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Compilation: Hamilton in June

There is so much art activity going on at the moment in the Waikato that this review, of necessity, has turned into a compilation album. The Wallace Gallery in Morrinsville has become the hot place to be and be seen, and recently a group show entitled, Between the Lines, show-cased the work of artist, Rose Meyer. Her unique process of mark making involved the use of a device that creates an automatist line Max Ernst would be proud of. Her trick to producing a random series of lines on paper – a chaos of swarming marks or a bird’s nest of linear configurations that fill up an A3 size page, involves an ingenious methodology. She built a little ‘tray’ on wheels, punched a hole in the middle through which she fixes a pen. This device is then placed inside an A3 box with matching size paper and then the box is taken for a ride; literally. The back seat of a car is ideal, or, to up the ante, the box is sometimes posted through …

Fat Maui: how he broke the internet

In the last week my Facebook feed has been full of critiques about Maui’s representation in the upcoming Disney film Moana, penned by New Zealand’s own Taika Waititi. This will be one in a sea of think pieces which have already started flowing here or here and even here on The Guardian. This was intensified after a meme surfaced comparing Maui to a pig and a hippo. To date it has 1247 shares and 2800 likes and climbing, doing it’s rounds in the Pacific Island community both in New Zealand and world wide. There are various arguments against the Disney depiction of Maui and many stem from comparing the build of Maui the Polynesian demigod (which people are calling obese to the point of perpetuating stereotypes) to real-life buff Pacific actors who play non-Pacific often European heroes such as Samoan The Rock Dwayne Johnson as Hercules or Hawaiian Jason Momoa as Aquaman. Even characters such as King Triton from The Little Mermaid aren’t safe from the crossfire. The non-Hollywood representation of deities across different cultural landscapes …

All is unfair in art and privilege

Header Image: Terror Internationale, installation view, as part of Pacific Real Time. Image courtesy Nikau Hindin I. I stood outside The Cloud in the rain for a good ten minutes. I was experiencing equal parts intimidation and trepidation, anticipating that I might not be the usual folk to attend an art fair. I did go to the last Auckland Art Fair in 2013 but I moved in and out rather quickly. Much like a Travel Expo I’d been to previously, I had ambitious ideas but no substantial amount of expendable income. I left only with dashed hopes and picturesque business cards.     No, I didn’t pay for this ticket. At the entrance, I presented my crumpled paper ticket to the attendant. Across the way, Karen Walker and Petra Bagust hovered together amongst a booming crowd at the Paul Nache Gallery stand. It was wet outside and windy in, yet they appeared pristine and immaculate. I quickly hurried past a handful of swanky dealer stalls to a place littered with more recognisable faces. The not-for-profit …

The Absent Sense at RAMP Gallery

Somewhere out in the universe decaying stars that have morphed into deep black holes are converging and churning up space and time in a terrible cataclysmic process.. If an astronaut happened to be floating by in the vicinity, they would hear, (if still alive at that point) the sound the collision made. The sound might be a ringing or groaning, or screaming at a pitch high or low enough to reverberate throughout the eons of spacetime, for all time, eventually reaching us here on the planet. It might take a billion years but by the time it did reach us it would be so faint as to be ‘impossible‘ to hear. But machines are being built 4 square kilometres across, somewhere in America to pick up this sound and allow us to eavesdrop on these soft discordant cosmic notes. We call that, science. In New Zealand we put sensitive microphones down among the grapes to hear them fermenting. Or at least Kent Macpherson does, Master of Arts graduate in Music from Wintec.   This is …

