Monday, December 21, 2009

Climate change/eco artists

The Copenhagen debacle, in which our world leaders completely failed to see the bigger -non monetary- picture, has at least pushed climate change/the destructiveness of humans on nature back into the spotlight. Although there will always be cynics and strong debate as to our ability to measure climate change in the past through carbon testing/geology etc... it is hard to argue that we are GOOD for the planet. Especially at the moment with the number of endangered species, both plant and animal, rising and air and freshwater quality decreasing.

John Key needs his head re-screwed on. The financially driven shortsightedness of the national government is unbelievable, and they're destroying the 'clean green' image of New Zealand for one of our biggest industries- tourism. Not that we are clean or green, BUT we have the potential to be, and a large number of international visitors come to New Zealand to experience the nature of the country. Twitch.

So with that in mind, I've been browsing a few pretty cool exhibitions with a climate change/eco driven focus.

Acid Rain by Bright Ugochukwu Eke.

RETHINK — Contemporary Art & Climate Change is "an exhibition of 26 works created by trendsetting Nordic and international contemporary artists working in the intersection between art, culture and climate change."

It's interesting. I really like this quote, which comes from Bruno Latour's A Plea for Earthly Sciences which IMHO should be compulsorary reading for every literate adult on the planet....:

" Everything that earlier was merely given becomes “explicit”. Air, water, land, all of those were present before in the background: now they are explicitated because we slowly come to realize that they might disappear —and we with them."

Pretty much sums it up doesn't it?  There are a few more pictures on Greenmuze.

Royal Academy of Arts (UK) at the GSK Contemporary is currently running Earth: Art of a changing world

There's a neat little highlights gallery here. Interesting to see Cornelia Parker and Mona Hatoum in there. Parker's work in particular is an adaption of  what she's done before, but it's still effective. 

Find more videos like this on

Antti Laitinen, who is also part of the exhibition at GSK,  is a Finnish artist, and you can see a fair bit of his It's My Island exhibition in the video above. 

All in all a lot to think about in relation to my own work + dissertation, and the honours proposal that I should be thinking up by January 5th.. hmmm..

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Creating Atlanta legends for future generations.

British sculptor, Jason de Caires Taylor created the world’s first underwater sculpture park in Grenada, West Indies.  The stunning underwater gallery, containing 65 sculptures, is designed to change with the ocean environment and create artificial reefs for marine life to inhabit. -

Does no one else think that this is gonna confuse the future generations once records of this have been obliterated? It's almost like playing a joke on humans of the future, that is if we survive that long.

Nick Smith the Shit....

"A cow manure bust of New Zealand’s agricultural minister Nick Smith recently sold for NZ$3,080 (US$2,233) on an online auction site.
Canterbury artist and activist Sam Mahon created the bust in a bid to raise awareness about Smith’s inactivity on protecting New Zealand waters from pollution caused from agricultural practices – hence the use of cow manure.
The piece, entitled, “Nick Smith in the Shit…” represents the artist’s feeling towards the minister according to New Zealand's The Press.
To create the artwork, cow manure was collected from an organic farm in Waikari, mixed with a resin for preservation, pressed into a mold and finished with beeswax. The sculptor describes his work as “…light and hollow and highly polished. It sits on a steel stand slightly right of centre.”" from

Well it's about time New Zealand artists started looking at how much our favourite industries are damaging the planet... although I really like this piece it's not as good as it could be; it's too much like hate mail directed to only one person, when the issue needs to be addressed  by many.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Sustainability, Extinction, and a 95 year age gap?

This makes me happy, this makes me very sad, and this just weirds me out.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Apple installation art! wahey.
Good discussion on the video about the symbology on the apple, although very specific to Washington State.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

byebabies are finally online!!!! :D

Although photography session cut short by trip to E.D with my baby brother.. broken arm! hooray. -.-

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Wild Apples in Kazakhstan

Are on the endangered species list. :( Especially the variety that most apples can be traced back to.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Green spaces improve health!!!

Which completely justifies my public art project proposal.
"Research in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health says the impact is particularly noticeable in reducing rates of mental ill health.
The annual rates of 15 out of 24 major physical diseases were also significantly lower among those living closer to green spaces.
One environmental expert said the study confirmed that green spaces create 'oases' of improved health around them."
so good on ya Wangas for having so many trees :D

I really hope this is a hoax.

Whale-penis-skin leather seats...

Wrong on so many levels.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

New AES+F Video. :D

have only watched once so far, and it took me about 10 views of their last riot video (2007) to form a valid opinion, so will watch again later, but on first view, REALLY love it. Surreal and critiquing society and.. yay! I want a budget to make works like this...

Ok, so I've watched the whole thing through a couple of times now, and still really like it. There are so many subtle references to so much, that even though it's 30 minutes long you have to concentrate on it hard to pick things up. Each time I watch it I notice new things. I like that they're still using art historical references, there are a few deposition poses in their, and the lifting of the cross(surfboard in this case), as well as the three graces and various other things.
The racial stereotypes  and their tension filled slowmotion interactions are also very effective. The animation is much smother than Last riot was, and it's much nicer to watch - the colours are so rich. The whole thing speaks aboutexcess and consumerism, international travel, and exploitation and racial division/coinhabition.
It's interesting on a lot of levels, and entertaining to watch.

Monday, October 12, 2009

For crying out loud!

Ugh. PEOPLE are so frustrating sometimes. Never underestimate the potential for damage caused by stupid people in large masses....
bloody journalism also... should be filtered.

