Media Release: October, 2003. 

Paintings of landscape, sky and weather around one of New Zealand's most spectacular landscapes are presented a new series of work by Wellington artist Gerda Leenards. Fjords mists & vapour opens in the Michael Hirschfeld Gallery on 17 October. Described by curator Gregory O’Brien as one of New Zealand’s most singular interpreters of landscape, Leenards thinks feels and paints her way into Doubtful Sound, Fiordland, presenting a sequence of dramatically edited views of the physical world.

The works in Fjords mists & vapour are paintings in which time and space are hauntingly altered. Hills appear like veils and mist weighs heavily on the landforms. Like all Leenards’ work the series is an exploration of ‘landscape’ in a general sense. “It is the abstract and emotive qualities that are important to me,” says Leenards, “the subject is only part of it.”

Her Fjords series, based on views around Deep Cove in Doubtful Sound, Fiordland, evolved from photographs and sketches she made while accompanying a scientist on a research trip to the region in 2002. In the Mists series there are echoes of the work of other weather-obsessives, Anne Noble’s Wanganui River photographs, Jerusalem-era poetry by James K. Baxter, and the films of Vincent Ward, all of whom have been transfixed by the expressive potential of weather.

Curator Gregory O’Brien describes the works in Fjords mists & vapour as paintings in which time and space are hauntingly altered. He says Leenards’ paintings are not self–contained pictures so much as they “pieces of landscape that rhythmically step their way around the gallery walls; landscapes in which the only human presence is the viewer in the gallery.”

Born in Nijmegen, Holland, in 1946, Gerda Leenards immigrated with her family to New Zealand in 1956. Her work has featured in four previous exhibitions at City Gallery Wellington. She lives and works at Breaker Bay, near the entrance to Wellington Harbour, where she can watch the weather from home.

Hear Gerda Leenards and Wellington meteorologist Erick Brenstrum give an illustrated talk about the exhibition on Tuesday 4 November at 6pm at City Gallery Wellington. Free admission.

Fjords mists & vapour is presented within the 360 programme – a full perspective on Wellington art and design, which is generously sponsored by Designworks. Thanks also to Magnum Mac, Colourcraft and Publication & Design, Wellington City Council. City Gallery Wellington is managed by the Wellington Museums Trust with major funding from the Wellington City Council.

Media Release: September, 2003. 

Bright, bubbly and optimistic – Safe Places is the third exhibition in the Michael Hirschfeld Gallery’s series of annual shows presenting work by emerging artists. Safe Places opens on 12 September and showcases some of the best work by new Wellington artists – Chris Clements, Shay Launder, Toshi Endo, Clem Devine and Fiona Gillmore.

The show explores ‘safe places’ – presenting art works which operate as active spaces for playing, for both artist and audience. Curator Emma Bugden describes the works in Safe Places as cunningly witty. "These are artists who use irony in their work, but with humour and charm which is very refreshing."

"Safe Places reflects a new generation of artists in Wellington producing incredibly exciting work across a range of media. The Michael Hirschfeld Gallery is committed to supporting talented new artists and these five are certainly ones to keep an eye on.”

Artist and musician Chris Clements works across painting and sculpture, investigating the disciplines of archaeology and history. In Safe Places he explores ideas of housing and containment. Nostalgic without ever being sentimental, Clements’ work evokes both personal and collective histories.

A recent graduate from the Masters programme of Sydney College of the Arts, Shay Launder is currently teaching first year design at the Massey University’s School of Design, Fine Arts and Music. In Safe Places Launder’s sculpture of a large soft felt boulder looks like nature by way of the local craft store.

Wellington designer Toshi Endo graduated from the University of Otago, and has since worked for companies throughout New Zealand and in the UK. The projected version of his web-based work Safe Places provides the title for the exhibition. Presenting us with an animated forest environment, in Endo’s world animals roam free, at one with humans, trees grow, the sun comes out, and the day passes in a kind of beautiful dream.

Artist and Designer Clem Devine is a recent graduate from Massey University’s College of Design, Fine Arts and Music, and is currently working as a graphic designer for local firm Eyework Design. In Safe Places he presents The 16th BMW Art Car, a photographic light box work which refers to BMW’s promotional Art Cars from the 1970s and 1980s. Revelling in a desire for fast cars and inserting himself without invitation into the canon of international art stars, Devine’s 16th BMW Art Car is unashamedly brash and youthfully optimistic.

