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Mark Amery's Lowdown #7

Emily Hartley-Skudder
Tim J Veling
May the Winds Not Carry Us Out to Sea
UNTITLED (D21.281 GALARI BARGAN) 2018 - Courtesy the artist and Tim Melville Gallery, Auckland
The passing of a great painter, what’s happening here and overseas, plenty of great reading and watching. Here’s Mark Amery with the seventh instalment of the Arts Media Lowdown.


Catch up with news, insights and content online from across the arts in Aotearoa New Zealand over the past fortnight.


“The ways in which we fund and value arts in Aotearoa New Zealand aren’t working for many theatre makers and venues. I want to know what the international arts climate is like and how theatre practitioners living in different countries react, respond, and lead their arts sector.” So writes theatre director Jane Yonge, who has helmed award-winning work like The Basement Tapes. That kaupapa has led her to head off in July to complete a Masters in Arts Politics at Tisch School of the Arts at New York University, thanks to a recently announced Fulbright Award.

Also from Fulbright, Coco Solid has just been named this year’s recipient of the Fulbright Creative New Zealand Pacific Writers Residency at the University of Hawai’I in August.

Also travelling: Emily Hartley-Skudder will go to Xiamen on China’s south coast for three months from September as this year’s Wellington Asia Residency Exchange artist. Hartley- Skudder has made a strong impression with her take on domestic interior design nostalgia, extending painting into installation. Back home, Johanna Mechen has been awarded the inaugural Visual Arts Residency at Wellington’s Toi Pōneke Arts Centre from July. Mechen will examine the relationship between the concept of a mother as curator of children’s creativity, and a mother who is an artist.

Auckland based Hikalu Clarke has been awarded the Gasworks residency in London in October. Clarke features alongside three other “brightest young things” in this strong set of profiles by Anthony Byrt for NZ Herald last month, coinciding with their Auckland Art Fair projects. At the fair Clarke turned a Lexus Sports Coupe into dazzling sculpture by draping it in retroreflective glass bead fabric.  The Big Idea’s Sam Grover spoke to Hikalu last month.

By comparison playwright residencies are lamentably rare in NZ. But Wellington’s BATS Theatre are hosting Scottish playwright Morna Young as playwright in residence in an exchange between the two countries run by Scottish theatre company Magnetic North, Playwrights' Studio Scotland and New Zealand playwright agency Playmarket (who recently had Young on their 2018 Playwrights Retreat). Local playwright Arthur Meek was resident with Magnetic North in 2016 and the resulting play Erewhon was co-produced by Magnetic North and Christchurch Festival in 2017 and will premiere at the Edinburgh Fringe in August.

Other News

"There's one thing about a young country, the people are susceptible to new things, they don't have a prejudice,” so said Milan Mrkusich, who passed away last week aged 93 on being given an Arts Foundation Icon Award in 2003. Mrkusich was one of the most significant New Zealand painters of his generation, considered by some to have painted the first abstract painting of the modern era in New Zealand in 1946. He is known for his colourful but spare and incredibly elegant geometric abstraction. There’s a nice tribute at the NZ Herald here but as others have noted, yet again, the media position the New Zealand leaders of modernism as men (Peebles, Walters, McCahon, Hotere and Mrkusich) neglecting the likes of Rita Angus, Louise Henderson and Frances Hodgkins.

Following the last Lowdown item on Zac Langdon-Pole, it was announced at Art Basel on June 13 that Langdon-Pole is the BMW Art Journey winner, awarded by an international jury. “Langdon-Pole’s journey,” reports his Auckland dealer Michael Lett,” is titled Sutures of the Sky, and will take him later this year across a world that humans and birds have been navigating through millennia. He will follow the flight paths of birds like the white stork or the arctic tern, traveling along the earth’s axis where the Northern and Southern Hemispheres’ summers intersect.” 

A large-scale artwork is to feature on the outer wall of Tūranga, the new Christchurch central city library, expected to open later this year. Christchurch City Council have a video looking at the collaboration by Māori artists Morgan Mathews-Hale and Riki Manuel.

“Most of the arts publications in New Zealand are printed in very short runs which makes it a challenge for people to find the publications created by our arts community,” says Stuart Shepherd, who is leading the publication of an NZ directory of art books, Off The Press. It's being published by printers Soar Print, an unusual but welcome move for a printer, clearly due to Shepherd’s passion and networks. Fred Soar has been a generous contributor to many arts organisations, so it’s clearly a heart project for Soar. The first edition featuring 50 recently published works will be launched at October’s Artweek in Auckland and submissions are now open from here. Check out the announcement here on The Big Idea. Are there other such directories overseas?