For those in the population struggling to overcome the limitations of a room temperature IQ: NOT EVERYTHING YOU READ/SEE ON TV/HEAR IS TRUE. OK? Do some of your own research and form a valid opinion, instead of reiterating conflicting opinions like you believe in both sides of any given argument.

/end rant

Friday, October 9, 2009

Another video. Contains Nudity.

Grass Art.

Nice little timelapse video of the Fly Tower installation. 
Heather Ackroyd and Dan Harvey  have been covering buildings and monuments in grass for quite some time now. There's a good interview with them here and a great, simple explanation of how they make grass photographs here.


“we work with a living material, and life is compelling.”-Harvey
I really like Harvey and Ackroyds stuff, 

I also found, during the course of my meanderings, these grass flipflops: Where The Green Grass Grows (WTGGG) Flip Flops by Seoul-born, London-based artist Hyock Kwon, which are very cute.

I like the playfulness of grass. The greenery that we all have an inbuilt longing for...
the grass is always greener...
It's also a very natural, resiliant thing, that covers at least 25% of the earth's land mass (according to BBC's planet earth series), although human maintained lawns are controlled versions, it's still a living organism.

I also just really love green. It's something I'm just coming to. My favourite colour as a child was blue, but now I think there are a lot of colours that I really like, and grass green is definitely one of them.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Yayoi Kusama: Mirrored Years @ City Gallery, Wellington

Yayoi Kusama: Mirrored Years @ City Gallery, Wellington. (Photos of the exhibition here)
Best exhibition I've ever been to. Hands down. For the pure euphoria and childlike state that her work induces, with just a hint of the darkness of the artist's neurosis and troubled past. There's a really good article on Kusama from the UK's Guardian here.

I'm not sure which work was my favourite.
Of the Dots Obsession, Day and Night installations, I liked the night room better. The yellow room was playful and childlike and exciting, but I felt like the black room was more effective. After visiting them both a couple of times, I figured out that it was an aesthetic issue that was making the dark room more appealing for me: the shadows of the amorphous blobs in both rooms were casting non circular shadows on the floor.
In the yellow room, the shadows disrupted the uniformity of the dots far more so than in the black room, where the shadows merely gave weight to the shapes.

Although I still found the yellow room much more playful, I think there's a darker side to me that appreciated the more sinister yellow dots on black. It reminded me of wasps. The two worked so well together, though, and it seemed to be a very good expression of that bipolar nature that Kusama seems to have. The convex mirrored hallway leading up to both rooms was amazingly effective, with the reflections of the installations adding another element; the circular mirrors continuing the patterns, yet changing them and providing new perspectives from which to view the work.

The firefly room, OH MY GOD. Sorry, slightly carried away. But it was so surreal. It was like you were floating in the blackness of someone elses consciousness.... seriously. The experience is enhanced by the fact that there is a maximum of 3 viewers allowed in the room at any one time. I was very glad to be in there with my partner because going alone would have been almost too overwhelming.

The rest of the works were equally as impressive, and the overview of her life's work was just staggering, both in the amount of work produced and the depth of it. The documentary in the auditorium was also worth watching, and really gave you an insight to how she thinks and where she's come from to be making art the way that she does.

Quite interesting too, because I can still understand a lot of the Japanese, that the translations, although correct to the nearest natural English, do not quite cover all the unexpressed sentiments.

Overall, an awesome exhibition. Well worth the $8 to get in. I'd go again.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Glass and Sarjeant Review Openings

The work in the glass show was really varied, both in skill level and concept. It's very interesting seeing work that is primarily conceptual displayed alongside work which is primarily technical. I think glass needs both in order to stand alone - some of the works displayed worked well as part of the group show because the show carried the context, without the show, it would become merely decorative. Other works had great concepts but the execution was not quite polished. Although, that's from a fine arts point of view.

The review was, as always, an interesting mix of artworks. Very pleased the sculpture department did so well: tutor Brit Bunkley took the open award, Kate Walker got the student prize and both Tom Turner and I got highly commended awards. So that was pretty sweet.

I particularly liked the 'Artistic Block', the artist's name escapes me. But I thought that was a nice bit of conceputal humour. It was good to see lots of student work in there, and it was good that the space was limited this year: less work meant higher overall quality (IMHO).
Good that the ceremony was as short and sweet as they could make it, too.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Press releases + Photos :)

Photo by Andy Morley Hall

5 September 2009


In the Page Blackie Gallery last night, Intersect - a national network of young leaders in sustainability - awarded 22 year old Amelia Hitchcock for her artwork “New Zealand Pure”. The artwork is a ‘dunger’ of a fridge - stacked with old fashioned baby bottles filled with water collected from lowland rivers around the artist’s home town , Wanganui.

“..In a nation that proclaims to the world to be ‘clean and green,’ 90% of our lowland rivers are so polluted, you cannot gather food or swim in them” says Amelia.

Her artwork ‘New Zealand Pure’ is reflective of the state of our freshwater systems, a visual representation of the legacy that we are creating for our next

The Waiora art competition received entries from all over the country. During the judging process, the judges named the originally untitled work ‘Nipple Fridge’ to distinguish it from other entries, an obvious cheeky reference to the visual impact of the work. Judges included Megan Tamati-Quenelle from Te Papa, Artists Wayne Youle & Sophie Jerram, James Blackie from Page Blackie Gallery and Hayden Montgomerie from UNESCO.

