Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Kids Art Festival THANKS

On Saturday 8th May CEAC held its annual Kids Art Festival - thanks to all those involved, we had a wonderful day.
Photographs by Anne-Sophie

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Bears' and Smack Images

Bears by Bernie Harfleet


Smack by Donna Sarten

Monday, May 24, 2010

Bears’ & ‘Smack’

Bernie Harfleet, Donna Sarten
Tauranga Art Gallery
14 May – 11 July (Floor talk 29 May 1.00pm)

Corban studio artists, Donna Sarten and Bernie Harfleet have work at Tauranga’s public art gallery for the next two months, after being invited to show by gallery director Penelope Jackson.
Both works reflect these artists concern for the treatment of children in New Zealand, and both works are award winners.
Donna’s piece ‘Smack’ won first prize in the Lincoln Green sculpture award, as part of the trust awards in 2008.
Bernie’s work ‘Bears’, of which this is the gallery version, won best sculpture at Waitakaruru sculpture park last year.
The Tauranga Gallery has been open since Oct 2007 and has received an architecture award for its design. It is built on the site of the cities first BNZ bank, and still retains the old vault where this work is being shown.
Further information can be found at-‘ps_pagename/latestnews/news/197

'Bears' by Bernie Harfleet

Bears (detail)

'Smack' by Donna Sarten

Sunday, May 16, 2010

'Chaise Lange' - A new commission by Peter Lange

On Friday 28th of May at 461 Karangahape Road, a new work by Peter Lange, studio artist at Corban Estate Art Centre, will be unveiled to the public. 'Chaise Lange', the title typically tongue-in-cheek, is a public bench atop an undulating ‘flax’ mat comprised of thirteen hundred hand-made tiles. It replaces the organically inspired ferro-cement seat and accompanying plant bed which has been a familiar sight for over two decades.

Jointly funded by the K’Road Business Association (KBA), Western Bays Community Board, Auckland City Council, Uptown Arts Trust and Caluzzi Bar and Cabaret, the seat will be officially gifted to the city by the KBA. Lange gives particular credit to the vision of Barbara Holloway (KBA) and Nora West (formerly of KBA) and commends them and the Auckland City Council, for their “positive approach”.

Lange, chiefly known for his playful brick sculptures, was commissioned four years ago to replace the “much loved” crumbling street furniture outside no. 461. The fixture’s iconic status was in part because of its close association with Caluzzi Cabaret Bar and its role as prop in drag queen performances. Lange comments that “…that part of K Rd is fairly flamboyant with a lively night life...I wanted to make a seat that had a certain exuberance... (and) perhaps a slightly camp feeling to it.” 'Chaise Lange' is playfully illusionistic and sinuously dynamic. It has also been built to withstand the weight of three substantial dancers.

The thirteen-hundred hand-made tiles which replicate the look of woven harakeke (flax) are bolstered by 300 – 400 kilograms of steel reinforcing. Working in steel was a new approach for the ceramicist. He is thankful he called on the services of other specialists to assist with the steel structure.

The individually shaped tiles were designed on a computer program. Although subject to shrinkage and changes to curvature though firing, he says “...I didn’t have too much trouble on the way”. Ending up with too many left hand tiles and not enough right hand tiles was also a problem easily resolved. With help from his daughter Jenny, the bespoke tiles were successfully fitted into the myriad of curves in the design.

Lange has used the concept of woven fibre before. It features in brick, as seen in, ‘Brick Bag’ on Waiheke. Another piece is the ‘woven tent’ at Auckland Botanical Gardens, made with fired tiles over a fiberglass structure. Lange states, “I love the illusion of flax weaving – there is nothing too profound about it, (it) is simply a surface I enjoy reproducing. I enjoy the kind of double-take it can induce in the viewer”. Playing with illusion and the contradictions possible between materials versus subject has always been rich with potential for artists. This is certainly the case for Lange. 'Chaise Lange' is a continuation of that exploration and is a striking piece of street furniture with an important role to play on one of Auckland’s most colourful streets.

Kyla Mackenzie

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Artspeak 22 April 2010 Under Scrutiny, by Melissa Anderson Scott

Main Guest speaker: artist Melissa Anderson Scott
Additional guest speakers were three friends and portrait sitters: artist John Lyall, ceramic artist Peter Lange, and print and bookmaking artist, Beth Serjeant.

In this informal and frank discussion, painter and tutor Melissa Anderson Scott discusses the motivations and concepts behind her portrait show: Under Scrutiny. This exhibition presents a two way conversation between the sitter/subject and the artist/observer. Nine portrait subjects from the art world are depicted in various ways and mediums alongside their own visual and or textual response to Melissa, their observer and friend.

Melissa, when asked about finding the idea for the show, explains that these friendships are also rich creative partnerships. Much of her art, she says, is “…a result of contact with my very creative friends… I wanted to celebrate that dialogue”. Fittingly, direct inspiration came from a longstanding friend and writer who had herself been exploring in words what it is like to sit for an artist. Nine friends were then invited to an “exchange” or as Beth Serjeant suggests, a “collaboration”.