A newcomer to Wellington and a recent graduate from Auckland University’s Elam School of Fine Arts, Safe Places is the first time Fiona Gillmore’s work has been shown in Wellington. Better Luck Next Time resembles a commercial lightbox which has been cast aside and abandoned, sitting on the floor on a pile of timber. Ironic, yet earnest, Gillmore tracks an urban landscape in the era of instant consumer culture.

The curator and the artists will give a free public floortalk on Thursday 9 October at 6pm.

Safe Places is presented within the 360 programme – a full perspective on Wellington art and design, which is generously sponsored by Designworks. Thanks also to Magnum Mac, Colourcraft and Publication & Design, Wellington City Council.

Media Release: August, 2003. 

Prepare yourselves for visual and aural overload – Port Replicator is coming! From the 10 August to 7 September 2003 the Michael Hirschfeld Gallery will be transformed in to an immersive visual and audio environment by Wellington artist Eugene Hansen, operating under the alias of VJ Rex.

Port Replicator, is a collaboration between Hansen, Wellington painter Simon Morris, Wellington audio artist Kaleb Bennet, and Auckland audio artists Field Audio and Keri Whaiteri. Together they will create a digital, pop-culture wonderland populated by dinosaurs, cowboys, spaceships, oversized ‘Chuppa Chup’ lollies wearing furry balaclava hats and animated characters.

The starting point for the show is a selection of found video footage, from television shows and movies, which is then, reworked using audio and visual mixing techniques from contemporary DJ culture. The name, Port Replicator refers to a device which plugs into a notebook computer allowing it to be used as a harddrive which printers, monitors and keyboards can then be plugged into. This is art 21st century style.

The exhibition is a true work in progress. The soundtrack and visuals change weekly, updated every Monday by a live performance remix in the gallery by Hansen and one of the audio artists.

Curator Emma Bugden says that perhaps the best way to describe the experience of viewing Eugene Hansen’s work is to think of being in a shopping mall or video game parlour, both of which, like Hansen’s work, completely immerse you in sound and colour.

The gallery walls are painted lilac and pink, connected by a sleek blue stripe, produced by painter Simon Morris, which runs the length of the gallery. Sound emerges from speakers inserted into pop objects and plastic toys from the $2 Shop scattering the gallery, and digital print-outs which are stills from the video clips hanging in the back gallery.

In this exhibition Eugene Hansen is playing with ideas of everyday pop culture as being data to work with, rather than throw away rubbish to be seen when channel surfing. Drawing on current communication and entertainment technologies, Hansen explores the way in which technology can be used to format that data through different processes to make it useful in a variety of applications.

Eugene Hansen (Ngati Maniapoto, Ngati Mahuta) is currently based in Wellington where he is a lecturer at Massey University’s College Design, Fine Arts and Music. He graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Canterbury in 1991 and with a Masters of Fine Arts from RMIT University, Melbourne in 1998. He has exhibited widely throughout New Zealand, and in 2001 was included in the major City Gallery Wellington survey exhibition Techno Māori: Māori Art in the Digital Age.

The live performance remixes will take place on Monday 11, 18 and 25 August and on Monday 1 September between 10 am and 2 pm.

Eugene will give a free artist floortalk on Wednesday 20 August at 6 pm in the Michael Hirschfeld Gallery.

City Gallery Wellington is open daily from 10am to 5pm.

Port Replicator is presented within the 360 programme – a full perspective on Wellington art and design, which is generously sponsored by Designworks. Thanks also to Massey University, Colourcraft and Publication & Design, Wellington City Council. City Gallery Wellington is managed by the Wellington Museums Trust with major funding from the Wellington City Council.

Media Release: July, 2003. 

Shane Cotton is one of Aotearoa New Zealand’s most significant contemporary painters; the large body of work that he has produced over the last fifteen years has helped redefine the nature of contemporary Maori artistic practice. From 13 July – 19 October 2003, City Gallery Wellington, with Principal Sponsor Telecom New Zealand, will present what promises to be one of the year’s most eagerly anticipated and talked about exhibitions – the first major survey exhibition of Shane Cotton’s work.

Shane Cotton, curated by Lara Strongman, Senior Curator at City Gallery, will be presented in three of City Gallery’s four exhibition spaces and spans the period 1993 to 2003. The exhibition will include images that have been considered by many critics to be among the most significant paintings to be produced in New Zealand over the last decade. It will also include several works not previously publicly exhibited, as well a substantial body of new work.