Megan Hosking from Intersect says she is delighted with the result. “We wanted to provoke people into thinking about the issue of our freshwater, and that’s exactly what has happened. As a result, a whole lot of young people across New Zealand have been thinking deeply about water and its significance to our nation. Young New Zealand artists are the right people to work with this issue.” The work is intended to tour public sites, not unlike a roving coffee cart, dispensing a message to its surrounding public which Hosking hopes will enable even more people to come into contact with the issue. Future display sites will include a hospital, a theatre, as well as a university alongside the coke machine.

The art competition was sponsored this year by the New Zealand Commission for UNESCO.

National Youth Art Award Opening

The opening night of the National Youth Art Award on Friday 18 September announced 4 winners out of the 42 finalists. The judges, Kate Darrow and Allison Ewing, were thrilled with the quality of the work and said the initiative for a youth award was important. They predicted that the National Youth Art Award would continue to grow.

The overall winner, Ben Pearce, from Napier, entered a beautifully made wooden sculpture called 'Great-grandfather Clock'. Though it looks fragile and unbalanced (deliberately), it is suprisingly sturdy and well made with beautifully carved detail in native New Zealand woods. It is a first rate contemporary sculpture which is eminently collectible. The first prize was $2000 sponsored by Tompkins Wake Lawyers.

Danielle Appleton, from Hamilton, won with a blown glass contemporary sculpture which lights up. Amelia Hitchcock, from Wanganui, won with a professional study of a carved apple undergoing decay. Both of those works sold on the night. Category prizes won $300 cash. Convex Plastics sponsored the 3D prize.

Finally, Mikaere Gardiner won the recycled (found materials) award with a dynamic painting on video cassettes of superheroes superimposed on the silhouette of a cave man. In addition to the cash prize, he received a beautiful plaque sponsored by the Peter Sauerbier Trust, care of Remains to Be Scene. Ludwina Saubier of Remains to be Scene is Peter Saubier's daughter.

The place was packed to the walls with people coming in all evening. The music by The Trons, the robot band, fascinated young and old alike. Younger artists came with parents, grandparents and friends; older ones came parents, grandchildren, spouses and children. More than 200 people came through in the evening.

Overall the standard was high and the best was very high indeed. The overall winner is a finalist in the Wallace Award this year, and at least two are international exhibitors, one with a con-current exhibition in Spain and the other opening next week in Israel. Several are finalists in the National Youth Photography Award also announced on Friday night. The finalists range from talented high school students developing both skills and concepts to professional artists becoming established.

We have had a small stream of visitors in to see the exhibition since. Many of the visitors are young artists who are greatly impressed with the venue with it very high roof and window walls front and back. Some of our visitors are art lovers who are pleased with the quality of the art and others are off the street people who normally do not go to galleries and were attracted to the mid CBD location on Victoria Street.

The success of the National Youth Art Award means that Waikato Society of Arts will definitely be organising this award again.

Ucol's Press release here. 

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Yuken Teruya

Yuken Teruya is another artist who I feel my work relates to.

"Yuken Teruya manipulates everyday objects, transforming their meanings to reflect on contemporary society and culture. Cutting trees out of paper bags and cardboard toilet paper rolls, he creates meticulous and intricate art works, small and enchanting worlds, which relate to broader concerns. In each bag and roll, the shape of a tree is created without adding or removing anything, just by cutting out and folding the paper from the bag itself. Teruya’s works explore issues such as the growing consumerism of contemporary society, depleting natural resources and other problems associated with globalism, including the threat it poses to localized cultural traditions and identities.
" -Yuken Teruya homepage

His works are pretty damn stunning. He made a forest out of the toilet paper roll trees by placing them on rods of different lengths attached to the walls! It's awesome, but what I'm also really relating to is the photographical element to his sculptural practise. I think the photographic documentation of most of my works this year has really added to the impact of the objects, and I'm working on displaying both photograph and object together for my end of year show.

Nele Azevedo

Brazillian Artist Nele Azevedo has been making little ice men since 2005. Xtiaan told me about this about a month ago, and but couldn't remember the name of the artist.
The above photos came from an installtion in Berlin Square, and were used to highlight climate change. Interestingly, Azevedo had no initial interest in the environmental side of the work. When asked in an interview on if she was a climate change activist she replied,

"No. I'm an artist, master of visual arts from the University of Sao Paulo (UNESP). This work was conceived as a critical view of the official historical monuments. As the reading and interpretation of an art piece is open, I'm glad it can also speak of urgent matters that threaten our existence on this planet."

Well that's interesting, I know what that's like. I know that I'm creating work that speaks to global environmental issues, but I'm an artist first and formost.... is a pretty sweet site though, and will be duely added to the links bar.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Waikato National Youth Award 2009

Went to Hamilton for the National Youth Awards last night, I was one of 42 finalists. There was a wide range of entries, in lots of different media, which was nice to see. There was a good selection of artists from the earliest begginnings at the youngest age (15), right through to the established ones who were closer to the cut off age (27).

I was really pleased my One Bad Apple was right by the entrance, and will be viewed even when the gallery is closed. Having perused the other entries, I'd made up my mind that Ben Pearce's
Great Grandfather Clock was the clearly the overall winner. But it was nice to hear people saying that it was between my piece and his. Excitement in the first ten minutes, my print SOLD! was the first to get a red sticker. Joy!

