Sorry if my blogging seems to have been rather
intermittent lately. A thick fog comes over me
sometimes I know, still it can’t have been too often because
in the next few days I will reach my 700th entry
so I won’t chastise myself too much.

Meanwhile, here I am last Saturday, at
the Govett-Brewster’s 40 birthday.

Thank you Paul for the photo.

Bad Language

I’m in New Plymouth briefly, tomorrow I return to Central Otago. Yesterday and today I visited the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery. For those of my site visitors who do not live in New Zealand this is an art museum which prides itself on being the leading contemporary art gallery in the country.

I have not made any art political postings for almost a year. The last time was when I criticised the quality and cost of Prospect, an exhibition at the City Gallery in Wellington. I was rather intemperate and sparks flew and I was taken off their mailing list.

I admire a paragraph in an Elizabeth Knox novel which says something like ‘clarity in language is a form of politeness.’ I might not have this quote exactly right but I have the sense of it.

Here is an excerpt from a wall panel at the Govett-Brewster. I do not want to say which artist it is describing, that is irrelevant. This is curatorism. I wish that curators didn’t think that they have to write like this.

For this visionary landscape ……. has drawn on the hallucinatory works of sixteenth-century figurative painters Hieronymous Bosch and Pieter Bruegel, countercultural rhetoric, utopian futurism and the fantasies of survivalists, millenarians and social exiles. Combining aspects of the familiar, antique and ultramodern, the figures model the faithfulness of spiritual and alternative lifestyles yet also allude to the futility and compromise inherent to dreams ….. suggests a complex of ideas about time, hope, social and evolutionary change.

Southern Studies

Today I was in Invercargill, at the Southland Museum & Art Gallery.
It was quite a big moment for me because I have an exhibition of 31 photos there at present. I hadn’t seen the show before and there was no opening. The show began on Jan 8th and is on until March 2nd.

I’ve had minimal contact with the gallery lately, largely because the four staff members who I usually dealt with have all recently left, nothing to do with me I hasten to add. I hadn’t seen any installation shots so I was rather apprehensive when I walked in. In fact I had to take a friend. The last time I saw the show was when it was laid out on the floor of my New Plymouth studio.

The room had a number of visitors who seemed to be quite absorbed in looking at the photos which I took to be a good sign however I was worried that I would overhear some derogatory remarks so I had to force myself to stay as long as I did. I don’t find it easy being so exposed to the public, in that way I’m in the wrong job.

Eventually I did lose my nerve and just before bolting I grabbed this image as quickly as I could before I got out of there. Unfortunately I must, in my haste, have moved the camera. I can see camera shake.

I’d love to be able to direct you to their website but it is only half a page long and alas, makes no mention of my show at all!

Inadequate websites are not uncommon among galleries in New Zealand but most surprising example is the Govett-Brewster in New Plymouth. Even though they claim to be a contemporary art gallery, in fact the ‘leading contemporary museum in the country’ and liberally use words like ‘groundbreaking’ they have a site that is bordering on being woefully unpleasant to navigate. Try it for yourself.


It’s taking me hours today to assemble a letter to the editor of the Taranaki daily newspaper. I still haven’t completed it but I want to get it away today because Council elections are this weekend.

The Len Lye Foundation want to demolish the Regent building for their World Centre for Len Le. As it happens I am particularly fond of the Regent. It’s right next door to the Govett-Brewster. The Govett-Brewster admin are enthusiastic about the project which is unfortunate because I’m a ratepayer in New Plymouth and I don’t enjoy my money being spent in this way. The Council so far, while not unanimously behind the Foundation’s activities, have offered no resistance to the destruction of this landmark, although what I’m discovering is that a lot of people, both pro and anti the Foundation’s goals, don’t realise that this building is to go.

I have made postings about this before. Here is one of them.

The large photos in the windows are mine. The owner of the building before the Council purchased it, gave me the use of the corner room to put up a drive-by show. It was between tenants.