What’s Hot? Our Spring Picks
Textile art has been having a moment for a few years now, and I’m just excited that my home city is embracing it with its big dairy farmer arms, with Alice Alva and Wesley John Fourie’s exhibition into the centre of love with you at Never Project Space in Kirikiroa, Hamilton.
“Both art practices explore cloth as a blank canvas, to translate information around memory, place, and identity, and ornamentation. Using textile as a means to inform their audience, this exhibition guides the viewer through two vastly different bodies of work, in response to the same themes of love, memory, and intimacy through a shared dialogue with their medium.” Sounds dreamy and soft, and reminds me of my nana’s security blanket that was imbued with magical properties, warming the lucky person (us grandchildren used to fight over it) with a fuzzy love, instantly. – Faith Wilson
The Mayfair Art Fair is honestly the hottest thing that’s happening in contemporary art rn. It’s a new and dynamic alternative art fair presenting emerging and unrepresented artists from Aotearoa and the Pacific. Established this year by Ophelia King, Becky Hemus, Eleanor Woodhouse and Nina Lloyd, they’ve opted to present an online showcase, and have gone 1000 kilometres above the rest of NZ’s art offerings by animating a gorgeous, digitally rendered online cube-mansion whose real life equivalent would have been designed by a conceptual architect collecting pay checks from the most conceptual celebs (aka Gwyneth Paltrow). It’s filled with different digital galleries in a revolving display, like a little advent calendar with new treats each week. There’s also been live events on their socials such as Micheal McCabe’s art quiz. I loved the Tyson Campbell x George Watson collab, especially Jenny Takahashi Palmer’s collages for Wet Green and reading accompanying pieces of writing such as Ashleigh Taupaki on the work of Wai Ching Chan. – Vanessa Crofskey
I don’t think I ever get tired of looking at people’s faces. I love the chance to stare, so a book of portraits is the ultimate opportunity to do so without offending or making anyone uncomfortable. There’s also something sheepishly reassuring to see faces of our greatest artists being overwhelmingly ordinary – beautiful, weird and everything in between.
Marti Friedlander: Portrait of the Artists is the latest large-format art title from Auckland University Press. Taken over decades, the photographs vary in style, predominantly black and white but a few in colour; some are enlarged beyond their optimal quality, but as a documentation of the people who have shaped our collective understanding of art, many of whom are no longer with us, it’s a beautiful book to sit with. Brief quotes from Friedlander about her personal encounters with some of the artists are enhanced by short biographies by Leonard Bell.
I was particularly moved by the portraits of Philip Clairmont. In many ways, the world of Clairmont and his contemporaries belongs (literally) in another century. But in one picture, taken in 1978 a few years before Clairmont’s suicide, the colours of the paint, clutter and clothes are so vivid it could be yesterday. – Hannah Newport-Watson
Under the rising of the Matariki star cluster, Return of the Dawn, an exhibition showcasing artwork by men from the Northland Region Corrections Facility (NRCF) opened at Quest Artspace in Whangārei. Curated by local artist Leonard Muruparenga, the contributors ranged from 18 to 80 years and beginners to professionals, an equalising artistic experience. The colourful and striking collection of artwork drawn from Matariki-inspired themes of growth, change and remembrance offset their display in a stark, white and linear corridor off busy Bank Street in the CBD. This unique exhibition with its message of “Arts For All” is one worth celebrating. - Ataria Sharman
AUP New Poets 7 released mid-August is the latest in the series by Auckland University Press, which brings together 3 exciting new poets – this time, Rhys Feeney, Ria Masae and Claudia Jardine. I’m not usually a big reader of poetry but I’ve found my reading habits change dramatically during lockdown. As we entered into Level 3 for the second time here in Auckland I tucked in bed and indulged. While all of the poetry was great, the words by Ria Masae absolutely floored me. I mean, read this:
Yes, there is a Vā between my feet
Where I have bled the blasphemy of unwanted men
Then flooded red tsunami for my offspring
Following in a tradition of strong feminist Pacific poets, Masae’s voice is strong, unapologetic and a sheer breath of fresh air. – Lana Lopesi