Award speeches were short and sweet, I picked the winner, and rightly so, but was chuffed to get the best 2D prize. :)

The 'robot band' The Trons was quite impressive, and provided nice aural wallpaper. Also managed to nip down to the opening of Lizzy's gallery , Aesthete, to catch up with her.

Been down the markets this morning with 3rd year crew, we made about $500 towards our end of year show, so that was pretty damn sweet :D A good start to the weekend.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


Placing my art in contemporary/art historical context:
A friend of mine, Em, suggested I look up Sam Taylor Wood after seeing my apple print. She hasn't seen the video yet, but these videos, and the text by Ossian Ward are really awesomely relevant to my work. Especially my Opposite of Green Video which I'm working on for pattillo.

"Two earlier films, Still Life of 2001 and A Little Death of 2002, similarly employ the distortion of time – except by speeding it up rather than by stopping it – in order to reveal the extant drama in the banality of the everyday. They also draw on the history of art, specifically from still life painting, long considered the lowliest and most insignificant among subjects for art. The camera records the rotting and putrefaction of, in the first instance, an arrangement of fruit in a bowl, and in the second, a freshly hung hare, both table settings commonly depicted in traditional still life painting. While the 17th-century Dutch or Spanish still life painters captured a peach at its moment of perfect ripeness or a flower in full bloom, Taylor-Wood’s films brings this ordinary genre of foodstuff to life, albeit through the very process of its degeneration. In a further irony, the whole image is magically renewed once the video loops back to the beginning, enacting an “eternal return”, as Nietzsche would have it, denying “Time’s thievish progress to eternity” as Shakespeare would have preferred it." - Ossian Ward, White Cube - Sam Taylor Wood
Got into the Waikato Youth Art Awards Finals :) Now to get the work to Hamilton, it might be too long to courier... Sadface.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


The launch of my New Zealand Pure art work is this Friday. I'm anxious, I have to give a speech.
Had a critique today. Everyone loved my Venus for the 21st Century lionel suggested making sure I can quote off the top of my head artists that have been influencial.
I'm gonna have to do a lot of printing etc in the holidays. I'm just too tired to do it now. I also printed out my portfolio for Friday, and wrote my statement etc.
Got my application for the Waikato Youth Art Awards sent off, and they recieved it in time which was also good. Just waiting to hear if I got in or not now, although am a little worried as the A4 format required for judging does not really do a 22x150cm print any justice at all, and cutting it in half is kind of distracting, sadly.
Had a serious migraine Monday/Tuesday, that is lingering today, hoping I'll be sweet for Friday.
Not much else to say, no time for research this week.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Don't fuck with the planet, it's where I keep all my stuff...

"Scientists have confirmed that there are millions of tonnes of plastic floating in an area of ocean known as the North Pacific Gyre....currents have carried millions of tonnes of rubbish into the centre of the gyre, which now covers an area estimated to be larger than the US state of Texas."
This upsets me! no end. Seriously, we're f**king the planet! Ah well, I have heaps of plastic baby bottles, so maybe I can make something with them which represents my disgust more eloquently than words...

this is an installation which I made last year: 'Don't fuck with the planet, it's where I keep all my stuff!' (below) which was about air quality pollution... and our temporary cover measures... and that was pretty well a turning point for my work, which has been on an environmental bent ever since...

I'm having a frustrating day, where it feels like there is little I can do. I know, changing myself and my immediate circle is the best I can do...
but some days even that seems too hard, and like all humans, I get wrapped up in my own little world; having a cry about my fucked up hair cut (I got 'jackassed'... a large strip of no hair, so I'm now down to a grade one all over again...) seemed more immediate yesterday than the effect my existance has on the natural environment. I feel guilty about it, but that's the way life is sometimes. I have to continually remind myself that if I'm doing my best, I can't ask anymore of myself.

In other news...
Green Peace is using ice sculptures too... must be something in that eh? I have something somewhat like this planned for Wanganui, although, not on such a massive scale, and also to do with the RIVER as much as the global warming.. interesting.

One hundred days before governments meet in Copenhagen to decide what they will do to stop climate change.
One billion men, women and children in Asia facing drought from climate change.
Time is running out.
We need that climate summit to take fair and effective action to stop climate change, or like these ice children, our futures will melt away.
These melting statues represent the melting glaciers in the Greater Himalayan region which are melting faster than ever before because of climate change.And without these glaciers more than one billion people will go thirsty.Western scientists and Chinese scientists agree on the accelerated melting.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

HOW COOL IS THIS? pretty damn cool if you ask me, new technology meets old masterpieces and makes them Interactive. So cool that my S.O wants to go to Beijing to see it!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Good on em!
Maybe we should do something like that here...

Weathering the Perfect Storm? What can I do?

Yeah, I've been on BBC's Science/Environment page again. At least they're reporting something, not many other media groups even bother. I'm well aware of the fact that all media releases are biased in one way or another, but the scientific community has been unanimous in telling us, "you're fucking the planet," for years!

"The UK's chief scientist John Beddington has warned that by 2030 the rising global population will create a 'perfect storm' of food, energy and water shortages - unless the world changes its ways.

But despite virtually unanimous academic opinion, half of us still believe science is divided on whether mankind's activities contribute to climate change, and more than a quarter of us don't think our individual behaviour makes any difference to the environmental crisis."

