! Podcasts of last year’s event are available here, including hits from poet laureate Selina Tusitala Marsh and Bill Manhire’s jazz/poetry ensemble Small Holes in the Silence, with more besides.

In a new Radio New Zealand series Toi Maori artists talk about how their work reflects their identity, culture and narratives. First up is Hone Hurihanganui, talking about revising the play he wrote following the death of his father some fifteen years ago, Hine Kihāwai.

The Walters Prize shortlist exhibition has opened at Auckland Art Gallery. Earlier this year I had the pleasure of interviewing at length the finalists for RNZ’s Standing Room Only:  Ruth Buchanan, Natasha Conland on Jacqueline Fraser, Pati Solomona Tyrell and Jess Johnson and Simon Ward. Announcement of the international judge for the award (to be given in November) is surely imminent.

Jess Johnson and Simon Ward, Whol Why Wurld (installation view), 2017, The Walters Prize 2018, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki.

Artzone is a regular arts magazine, handy for its exhibition listings but also increasingly for online publication of some of its hard copy stories. Here’s an interesting feature on the revival of pottery.

Andrew Wood has written on Lisa Reihana’s In Pursuit of Venus and Lana Lopesi on new media and contemporary indigenous work in the latest issue of Sydney art and design journal Di’van, available to peruse on Issuu.

Finally, for those working in the community arts, Creative New Zealand have created a best practice guide: a Community Arts Toolkit. How’s that defined? CNZ: “Community arts are created by, with, and for a community. The community is actively involved in creating the art.” There's a host of case studies brought together in videos at the Creative New Zealand youtube channel.

Want more of the Lowdown? Check out Mark Amery's past Arts Media Lowdowns here and subscribe here  to our weekly bulletin so it comes straight to your inbox.

News and content ideas are welcomed for future editions of Arts Media Lowdown. Please send to mark.amery@thebigidea.co.nz.

Written by

Mark Amery

21 Aug 2018

Mark Amery has worked as an art critic, writer, editor and broadcaster for many years across the arts and media.

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