Shane Cotton (Ngati Rangi, Ngati Hine, Te Uri Taniwha) is one of a small group of prominent artists of dual Maori and Pakeha descent. Trained within a European art school tradition, Cotton’s work explores aspects of his bi-cultural heritage – and by extension, examines the nature of New Zealand cultural identity.

Cotton’s work has been included in more than sixty exhibitions in New Zealand and internationally, and he has held more than twenty solo exhibitions of his work in both New Zealand and Australia. His works are included in all major public collections in New Zealand, and in the collection of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney.

The first comprehensive account of Shane Cotton’s practice, the exhibition at City Gallery Wellington will trace the artistic and conceptual development of Cotton’s work from 1993 to today, including his most recent powerful dark paintings dealing with issues of land, spirit and identity.

Coinciding with the opening of Shane Cotton will be the launch of the first major publication examining the work of this prominent New Zealand artist. 2003 marks 15 years of Shane Cotton’s professional practice and represents a timely moment for such a publication. Heavily illustrated and containing essays by Lara Strongman, John Huria, Blair French and Jim Barr and Mary Barr, Shane Cotton will enable those people who cannot visit the exhibition access to Cotton’s ideas and images.

A full public events programme will run at City Gallery during the exhibition, including artist and curator floortalks, readings and panel discussions. Details of events will be announced in coming weeks. One of the highlights of the Gallery calendar for 2003, Shane Cotton also presents a significant education opportunity for both primary and secondary schools. Shane Cotton is one of the most frequently used artist models in the education sector and is studied in the new NCEA assessment. Running throughout the exhibition season the Gallery will offer an exciting and enriching education programme of tours and workshops in the on-site classroom.

City Gallery Wellington has worked with Shane Cotton on several previous occasions. Most recently works by Cotton have been included in the City Gallery’s Techno-Maori: Maori Art in the Digital Age (2001) (with Pataka Museum of Art and Culture) and Parihaka: The Art of Passive Resistance (2000), for which he was one of twelve commissioned artists. City Gallery Wellington maintains an ongoing interest in the development of Shane Cotton’s work and he is working closely with the exhibition’s curator Lara Strongman on the development of this major survey exhibition.

Principal Sponsor Telecom New Zealand Ltd.

The Shane Cotton exhibition is generously supported by Creative New Zealand and the City Gallery Wellington Foundation.

This exhibition has been made possible through the generous support of many public and private collections including: Auckland Art Gallery, Blythe Collection, Auckland, The Chartwell Trust, College House, Christchurch, Dunedin Public Art Gallery, The Fletcher Trust Collection, Gow Langsford Gallery, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, M. Neas and M. Brow, Aloysius and Eileen Teh, Te Papa Tongarewa Museum of New Zealand, Sweeney Vesty Collection.

Media Release: July, 2003. 

A menagerie of crochet covered animals will be unleashed at City Gallery Wellington when Melbourne based artist Louise Weaver’s exhibition Moonlight Becomes You opens on 5 July. From an otter sporting a giant mirror-ball medallion to a lime green racoon in a pair of movie star shades, Weaver’s creatures seem to have been released from museum cabinets and let loose in a glittering disco culture.

Clothed in glittery skins of crochet, sequins and beading, the creatures in Moonlight Becomes You, strut their stuff on a stage bathed in moonlight. Made from high density foam moulds commonly used by taxidermists, Weaver then constructs a new crocheted skin for her creatures using lambswool, nylon, mohair, polyester, silk and cotton.

With appeal to a wide range of ages this delightful exhibition will capture the imagination of art lovers and animal lovers alike. Upon entering the Gallery the viewer is greeted by a cacophony of animal sounds from the twitter of birds to the ribbit, ribbit of frogs – an environment perhaps more like the nocturnal house at the zoo than a city art gallery.

Perched on rocks as though they were in a series of staged dioramas the Louise Weaver’s creatures seem a bit like natural history displays at the museum. But her fanciful animal characters have far more personality than dusty museum exhibits. Weaver says that she wanted to create the sense of the animals “being up to no good.” With naughtiness in mind these creatures, dressed for a special occasion, look a bit frisky or possibly even dangerous.