These few articles have got me wondering, just how we're going to survive cause it's one thing to talk about changing lifestyles and habits, it's another thing to actually do it. I've been trying to get my family into a meat+dairy free day a week, but resistance to change from the carnivorous males of the pride is fierce. Especially from the alpha male, who is passive-aggressively stuck in his ways. Maybe I need to get him a 'smart meter' so he can measure what he's saving on electricity/energy if he changes things. But even the suggestion that we use my partner Becca's new model Fridge instead of our ten-year-old-with-leaky-seals one in the kitchen have been met with stubborn resistance.

The more I read about the state of the planet, and the more I discuss it with those that are working in Ecology or Conservation, the more I want to be able to make a difference. This is the driving force behind my art work at the moment. Science is so vital to our existence, but the communication between scientific communities and the rest of the world is often not as effective as it needs to be.

I think if more artists can push into making art 'environmentally' or making art which is conceptually charged about important climate/political issues, people will get a higher dose of exposure to the same message. We're living in a fundamentally visual culture, people have shorter attention spans due to television and new media, so why not show them images/artworks that challenge them to think about the state of things, which might prompt them into doing their own reading on the subject, which may inspire change.

I know there's a lot of maybes and mights, but I think sensationalism. globalisation and the media have made people feel like the problems are so huge, that they can't actually do anything about them. This goes for so many things.

I remember as a child watching Save the Children Fund adverts showing hundreds of children that were starving, these adverts were overwhelming, the poverty and sickness such huge things that it felt inaccessible. But when they changed to having the story of a single child, it became accessible, and more people felt like there was something they could do. This is the kind of model that needs to be applied to climate change.

Yoko Ono was saying on twitter the other day, that everyone should try and do 'Meat free Mondays' because the impact of that alone on the level of methane etc. released into the environment. It was good to know I'm not the only one trying to encourage that. And I'm sure she has a lot more clout than I do! It's little things like this that everyone needs to start doing. Even remember to turn the lights off. Scientists are already calling this the age of waste! That's not a name I want to be branded with.

I was speaking to Marty Vreede about my Waiora piece the other day, and my concern for the fresh water systems in this country. He told me that he's been saying to people for years that the wars in 100years time are going to be over water, and as such, NZ is in deep trouble - there is huge rainfall on the West Coast of the South Island, war could come here.

Surely it's better to act now than reach times where things like that, and the predicted food, energy and water shortage of 2030 which is being branded 'Perfect Storm'.

From my point of view, I've got reason to fight for a better future that I never really had before. After years of depression and uncertainty about whether I'd be around much longer, I've come to a place where I'm very settled, grounded, and sure of what I'm doing with my life. A lot of that is down to meeting my partner Becca.

The impact that having her in my life has been profound. The love and support she gives me allow me the freedom to pursue anything, secure in the knowledge that even if it doesnt all go to plan, I'll still have stability.

The exposure I've had through her, and her passion for Ecology, to the academic/scientific community in Massey's Ecology department has really influenced my work. It has given me artistic direction for this year and probably the foreseeable future.

Having the stability to plan a future with her has allowed me to push my work in ways that I may not have had the courage to otherwise. It's something that I can not thank her enough for. But the great part about our relationship is that she's found similar inspiration in my passion for Art, and my pushing through to forge my career. It does feel like together we can make changes. Together we've found a future that's worth fighting for, for us and our children...

BTW if you missed it 60minutes on NZ's Freshwater.

Monday, August 24, 2009

All reading, no comments been keeping me entertained this morning. I don't have many other gems to add. I'm writing an essay comparing the 'Environmental Artists' Andy Goldsworthy and Olafur Eliasson for public art. So more on that later.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

I go where the party takes me...

Well, sometimes I do. Was in Palmy on Saturday night, so decided to drop into the opening for I go where the party takes me photo exhibition at thermostat gallery. We didn't have much time, as we had an appointment at 18:00 with Mr.B, but we went in at 17:30, so got a good half hour to peruse the work and chat with others there. Becca and I both really liked Leigh Mitchell Anyon's work, I thought the circular format worked really well with the subject. The video piece was fun, because I knew a lot of the people in it, but I'm not sure I would have liked it as much if they were unfamiliar faces. It was good to see student work getting out there, and good to see that there was a fair few people that had travelled over to Palmy to see it. Was a shame we couldn't stay longer, but there's always other times...

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


So the launch of my Waiora work is going to be on September 4th at the Page Blackie Gallery in Wellington :D
Exciting Much?

Monday, August 17, 2009

60 Minutes on NZ's freshwater systems

Dr Mike Joy was on 60 minutes tonight explaining in layman's terms that we're screwing our freshwater systems. His seminar at Massey was a major factor in my Waiora entry, and hopefully, if as many people as possible keep pushing the message, it'll get out there and positive things will start to happen!

"Sorry mate. Some pants or something. Thank you."

So, (if you're Marc Quinn*), you can put a naked statue of a pregnant woman with physical disabilities on the fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square. (I know, I was there when it was put up :) ). But if you're Joe Public, taking part in Antony Gormleys One&Other** project you are not allowed to be naked, because that's just indecent exposure... sorry what?!
Art has always contained nudity, what's the big deal, it's not like he was having a wank, although that's ok/art if you're Vito Acconci! Each of the 2400 people that get to stand on the plinth for an hour were supposed to be able to have their say about whatever they want, if you're a nudist, why should you be banned? Ah well, negative publicity is better than no publicity right?

*Speaking of Marc Quinn, I've been looking at his Bloodhead presentation and thinking about my Venus work, and whether or not I'll use refrigeration or dry ice... leaning toward dry ice I think..