Melissa feels that with a lot of portraiture, a viewer is left with little additional contextual information as to “Why did the artist choose that person?”
Why did they depict (them) in this way?” Under Scrutiny is an attempt to highlight the relationships and thought processes of and between both subject and artist.

Unfortunately, Melissa broke her painting arm which reduced the time she could spend on some portraits. She was “forced out of her comfort zone” in terms of how she approached certain works and in the mediums used – she adopted more light weight materials and mediums such as watercolour and graphite and wash on paper.

To sit for a portrait can very often be a confronting or self-conscious experience.

John Lyall commented: “I’m an artist so in theory (this) should be familiar…. But I have never been looked at - I’ve always done the looking… I’ve never sat for a portrait before”. A series of strokes have limited his mobility and changed his appearance. He spoke candidly about feeling discomfort while sitting for his portrait. “(I’m) not very happy with the way I look… I would like to be more beautiful and younger”. He has used a poem to convey his thought processes during the sit regarding his looks, changed body, and the peculiar experience of being scrutinised. This is described as “very honest”, by Melissa. (In fact, his large-scale portrait consists of his head only with its slightly wondering, nervous, quizzical eyes.) He concludes, “It was good for me to confront myself through someone else’s eyes”.

Ceramic artist, Peter Lange, also refers to “…a certain amount of vanity in this (exercise)” It is “…very hard to get that (objective) picture of yourself”. You “…want to look good”. Beth Serjeant also mentions the narcissism which seems to be shared by many sitters. “Reality…stings”.

Beth, a practitioner in book arts, was struck by curiosity when Melissa described the exhibition concept. She understood the motivation: “When I work with writer’s works I respond to the writer as much as the writing”. Her thoughts led her to all the past conversations Melissa and Beth had shared and which she describes as “nourishing”. She remembers the many meals they have discussed ideas over. Suddenly, while twisting paper, her idea for a response presented itself: “Oh yes, nourishment, food…”. The result is shredded pages of text in noodle formation in a black steamer and bowl with chop – sticks. (The phrase ‘Food for thought’ comes to mind.) The concept is also, she says, in keeping with the eco –emphasis of Waitakere city.

Peter, hoped to meditate on the actual experience of the sit. For him, as it turns out, sitting “…is not some great mystical thing”. It is quite “prosaic” – “Missy talks quite a lot…”

But the experience was fruitful nonetheless. Melissa’s studio is sited against Mt Eden, a place with many memories for Peter. He recalls the actions of Artists Against Apartheid, a group which included Stanley Palmer. Despite the presence of police, Stanley lit a fire in Maungawhau’s crater in protest. The volcano is also bustling with activity, including hawkers, buses and a continuous stream of visitors. Peter thus came up with the concept of his deliberately gimmicky Mountain series – of ceramic moulds of Maungawhau with gleaming light at their centres. “I’m a sucker for that adolescent stuff”, he says.

Actress Elizabeth McRae (not present at the talk) reportedly found the experience disorienting. Accustomed to performing rather than ‘playing’ herself, a series of poses were adopted. These however, were rejected for the resulting and rather introspective portrait. Elizabeth peers solemnly at her hand which performs shadow puppetry on the wall; a metaphor for her own skill at illusion.

Historical elements and the portraiture tradition are a preoccupation for Melissa. Many of the portraits in Under Scrutiny feature abstracted heraldic emblems which hang by strings as in Beth Sergeant’s portrait or as if wallpaper as seen in the portrait of her daughter Lucy. Lucy’s white turban also references Old Master portraits. Birds feature as part of her personal iconography and hold a variety of meanings for her. They operate to provide a contrast to the stillness of the sitter; “…the settled and …the unsettled”. They are also “messengers from the dead…or from other realities”. Alternatively, they may allude to the lively activity of both the artist and sitter – “ideas and thoughts”.

Such ideas and thoughts are given a visual dimension in the cryptic portrait of Deborah Smith which shows her with eyes shut. A series of motifs – an elephant, key, and heraldic emblem – float above her head. The artist states, “I wanted to capture her very rich interior life”.

While this is a show of depicted individuals by a close friend, the artist has also, in the words of John Lyall, brought together a contemporary “slice of artistic Auckland”.
She has also garnered support for a genre which despite centuries of being a mainstay of fine art, has often been received with reservation in the 20th and 21st centuries.

Under Scrutiny is on show until 23rd May.

- By Kyla

John Lyall, Melissa Anderson Scott, Beth Serjeant and Peter Lange at Artspeak

'Reach – Beth Serjeant' by Melissa Anderson Scott

'The Brick Curtain – Pete Lange' & 'Portrait of an Actor – Elizabeth McRae' by Melissa Anderson Scott with Beth Serjeant's 'Unititled' in foreground

'Maungawhau Souvenirs' detail Peter Lange

Artspeak with 'Monumental Man – Portrait of John Lyall' by Melissa Anderson Scott (background)