Mother’s Ruin goes to Bedrock

This is an on-going series that investigates Bella Horlor’s new role as a young mother. An artist and poet, Horlor shares the banal quandaries that exist between artistic and maternal labour. I hauled the baby from the warmth of the car. I’m sorry girl but I’m not missing this one. I fumble with my keys, and lock the car before I remember that breast milk is a natural sedative and actually that might be my best bet here. So into the front seat she goes, on the boob looking up at me with a slight frown. I haven’t been to an art show since becoming a mother. Mainly because they often tend to be right around our bedtime, and honestly when I found out I was having a baby, I lost plenty of friends who were more comfortable to just leave me to it. That’s been fine, but not for this one. This one was Bedrock, a show at a Studio One Toi Tū by Charlotte Benoit. Charlotte and I were in the same year …

The Makers at YES Collective

The YES Collective is leaving K-Road, but not by choice. Rents are rising, leases have been abruptly cancelled, artists and artisans are being pushed out to make way for the shiny, the new, the very expensive. These are, of course, the final steps in a gentrification process that seems as inevitable as the tide – a process that actually began decades ago. Nonetheless, around K-Road, ‘gentrification’ is once again the word on everyone’s lips. So, YES has to go and, what better way to leave than with a show (or two).  If it helps to recoup the losses and pay off the debts incurred by running the space, then so much the better. Since 2014, the YES Collective have operated their K-Road loft as a “catalytic space”, open to all creatives. Projects, exhibitions and other artistic endeavours run by the collective have tried earnestly to be inclusive, provocative and forward thinking. A one-night-only event, The Makers was the penultimate of four final YES Collective experiences. The previous two involved a pot-luck dinner, games evening and …

Bird in Flight at Skinroom

There are a series of very slim and sardonic books doing the rounds at the moment, spoofs put out by those perennial Ladybird Book people. You might remember them from your more tender years coming at you with titles like “The Little Red Hen” and “Treasure Island”. These latest works have a bit more bite to them, aimed as they are at a slightly more mature and cynical demographic. They present with titles like, “The Vegan,” The Emo”, “The Sexist”, “The Gamer”, “The Vlogger”. The title I possess is called “The Hipster”. It has 52 pages making satiric jabs at targets dying to be jabbed at, subjects that include, scratch cinema, action poets and no-linear campaign provocateurs. Trendy fashion is one of the foci where the text begins: “Neena likes to wear hats made of forklift tyres and coloured balls.” Opposite the text is a Ladybird illustration of Neena smartly done out in said hat. But my all-time favourite would have to be the go at conceptual art. Opposite an illustration of things that are …

this is the cup of your heart at The Dowse

Marie Shannon has been following me. I met her in Auckland last year, she is still there. She was, until recently, in a window outside Vicbooks, a faint cello accompanying the smokers gathered on Kelburn Parade. She is, most resolutely, at my place of work and over the last four months I have learned to speak along with her. In What I Am Looking At, Shannon details the labour that follows a death. She lists, mostly: things that need naming, things that need putting away, photographs, artworks, clothing. It’s all flat affect, all restraint, except it also isn’t. It’s a dissociation from the scene of trauma, a channeling of energy into tracing the lines of a life, where it has been, what it has done and seen, what it has made. Or else it’s catharsis, or the promise that lists won’t ever threaten to contain a life. Lists are finite and neat by nature. Lives spill outwards, sometimes they find themselves unwilling or unable to be spoken of or recalled. Or else it’s simply that …

Pure Guava at Skinroom

“Skinroom” is an apt name given to a new gallery recently opened in Hamilton, in the suburb of Frankton. The place had a former life as a tattoo parlour and now it’s given over to art of a different kind – no hearts with daggers plunged into them or dusky maidens in various stages of undress by moonlit beaches. Nothing as clichéd as that, though such could be employed these days at the ‘high’ art end, if treated with irony and the knowing smile. Director of the new gallery, Geoff Clarke (Wintec tutor and art theoretician) might want to dispute the above assertion and claim that the vernacular should be accepted on its own terms without any snooty placement of quotation marks. None are employed in this latest exhibition called “Pure Guava”. And yet with a title like that I sense a delicious irony lurking somewhere in the shrubbery. I can feel the quotation marks coming on. And yet, perhaps we should take this drink straight because the overall sense of the show from the …