**the one&other website has a livestreaming video, and when I was searching round this today there was a young chap playing his drum kit on the plinth, and he was pretty damn good! Good to hear the public getting behind him too... yay performance art!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

As loathed as I am, group instructed me to set up a twitter for our exhibition: so here it is.
We're having an exhibition for studio dissertation, and we're looking for as many opinions/comments as possible! They will be exhibited :) You know you want to!!!

FAD newsletter and early morning ramblings.

So I subscribe to the FAD newsletter, which sends me a daily update of random things going on in the art world. This morning there was a video interview with D*Face about street art, and a link about Antony Gormely (who I've mentioned before) whose Domain Fields is at The Garage Space for Contemporary Culture in Moscow.It is reportedly "a huge installation of 287 sculptures made from the body moulds of 200 volunteers." Gormley loves his multiples! I really like the ephemeral quality of this work. The space in and around the figures, but how long did this take to make? and how many assistants!?
The mind boggles.

But perhaps more importantly, the FAD post about Gormley linked back to Art Observed, which has news about contemporary and modern art exhibitions, mostly based in New York... it seems pretty similar to Daily Serving well, at least in format, and both can be found in my links bar as well.

I also found on my meanderings (on a Russian Art News site) reference to a recently discovered Venus figure in Germany.
This "Venus" - Venus of Hohle Fel-is reportedly 35000 years old. As with most of the other ancient 'Venus' figurines that have been found, the most emphasised areas are the breasts and genitalia, and the ring carved above its shoulders suggests it was worn as a pendant.

I've been researching the Venus figurines for quite a while now, and have found many conflicting view points as to what they were for. One Dr has even suggested they were carved in the shape of psychedelic mushrooms. Others have suggested they were self portraits, although I'm not sure how much clout this argument has, because even if you're looking down at your own body, you know what other women look like!

The most realistic options in my opinion, are either the 'earth mother/goddess' theories - where the land was looked on as a plentiful 'mother' and worshiped as such, or as a fertility symbol, why else would you emphasise the breasts/stomach/genitalia? It's hard to discount or agree with any theory though, because the best we have are guesses, and we can't but help project our modern day perspective onto things from the past.

Having said that, from what research/archeology has shown us, the climate at the time of the creation of these figurines was pretty harsh, and human technology was still evolving,
people of that time would have been living on the edge - so if they had women as large as that, it meant that they'd had plentiful food for quite some time.

Although, a friend recently pointed out, it may have just been a depiction of a particular woman by someone who was fond of her, I'm not sure they would have found so many with similar features if that was the case.

This paper, has interesting analysis of the Willendorf Venus, and ponders whether it was carved by a male or female. (The Willendorf Venus is perhaps the most universally recognised of all the Venus figurines, and it's the one I'm using in a piece currently.)

Whatever the Venus figurines were used for then, in a modern context, they come to mean something else entirely. Obesity of the developed world, greed, capitalism, the time of waste...dying from hunger,

and dying from hunger....

makes mapping my research seem pretty insignificant! Some how justifying my existence by getting an education and making artwork that speaks to the current global instability, most days I feel like it's a worthwhile thing to do. Not every day though. And what can I possibly know, what perspective can I bring from my middle-class upbringing, that can change the perspective of those around me?

when the media sensationalises things, and you feel like you're helpless to do anything, I think the only thing you can do is change yourself, and those in your immediate circle if you can. We've been encouraging recycling and turning things off at wall at my house, it's not much, but it's a start. I've been trying to get one 'vegetarian' night a week, but separating the men from their meat is quite tricky!

We were told recently to make art that speaks to other things, not just self referential art. I'm not sure where my Venus will sit in that, it speaks to lots of things, but it requires knowledge of the Venus figurines... so is it self referential?

I remember my Mother knew about the Willendorf Venus, and she's my Joe-Public meter: if she gets it, then most people will be able to relate to it on some level, if she goes "huh?" I'm pitching too high, and it's too much of an 'in-joke' for the art institution. So hopefully, it'll sit right.

The longer I wait to do this waiora thing the less confident I am in the art piece. I mean, the concept is ok. I just feel like.. it could have been more, maybe.
Ah well. Moving on to better things. (end ramble)

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Bill Culbert Opening @ the Sarjeant Gallery

In the speeches they spoke about this piece. Which I really like. I think it's a beautiful photograph, and there's a subtlety about it which appeals to me.

A web search for Bill Culbert + light sculptures produces MANY hits, and lots of them are like this one, simple, yet very effective.

So it was exciting to be going to a Bill Culbert exhibition opening.

From outside the dome, looking in, from each perspective, the Wanganui 180Degrees installation is like this, the seemingly simple structure of lights, composed perfectly to change your perception of the space. Inside the dome, it was another story. I felt like I was being patronised as a viewer in a local gallery. Here's photos of your place, it's specific to you, you can relate to it. I related to it without the photos! and I'm sure most people would. It just felt like over kill. I didn't really respond to any of them, particularly the vista of Wanganui. I know they were in pairs, and hung on their sides, but it just didn't do it for me. I wanted to like it, to be wowed. I know that I wasn't the only one there who felt the same way; spoke to a few people that also made similar comments.

It was an interesting experience though, there were not many students, mostly the Art-elite of Wanganui and surrounding regions, which made for a more formal environment than I'm used to at openings. All in all, only slightly anticlimatical.