Australian artist Jonathan Jones’ giant fluorescent wall work at Dunedin Public Art Gallery (192 fluorescent tubes no less) draws its inspiration from an exchange in the 1920s between Sydney’s Australian Museum and Otago Museum of Aboriginal, Papua New Guinean and Maori material. Jones discovered in the Dunedin collection a boomerang originating from the area where the indigenous artist’s family comes from. Keeping up their strong arts written and video coverage here’s the story in the Otago Daily Times.

Palmerston North is to get its own Fringe: the Palmy in October with at least six venues lined up. Registrations are now open for all-comers. It’s led by Centrepoint Theatre General Manager and general great Palmerston North arts advocate Kate Louise Elliot. Elliot recently returned to Centrepoint after work as Director of the Creative Capital Arts Trust in Wellington, which runs the New Zealand Fringe. More from Elliot on Stuff here.     

Congratulations to Pacific Dance for organising the Pacific Dance Festival, which runs through to 23 June at Mangere Arts Centre. It also features the Fā’aliga exhibition of both traditional dance costume from Auckland Museum and costumes from contemporary dancers. At the end of May, Mangere Arts Centre held their first buzzy looking Meetup for artists to come together, led by Ema Tabola.

Auckland theatre company Burrowed Time have been working with Basement Theatre and iticket to run a pay-it-forward scheme for young people. With A Gambler’s Guide to Dying you can make a donation to allow a performing arts student to see the production for free (students can sign up here). Producer John Burrows was inspired by London theatre Donmar Warehouse, who receive no government subsidy and ask their patrons to pay full ticket price on behalf of a stranger through their 'Young + Free' programme. Like Donmar Burrows hopes to extend the scheme to all under 25s.  John Burrows wrote a Soapbox for us , it makes for very fascinating reading.  

A ‘Civic and Arts Property Award’ at the Property Council New Zealand industry awards has gone to the Ellen Melville Centre in the Auckland CBD, which The Big Idea profiled as a revived arts centre late last year here. An example of the Ellen Melville’s new life: progressive St Paul Street Gallery at AUT has announced a two-day symposium at the centre in August. Two Oceans at Once looks at “new programming structures and conceptual frameworks for exhibition making” to be realised at the gallery from 2019. “Conceptually, it will be shaped by three core interrelated kaupapa: language, knowledge, and love. This new programme reflects structurally that we are in a constant state of becoming, and ‘coming into relationship with’ our context, as embodied by attitudes of manaakitanga and whakawhanaungatanga.” Facebook event here.

And finally on the subject of property, a story of my own hatching: Letting Space’s Urban Dream Brokerage in Wellington has called it a day after five and half years - brokering vacant space for some 61 creative projects in a time - and in its farewell message calls for more support for independent artists here. The brokerage continues in Dunedin (projects here).     

‘May the Winds Not Carry Us Out to Sea’ 

Reading and Watching

Brydee Rood created an installation as part of United Nation World Environment Day 2018, one of 12 around Asia and the Pacific. ‘May the Winds Not Carry Us Out to Sea’ was a large airport scale windsock, created reusing collaged sections from assorted single-use plastic rubbish bags. A video of the work’s creation is here.

Christchurch photographer Tim J Veling has long now been beautifully documenting the evolution of vacated residential red zoned suburb Avonside, Christchurch. Sally Blundell reviews his Vestiges at COCA in the Photoforum review section. A gallery of some of the work can be found on Veling’s site, where he notes he intends to be still photographing Avonside “well beyond 2022”.

Tim J Veling - Vestiges

Celebrating Matariki the Arts Foundation interviews Dunedin choreographer and artist Daniel Belton ahead of his celebrated Oneone being screened outside on Wellington waterfront end of the month. The best read story on our website is The History of Mataraki  and this year we have presented it in Te Reo.

Coinciding with his major survey exhibition at Christchurch Art Gallery, Tony De Lautour is in a written conversation with fellow artist Peter Robinson looking back at their Christchurch ILAM art school training and their practice since. More artist-on-artist interviews please.

“Uku is currently enjoying a time in the limelight. However, recognition of uku within Māori communities, let alone in our country’s art spaces, hasn’t always been a given.” A beautiful piece by Bridget Reweti on uku or Maori ceramics practice in New Zealand.

“Artists are like the dairy farmers in the Coles/Woolies price war; we’re being taken for a ride and it’s unsustainable. Posh new shiny buildings don’t create vibrant art scenes, by and large artists do. We wish all the stakeholders had a better grasp of that fact.’ So says Richard Watts on Artshub in reaction to news of Australia’s largest contemporary art gallery being constructed in Melbourne. Across the Tasman but oh so pertinent.

Publishing online is Genre Books in Dunedin, who have just published and made available for free Smoking: The Homoerotic Subtext of Man Alone' by Janet Charman, a reassessment of the famous John Mulgan book.

Finally, visual art projects online remain relatively rare in NZ (we’ve previously shared meanwhile). Window Gallery have a strong current programme – the latest work online is by Ana Iti.

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

Written by

Mark Amery

19 Jun 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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