In a similar vein, looking forward to the month ahead, I am excited to be out of Level 3 lockdown and able to see art again in real life, but I am especially looking forward to the release of Tusiata Avia’s next poetry collection The Savage Coloniser Book, dubbed as “a personal and political reckoning” which rises in power by holding history accountable. Silo theatre’s production of Avia’s Wild Dogs Under my Skirt is still one of the most transformative art moments I’ve had. Avia’s word are unlike many I’ve come across, she cuts through to the pit of my stomach and leaves me there for climb my way out. Can’t wait. – LL
Tucked in the back of a café was the event Poets at Kāri Āhua. What else to do on a rainy day than sit perched on an upcycled beer crate, listening to the recitations of local poets? A highlight was the reading of Holy Shit I Am More Sexually Frustrated Than I Was Before by Brett Matthew Ruys. Brett orchestrated his performance in conversation with a pseudo-counsellor – his UE boom – to perform this Disney-worthy ballad on sexual frustration. – Ataria Sharman
As part of her Master’s degree, zine-maker Helen Yeung has created the online @asianfeministproject canvassing different women from the vast diaspora around topics such as identity, home, representation and family. I’ve loved reading them, as writers and artists respond to different prompts on inspirational historical feminist figures to a collection of objects from their home. A way of creating new digital archives that are so nourishing to read and explore. – VC
Prepare to be absolutely floored by a new video from KŌTIRO (Ana Chaya Scotney) released just yesterday. Driven by looping vocal harmonies that will drive you crazy with how good they are, the song breaks into a percussive hip hop mode, playing with layers of samples and sounds. The video itself is a work of art, a perfect three-minute microcosm of Ana’s performance magnetism. Check out Ana’s kōrero on Kuini Qontrol and look out for a Loose Canon by Ana here on PP very soon. We are beyond excited for the rest of the EP HD Multinational due to be released in summer via Jessicoco Hansell’s Kuini Qontrol Records x Sonorous Circle. – HNW
By far the musical highlight of my first lockdown was the April release of ‘Oils And Perfume’, a bouncy new single by the Glass Vaults from their forthcoming album, Sounds That Sound Like Music. That song did me an enormous favour by reminding me that just because you’re stuck at home, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take every opportunity to bop around joyfully. Seems fitting that apparently the song was inspired by dance floor classic ‘The Macarena’. Last month they followed-up with the release of a second single, ‘Flat White Boy’, a more mellow but nevertheless catchy track with a strong funk influence. Like a good-looking person not afraid to try a new haircut, the band has always evolved their sound since the dreamy, echo-y synth of their debut EP Glass in 2010. Fingers crossed for a safe return to live touring in the months ahead, we could all do with a dance. – HNW
Staring at Layplan’s instagram and HARD regretting not buying one of their sweaters a month ago when I was ballin’ because now they’re sold out. But also excited because the money I would have spent on that can go towards my frock-fund as their dresses are out of this world beautiful, luxurious, and most importantly sisters: made by two genius goddesses of the Moana. I literally go onto their ig page at least once a day dreaming about my summer to be - eating strawberries in the sun and drinking a Waikato stubby while sitting on an old crate in my backyard, adorned in a Lucia. – FW
I think we can all agree it’s been a weird time for theatre and performing arts. Even outside of Auckland, large shows such as the Royal New Zealand Ballet’s Venus Rising had to make the devastating but necessary call to cancel seasons. Wellingtonians have been lucky in other respects, with PSA: Election 2020 at Circa extended for 5 extra shows due to demand (Dr Ashley Bloomfield’s ringing endorsement might have helped). But looking ahead, the Basement Theatre has just announced a bangin’ programme of comedy, theatre and dance once they re-open on 22 September. To play it safe, they are currently offering a maximum of 40 seats in case Level 2 restrictions remain; more seats will go on sale when Level 1 arrives. Ka pai.
Feature image: Alice Alva, Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A man after midnight) (2020). Cotton and silk thread, sequins, found plastic, glass and wood beads on found printed curtain. Photo courtesy Never Project Space.