Monday, August 10, 2009

This site is genius. Public Art in the UK and internationally, with lots of resources, links and pictures!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009


"Ron English’s iconic Ronald McDonald inspired character gets the X-Ray treatment with the help of Japan’s Secret Base. The translucent orange exterior figure houses a glow in the dark inner skeleton and comes packaged in a Popaganda-labeled french fry box. I guess maybe he’s just big-boned?"

Monday, August 3, 2009

Class notes: Curatorial Process

Guest Speaker: Peter Ireland
  • Practising Artist since 1968
  • self taught
  • 1981-now 46 solo shows, 85 group shows approx.
  • work in lots of collections
  • has been freelance curating since 1974
  • photography writer/curator
  • published in various journals and magazines
  • currently in Te Papa Catalogue
  • writing book 'Loaded shots'
  • chooses to keep a low profile, however can be found on the web here, and here, and here.
Two Parts: Theoretical/Philosophical and Practical.

Past two decades has seen artists increasingly more involved in the curatorial process, fulltime artists have to curate, as well as practise, these days.
Art practise feeds curatorial practise which feeds the art practise.

Starting point/Hub:


The IDEA is very important.

Who is the show for? For you?
For your mates?
For arts professionals?
For the wider public?

Joe Public - someone from a small town with no art background needs to be considered as well as those from within the art world.

To be a successful exhibition it must be engaging.

If you show outside/above just "for you" it will show a level of unknow, where you will learn new things.Art is about what you don't know.

Arts Professionals - exhibitions aimed purely at this group often flop because they have no relations to Joe Public. Try not to exclude any viewers.

Modernism was about authenticity and originality, postmodernism is questioning those concepts.

Art - Art is either about a lot of things, or just about other art. 80% of contemporary art is only about other art. The 20% of contemporary art that is about a lot of things is the art that will most probably survive its own period.

Overly self referential art is generally not as successful.

Curator - Responsible for the idea - which should provoke thought in Art Professionals, whilst engaging Joe Public.

Don't get trapped in the institution.

Think rigorously, stay mentally alert, think outside the square!

There are different levels of engagement, theory is a galaxy of ideas, try to focus on one idea.

Theory- intellectualism - connotations.

Don't have to impress everyone/anyone. The artist's job is making good art.


Fiona Hall | Australia b.1953 | Medicine bundle for the non-born child (detail) 1993–94 | Aluminium, rubber, plastic Layette comprising matinee jacket: 27.5 x 47.5 x 10cm, bootees: 7 x 5 x 8.5cm and bonnet: 13 x 13 x 6cm; rattle: 32 x 8.5 x 6cm; six-pack of baby bottles: 17 x 20 x 13cm | Purchased 2000. Queensland Art Gallery Foundation Grant | Collection: Queensland Art Gallery
Ai Weiwei: Han Dynasty Urn with Coca-Cola Logo, 1995; clay and paint; 12 x 12 x 12 in.; Sigg Collection.

Robert Rauschenberg (American, 1925-2008). Coca Cola Plan, 1958. Combine painting. 68 x 64 x 14 cm. (26 3/4 x 25 1/4 x 5 1/2 in.). The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, The Panza Collection.
Welcome to the World Famous Brand, the Luo Brothers, 2007
Also see Sharmila Shamant's work here.
So the coca-cola icon is by no means a stranger to contemporary art.
And it's not always being satirised, sometimes it's about recycling.
Although, that particular piece and the four related landmark sculptures, which, even I have to admit are pretty cool, were commissioned by coca-cola.. *twitch*
Coca-cola is a pet hate for me at the moment, though it is fairly hypocritical, because occasionally I still drink the stuff. What irrates me about it, however, is that it is cheaper than milk and bottled water! (not that we should be selling bottled water, but that's another issue/blog entirely...**) And with the developed world getting increasingly fatter... well.. you can see where I'm going with this.
It's not just the product, it's the way the corporation works, and its lack of ethics, particularly in developing countries. But it is also, in a sad way, symbolic of our times...

**Water is something we have a fundamental right to, and we shouldnt be charged almost 1000 times more for a bottle of the stuff than for tap water, but we shouldnt be exporting it at all. Production of the bottles costs more water than they hold, about 4 litres, and fucks the planet.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Monday, July 27, 2009

Radical Nature | Barbican 2009 from RSA Arts & Ecology on Vimeo.

RSA Arts AND Ecology... oh why don't I still live in England.

There is no PLANet B!!!!

Will we EVER learn? This humorous yet serious opinion by Simpsons writer George Meyer was posted in 2006!

More and more research is being done into the negative effects of humans on the environment, and papers have been published since the 70's saying we're messing it up, but we're still not listening.
BBC's latest on how the artic might not be melting because of global warming caused by carbon emissions, just another example of media brainwashing making it 'ok' to continue F*ckin the planet!

Street Art!

Following on from previous post..
have a couple of awesome Street Art Links :)
Wooster Collective
Invisible made Visible: London Street Art

Little People!

This guy puts tiny little people that he's painted all over london! Very cool!
Check it out!!

Post Public Art Lecture

Am very glad I switched from Life Drawing to Public Art. Spoke to Rita about it the other day, and she agreed that it was a good move for me too, so that's sweet as.
First Public art class was with Andrea Gardner, who is Brit Bunkley's partner - Brit is our usual sculpture tutor, but he was still in the states.

Andrea put together a slide show of Public artists, which was brilliant; she had a lot of information about each particular work as well as information about the artists themselves. She also briefly discussed her own practise, and showed us an image of a public art piece she had created whilst still in the states.

