Sunday, November 30, 2008


Laxmi in front of her paintings

Francis Atkins Mr Colin Ised

Elliot's Pour Canvas #4

Tias's Untitled

Arriving at the 12x12 Format show at North Art was like stepping into a home furnishings store. You could probably go along and find a nice painting to match your drapes. Thank God I didnt come across any pohutukawa paintings (a sight that is known to instantly cause my teeth to grind in a silent fury) as I would have probably run out the door, screaming incomprehensible derivatives of the english language, whilst ripping eyeballs from sockets.

I can't say that the 12x12 format is a particularly interesting surface to be working on, let alone having to confront 99 of them all in one space. Which is what I thought would be rather exciting about the show, the fact that you'd have to work around and out of such limitations to produce something interesting. However, not many people really tried to challenge the 12x12 format either, choosing to 'embrace' it as a very tedious paint surface instead. Which is fine, if the painting itself wasnt so tedious as well.

The only thing somewhat challenging about this show were a few of the entries done by our fellow AUT comrades, pictured above, (and I say this coming from as objective a place as i possibly can), including an old soldier of yesteryear Francis Atkins (who took a break from uni as of last year but I heard will be returning sometime). I spotted her work a mile away, and was glad to see she was still practicing even out of AUT as i was always a fan. Was particularly tempted to buy her painting (3rd picture down) at a very reasonable price of only $150, however, the tightening of my purse strings in an attempt to save money for my impending trip (like squirrels hoarding nuts for winter) put an end to any cash spending.

Spotted: a rather boring Van Gogh/Cezanne combination, instantly transporting me back to the 'Whitecliffe Days' (see post below) and also IGCSE Art in 5th form where we spent our days painting this. Either trip alone is not a pleasant one, let alone a freakish hybrid of two.

Also plenty of stuff like this:

and this:


I think Thomas said he saw a painting of a capsicum as well. How very lovely! A capsicum! I wonder what colour it was. Red? Green? Yellow? I could talk all day about a capsicum painting, I really could.

Thomas and I also remarked about how some of the paintings, particularly the two of the interior/exterior of boats, weren't too bad, if only they had an extra say...10 layers of paint on them? Some people had an um...good?...application of paint, but others really needed to prime their canvases some more and as we said, get a little more heavy handed with the paintbrush. Paint is your friend. Do not be afraid.

This show has me using the word 'good' as an adjective.


I can say however, the opening night had some very tasty savoury mini muffins and sausage rolls which were rather 'mmmmmmmmmmmm' inducing.

But we do not come to these shows for the food! No we do not.

Anyway, I guess it's all relative. This show serves a purpose for giving opportunities to artists who perhaps have part-time practices in between their day jobs etc. It is only a pittance to join to North Art which guarantees you a spot in a show like this as well as a chance to show in a selective exhibition another time in the year. And I was told that this exhibition normally sells very well, which means that for every critic, there are many people who would most happily gain something from the fruits of this show. Which is know, art going to good homes and all...but is that what art is about? I don't think the answer to that question is as simple as yes or no mind you. Hmmmm...

Interesting to compare this show to the National Drawing award (they both run on the same sort of 'level playing field' idea using the limits of format and the fact that everyone is exhibited).

To end on a nicer note, a picture of a dog, snapped at the exhibition. Awwwwww, my 12x12 contribution (I do realise it is not 12x12).

I think my mum would rather like this show.

- Agnes

p.s. Lookie at the affection shown by the Barrs. Muchas Gracias Over the Net! We also like Bruce Lee and ping pong. And we most definately like Nunchucks...

Friday, November 28, 2008


Spotted: Elliot Collins!

And Linden Simmons!

Winner of the Merit Award

Amber's Efforts

And Laxmi's

Winner John Ward Knox accepting his shiny trophy

and Ward Knox's Drawing

Everyone crammed into the stuffy Artspace to hear the (not so unexpected) announcement of the winner of the National Drawing Award.

There were so many drawings, I couldn't see how anyone could vote for a people's choice because I had so many favourites. Such a predicament meant that I was better off not voting as I didnt feel as though i had enough time to judge exactly who I thought my vote should go towards. Perhaps I will go back on another day to make a properly informed decision.

How exciting to see so many of us in the show. Apologies for the lack of images, I wasn't very much in the picture taking mood.

Some friends and I then went to the opening up the road at Starkwhite, not so much to say about that either. It was very starkwhitey.

Starkwhitey? I have lost all ability to converse. So very sorry.

