30 April, 2017

Scale is everything

I went to visit Gibbs farm last thursday.

Gibbs Farm is not a farm. Not really. It is a world class outdoor sculpture  gallery on the Kaipara harbour, just north of Auckland.

It opens only a few times a year , often as a fundraiser , so I jumped at the opportunity to visit last thusrday. It required a 5 am start. People, that was hard. I am NOT a morning person.I had invited Di Tocker (the glassmaker) along because she knows her sculpture stuff and I needed some education. When you are going to spend 8+ hours in a car, travel with a person who is interesting and can navigate. It took us almost 4 hours to get there.

So the backstory is this: Alan Gibbs buys the farm in 1991 , establishes it as a world class sculpture park, invites artists to spend time on the farm and ,in collaboration, a work is commissioned and then created. Some artists have returned year after year to establish a link.....one thing is for sure. They are all quite spectacular and unique. I think it's an open chequebook kind thing.

There are big names and big works. Anish Kapoor's incredible "Dismemberment1" had my jaw dropping. I had seen it before in a catalogue, but in real life, the scale and the situation of the work in incredible. So much attention has been paid to the work that even the triangle of grass that lies underneath the sculpture is planted in a low growing, shade loving grass, to maintain the artists vision of the red over green....so sandy, scruffy patches!!!
Andy Goldsworthy's Arches were half submerged, but there was a great photo in the book.It was the only one I did not see at close quarters.

It went on and on like that. Work after work . If I muttered "Scale is everything" once, I must have muttered it a thousand times. How deeply anchored must a 28 meter high sculpture on a ride be?! How ? I kept coming back to the mechanics of assembly and creation.How? The ideas and the translations thereof. How? So much discussion and so many questions, made my head spin. It was so very worth the 5 am start!

Some photos:

Di catching a view of the Kaipara Harbour and being my scale model.

Bernar Venen. 28 meters tall corten steel.

Len Lye's posthumously erected Windward. It could only be fabricated after his death once the technology had caught up with his vision.

Windwand and the Kaipara Harbour with what Di and I suspect is new work being created in the mangroves 

the tips of Andy Goldsworthy's Arches

Google Gibbs farm. Really. It's visionary.

11 April, 2017

Nudes and news

"something old
something new
something borrowed
something blue"

Traditionally used at a wedding (when dressing a bride), this little ditty held true for my visit to the latest exhibition at the Auckland Art Gallery, The body laid bare : Masterpieces from the Tate.

I had been rather keenly anticipating this exhibition and FINALLY managed to wrangle a free day in my schedule to travel up to the big smoke and visit. I have a great love of the figure in painting although I do not, as a rule, use the figure in my work.  I invited the lovely Jenni Stringleman to join me and she has the joyous commute of a hop on the ferry from Devonport over to the City itself.

Viewing an exhibition with another is so good for understanding. Her perspective and mine are different( she paints a good nude!) and yet we both exhaled with pleasure and awe when we came across some works that were clearly quite extraordinary. In one room, several heroes were gathered on the wall: Lucian Freud,  Francis Bacon, Cecily Brown, Willem De Kooning. We circled Rodin's sculpture "The Kiss", marvelling at the detail, the lack of it, the sheer enormity of the task, the lost and found edges in that entwined , iconic sculpture. David Hockney, Tracy Emin, Alice Neel...the names ...Bonnard, Matisse, Picasso....Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth, Cindy Sherman....names, BIG names. And in front of us. We scrutinised, pointed fingers, oohed and ahed. We spoke A LOT. Not for us the hushed , reverential discussions. We were too excited and engaged for that.  We wondered what would shock us( if anything did) and were both surprised when we each found the thing that pushed that particular button. And for each of us, it was quite different. It was nice to be a bit shocked again. It's been a while! We circled through the exhibition twice. Flesh junkies.

Then off we went  to meet Jenni's lovely husband Dave for lunch. He took us to a newly opened restaurant on the waterfront where I has some  fish carpaccio thing that was delicious( I was too busy talking to pay attention to the meal name. "I'll have what she's having "was what seriously came out of my mouth when it was time to order) and we nattered until it was time for Jenni to catch her ferry home. Dave had to listen to us gabble on about flesh and paint and ideas and colours . The man is a saint.

No photos, (which I think was stink).
But all this makes me think of the figure and gets me excited to consider it again.
It's there, in the back of my mid, but I am a way from including it at the moment because I have not yet worked out or have clear understanding of what that figure would be. I greatly admire the work of Euen Macleod, Kevin Sinnott , Alex Kanefsky etc who place the figures in the landscape with such particular reason. I don't have that reason yet, so , till I do, I don't go there.

I am exhibiting this easter weekend at the Baffin Street Gallery with Hillary Ramage, Carole Shepheard, Tai Meuli. 15/16 and 17 April, 9.30 am till 5 pm.  812 Baffin street Gallery ,Pirongia . There will be a closing event Monday 17 April at 3 pm, should you wish to attend and meet the artists. Yes, me included.

River Fisher will be there!

I hope the cyclone will have passed by then!

Ps. I told my boys I was of to Auckland for the day. Bored faces looked back at me. 
"To see the nudes" I declared. They both flinched. 
"Nudes?!?" they echoed.
" Yes, from the Tate. Borrowed nudes"

total confusion 

Eldest then says" I may reconsider my opinion of art galleries"
Youngest" Nudes?!?"

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