The list of artists she gave us was a very good starting point from which to delve into public art.
One artist which I had heard of but hadn't really researched before was Francis Alys - The piece which particularly interested me was his Paradox of Praxis (Below) 1997.

This piece resonates for me because of it's temporary nature and the documentation of its destruction, which relates back to my apples and forward to another project I have in mind. It is also has a poetic quality which I like.

"This process can also operate on the narratives of art history, not to mention those of the art world. Paradox of Praxis, 1997, a piece in which I pushed a large block of ice through the streets of Mexico City until it melted into a puddle of water, was a settling of accounts with Minimalist sculpture. Sometimes, to make something, is really to make nothing; and paradoxically, sometimes to make nothing is to make something." -A thousand words: Francis Alys talks about When Faith Moves Mountains - Brief Article Art forum 2002.

It was good to read his perspective on his own work, he seems to think a lot about what he's doing and why, and articulates his concepts eloquently.

Paradox of Praxis is showing currently in a group show, The Quick and the Dead at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. He's also currently showing at the National Portrait Gallery, London (one of my favourite places when I lived in London). His installation there, Fabiola , is a collection of copies/versions of a nineteenth century portrait of a fourth century Christian Saint which Alys has accumulated.I think it's a very interesting exploration of a well known icon and of how something becomes an icon. As an installation, the reds in the portraits work very well against the turquoise wall and it would be interesting to visit in person, to really study the differences and similarities between each image.

More of Alys's works can be found here.

Another series of work that stood out was Anthony Gormley's Field.

Anthony Gormley, Field for the British Isles 1993 Terracotta variable size, approx 40,000 elements, each 8-26 cm tall

I really like the way you can see each person's hand in this work.. and the way it's very much of the land that it came from.
I don't really like his Angel of the North sculpture, which was also shown, but I do like some of his more recent stuff, which can be found here.
Andrea also mentioned Charles Simonds, whose name my friend Xtiaan has been trying to remember for months to give to me. He used to make teeny tiny dwellings in walls, more about his work and other miniature things can be found here.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Meeting with Lorraine Webb

Chaco Kato -
Philosophy of cuttlefish
fishing line, discarded cable codes, installation scene for 2020?(organized project by Ash Keating), variable dimension, 2008
Copyright © 2005-2009 chaco kato All Rights Reserved.
Had a critique with Lorraine yesterday, at my request: she said it was 'FUN' to have a break from paper work. At any rate, she flicked me some artists to look at - relating to my Apple Series and my current environmental concern 'angst'.

She recommended a friend of hers: Chaco Kato, who creates environmental work and works with the Slow Art Movement principles. She also works with recycled materials - some found round her own home, others re-appropriated from landfill.

This kind of work really appeals to me, in both aesthetic and principal.

So I googled environmental + 'slow art movement'... and it appears it's been around for a while!

According to this article/manifesto.. the 'slow movement' began in the 1960's as a reaction to consumerism. Basically - “If it is worth doing well, it is worth doing slow.” (-May West)

I also found this list (2009!) of terms on my search, at, which is very helpful!

I feel like this relates a lot to my apple series, and I wish I'd found it sooner. The environmental aspect of Kato's work also reflects issues that are concerning me. Since spending all the time with Becca up at Massey in the Ecology department, it's really become something at the forefront of my consciousness.

This is good, because I work better when I look at 'big picture' things. I'm beginning to realiseb this, and Lorraine articulated it nicely for me. She also said my work is becomming more refined, which is good news.

She also suggested I look at Roni Horn, in particular, her work in Iceland (in relation to idea alluded to in my previous post), Iceland, how fitting!
Roni Horn - Library of Water (water taken from different glaciers)
On some level her work relates back to what I'm doing for Waiora, and the reseach about the quality of New Zealand's freshwater systems that was introduced to me by Dr Mike Joy at an ecology group seminar.

Searches for Roni Horn also lead me to find which references her several times.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

New Ideas a-brewin'

So I have an idea, that I want to pursue. Of course, the specifics of new ideas are something you keep quiet about until you've made the art work! Having said that...
this site has some relevance...

Of course first year sculpture wouldn't have been first year sculpture without our

Andy Goldsworthy - Icicle Star

His style isn't what I'm after.. but it's a starting point. The temporary, ephemeral nature of his sculptures is also something that I find appealing. There's a poetry in it, nature is allowed to follow its course, even though this means the destruction of the work.

What I have in mind is something a bit more politically charged and related to the work I'm creating for Waiora/Intersect*

Mark Jenkins - Storker Project
It's also related on a completely different level to the work of Mark Jenkins**, which I love! It's so playful and cute without being 'cutesy' on a kitsch level.
Anyway, that'll do for now at least.

*Waiora art competition entry is a display fridge filled with baby bottles full of dirty water.
**Mark Jenkins is an artists I've known about for ages, and was linked to through a friend who found his page and thought of me.

Studio Dissertation: Getting my head round the Art World.

Welcome to the institution:

Studio Dissertation 81.332 2009
Quay School of the Arts
Tutor: Matt Couper

ARTWORLD WATCHING- WORKBOOK due: 2nd November 2009

So, an Art Journal, documenting my research/reading. Due to the limited availability of print credits,(which in turn is, apparently, due to the recession), and allowing for the meandering nature of my Internet excursions, I will be creating a virtual Journal to compliment/supplement my physical visual diary.

This will also become a way for me to keep all the interesting websites that I have found in one easy to access place, rather than constantly emailing myself the links, then forgetting what they're for.