- Agnes

Fired Up

Check out the AUT Masters Graduate show...Woop di doooo

Some of the Visual Arts was quite interesting, paticularly Linda Roche's dotty pigment painting that resides in Gallery 1.

I also quite liked Becca Wood's eye mattress installation, which freaked the hell out of both Alan and me. I can see why she suggests that there only be one person viewing at a time, as to really hit home that strange feeling you get like you're somehow being watched...there was after all a camera attached to the ceiling supposedly filming you as you dared put your face closer to the stabby mc stab stabbed (and filthy) mattress to watch the film... so very exciting.

Other stuff, not so much. I remarked on the level of presentation of some work as being amateur (think printsprint spiral bound thesis'). Being a graphic design MASTER should they not have some sort of other imaginative/innovative way of presenting a year's work (or two years?) in something other than the acid free A4 paper that comes straight from the Konica? Have they not been shown other possibilities? We saw plenty of great examples of book work presentation at the Elam show. So very disappointed to not have been able to experience that level here.

Perhaps the show would have been more exciting on opening night (you know, with the free booze...lots of free booze), especially since a few people had already de-installed by the time i got there, which was only the next day...

What???? How blastedly annoying!! The show has been advertised as being on until the end of the weekend!! Why de-install?? Are you so ashamed of your work you do not want anyone to see it?? Note my use of double punctuation!!

It musn't have been all that satisfying either to have only had your work up for a few hours for the few people on the night to see. It almost suggests a lack of respect towards the show and everyone else in it.

I am very angry.

What's the point of a graduate show that's only good on the night it opens? Did not expect it to be such an ephemeral exhibition, fleeting and momentary, I missed the magic. If there was any to begin with that is.

- Agnes

p.s. Keep in mind, this is the university I attend, therefore, I did expect so much more from it and am now ranting and raging because keeping such rant and rage inside is not good for the soul. Or so I'm told.

Monday, November 24, 2008

As Promised...

From AUT to Elam and finally Whitecliffe.

Having never really had any experience with Whitecliffe other than the horrid three hour gladiator gauntlet/bang head against wall here/art classes I took there as a small wee child...painting the grey scale and learning how to copy Van the add on of the freaky Whitecliffe Castle building which used to scare the bejesus out of me (I swear to God it was haunted...and not that cool kind of Harry Potter haunted either, no Nearly Headless Nicks here...) It's a wonder I ever touched a paintbrush again...

So naturally, I was intrigued to see what happens in those studios all the way on the upside of town. So mysterious that Whitecliffe tower...Perhaps not so haunted now that I do not have the rampant imagination of a seven-year-old, alas, the mourning of my seven-year-old imagination...

Keeping on track, Thomas, Simon and I were delightfully surprised at the level of work at the graduating exhibition. I commented on how I thought it was a more enjoyable exhibition than that of Elam, due to simple factors such as:

- There were less exhibiting artists!!! When Elam tries to cram 120 students into a show, the mind begins to wander and the body gets bored of getting around the bloody place. Art-xhausted was what we were after friday night. But this was a rather nice amount, without compromising space etc...

...which leads on to the next factor:

- Space!! I dunno about you, but I was rather confused at some of the presentation of the Elam work...Kind of all over the show, almost as if some of the art grew legs and was starting to breed and multiply, creeping up onto it's neighbouring/fellow artists space as well...But it was rather clear here, that each person had their own space and enough to do what they needed to do as well, which in the end, makes it much easier for the spectator to decipher which is which and what is what...

-And finally, THE FREE STUFF! Yes free stuff was overflowing to the brim, coming away with printed designwork, plenty of wonderfully designed business cards and even an embroidered towel! But mostly it made me remember who each artist was and most of the giveaways seemed carefully considered which I like...(As I'm not always so easily swayed by things of a free nature especially if it's free crap, crap that is free is still crap right??)

Favourites were:

-Lilly Johnson's little worlds. Loved the relation made of each world to a particular surface, be it rug, chair or wall. Such consideration into simple use of colour as a relational tool made this installation so effective. And the photos in the book...nice.

-The letters to Sophie Calle. Mainly just because I like Sophie Calle. Along with that interesting box/video.

-The Basketball guy!!

Words to describe this exhibition:

- Why the Foamboard?? (the ample supply of foamboard in each and every direction, mounting everything that Whitecliffe students could possibly put their hands was as if the stuff grew from the wall...)

- No Neon! (Neon Neon everywhere we look in Auckland, but obviously not at Whitecliffe)

- Painting Drought (apparently everyone thinks canvas is so passe!)

As usual, our roving selves inspect every single detail of each work, and comment on whether it has lived up to specific...shall we say presentational standards? Safe to say, most of it was up to par but we still stumbled across a lot of shoddy shelf work (hmmm I mean...80 degree angled shelves are just as good as 90 right...right???) but here are three that really got us all stamping the ground and pointing our fingers...

What a shame that this painting was spoilt by this one small mistake. Although I don't blame them for wanting to continue with it...

And the bowing of this particular photograph left it angling another couple of centimetres off the wall than it really should be! Elam Flashback!!

And although you can hardly see it in this photo, this wall was wavy!!! A wavy wall?? We weren't too sure whether it was on purpose or not...but after much deliberation, we decided it wasn't part of the work and felt rather sorry for the poor chap who had to display on this distorted wall...I would have struck up a fuss, especially if my work relied so heavily on the wall (these photos were stuck directly onto it). Please correct us if we are wrong and the wall was supposed to look like a tamer version of this, after all we are only human.

Anyway, rant over with, here are some little 'oh look at that!''s:

A little funny on the side, Thomas spotted a design student doing very similar work to what he has been exploring this semester...perhaps they should get together and start some sort of miniature 3d/2d model building clubhouse fun?

And another funny, perhaps a little worrisome...someone has finally cracked onto my artistic intentions...

I also liked the succint statements put up by each artist. They were quick to read in the crowded and somewhat hostile environment that is opening night. Overall, the Whitecliffe posse seemed very pleased with their output and the opening night had a very warm and happy feel to it (nothing to do with the humidity I assure you). What a lovely bunch.

- Agnes

Saturday, November 22, 2008


Elam Infiltration = Graduating Exhibition

Some visual highlights from the open evening which saw us arriving at the B block 'party' somewhat late and getting kicked out of the building by security. I blame it on Saskia's sketchy directions...

Anyway, what to say? We were rather overstimulated by the end of it all, having seen enough art to fill the 10% of brain function that we apparently use...yes art was overfloweth, and as with any exhibition like this, there was plenty that I took to and plenty that I would rather put in the 'man i really wish i didn't have to fill my petty 10% of brain function with that...'. But it is all very much personal preference anyway. V. Impressed with some of the masters stuff (at least the stuff we saw before security man/bouncer guy told us the show was over) and also a few of the 4th year students. Lots of experimentation with video (as is expected with Elam I guess) and not so much painting (which doesn't seem to be Elam's strong point anyway).

Favourite would have to be the 14th picture down, a sculpture/drawing/paint installation of sorts entitled 'Counting Backwards from Infinity'. As well as the clever dude who made the remote control hand. And the skinned cat which reminds me of a part of this book I'm reading at the moment where a man kidnaps cats and cuts them open alive, devouring their still beating hearts in order to build a flute... (On a side note, I am not condoning the skinning of cats, they are our friends.)

Presentation on most seemed to have been well considered. However, Elliot drew our attention to this painting which had been warped so much, it came at least a good three centimetres off the wall...

We then debated about whether (especially at graduating level) this artist should simply have made the chop to this painting and not have included it. What would you have done?

Looking at the Open Day website I came across this quote:

"Elam Open Days is a chance to celebrate the calibre of talent that exists within the School. It might be difficult for some people to imagine what life as a fine arts student is like. Elam Open Days can help shed light on the mysteries of such an endeavour and help people understand the challenges and rewards of earning a degree from Elam," says Professor Pretty.

Ha!!! Shed light? I don't know about that...Elam is still very much an enigma as is any art school to anyone who doesn't attend it (and I mean live/breathe it). And I highly doubt that a video of two girls rubbing a strange white liquid substance on each other in a blow up paddling pool can really lend itself to shedding light on anything other than reinforcing stereotypes about art school and it's attendees.

Is opening a studio up for two days, adequate enough light for a proper 'infiltration' of the ideas and workings of art school?

Perhaps such open days serve only as a temporary bridge between art school and everything else that is not art school, but like, one of those rickety Indiana Jones bridges where you're not too sure whether or not you will make it to the end without it disintegrating into the large lava pit of hot, steaming, molten rock below...

Perhaps such days really, in the end, serve something as simple as the basic human need for celebration, or a coming to an end. Closure, if you will...

Leaving Elam, I figured I had a slight sense of what exactly is on the pulse. What is all very 'fashionable' at the moment. I can see why people attending Elam think that they are perhaps more 'conceptual' than us AUT-ers. I could dispute that opinion but that is another argument altogether...

All in all, was an exciting (over-exciting perhaps too) show.

Whitecliffe Graduating Show on tuesday anyone?? Hella yessssss

- Agnes