Born in Mansfield Victoria, Weaver is currently based in Melbourne. She has exhibited widely in Australia and her work has been included in group exhibitions in Canada, Denmark, Korea and the United Kingdom. This is the first time Wellington audiences have had the opportunity to see Louise Weaver’s work.

To coincide with the exhibition, City Gallery Wellington will be running creative holiday workshops for children aged 5-14 years. Designed with fun in mind Crafty Creatures! Workshops, running from 14-18 July, will give children the opportunity to view the exhibition with City Gallery education staff and then spend time in the Gallery’s onsite classroom creating and decorating their own mischievous animals – Weaver style. For more information about Crafty Creatures! Workshops please contact Tracey Monastra, Public Programmes Co-ordinator T: 801 4241.

Moonlight Becomes You, 2003 Courtesy of the artist and Darren Knight Gallery, Sydney. Individual works in Moonlight Becomes You are also courtesy of Jane Kleinmeyer and Anthony Stuart (Melbourne), Mark Young (Melbourne) and Amanda Love (Sydney).

Moonlight Becomes You was first commissioned by the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne, as part of NEW03.

Media Release: June, 2003. 

A stunning exhibition of recent work by significant New Zealand sculptor Elizabeth Thomson opens next week at City Gallery Wellington. Entitled Horoeka and Antequera – Observations on Home and Abroad, this new body of work is inspired by Thomson’s experiences both in New Zealand and abroad.

Although Thomson has lived in Wellington for a number of years and her work is well known, she has not exhibited frequently here. Horoeka and Antequera at the Hirschfeld Gallery, City Gallery Wellington is an exciting and rare opportunity for Wellington audiences to see this artist’s new work.

Elizabeth Thomson first attracted wide public attention in the 1992 exhibition Distance Looks Our Way at the International Expo in Seville, Spain. New Zealand audiences then had a chance to see her exquisite cast bronze moths when the exhibition returned to tour several New Zealand galleries including City Gallery Wellington and Auckland Art Gallery.

Thomson has continued to exhibit widely and in recent years she has undertaken many public and private commissions for site-specific works—the Matterhorn in Cuba Street commissioned a work for its new interior earlier this year.

The five wall-relief sculptures in Horoeka and Antequera – Observations on Home and Abroad were made by casting juvenile and mature Horoeka/lancewood leaves from the native New Zealand tree, along with seed pods and other leaves, in bronze and painting the forms to imitate nature. By arranging these forms along the gallery walls in patterns they seem to shift and waver according to the viewer’s vantage point. Antequera is an ancient town in the plains of Southern Spain which Elizabeth Thomson visited in 2001.

About her inspiration for the exhibition Thomson says: “Horoeka is a leaf, a tree, a person, or a place (home). Antequera is an old exotic town in the interior of Spain, on the edge of a high plain under the mountains. An area inhabited since Megalithic times and where history has swept through for thousands of years—Pagan, Roman, Visigoth, Muslim, Catholic.” Elizabeth Thomson, Wellington, 2003.

Horoeka and Antequera – Observations on Home and Abroad is presented within the 360 programme – a full perspective on Wellington art and design, which is generously sponsored by Designworks. Thanks also to Colourcraft and Publication & Design, Wellington City Council. 

Media Release: May, 2003. 

A captivating exhibition that explores the concept of staged worlds and features new work by four Wellington photographers opens on 15th May at the Michael Hirschfeld Gallery. Curated by Rebecca Wilson of City Gallery Wellington, Set Up includes photographs by Wayne Barrar, Jenny Gillam, Ben Cauchi and Mary Macpherson.

The six works by well known photographer Wayne Barrar blur the line between the real and the imagined. Part of an ongoing project exploring the histories of towns in the South Australian outback the images in Barrar’s photographs include both actual sites and museum displays in the outback towns of Woomera and Coober Pedy. Eerie dwellings carved out of caves complete with television sets and carpeted floors seem familiar yet slightly bizarre. While museum exhibits which at first glance appear to be real upon closer examination reveal themselves to be staged.

For her haunting series Giving Up the Ghost Jenny Gillam has re-photographed work by Auckland photographer Clifton Firth (1904―1980), who encouraged his subjects to assume glamorous poses as if they were actors or models. It is these 1940s portraits that re-appear in Giving Up the Ghost. Interested in photography’s role in memory and history-making, Gillam has photographed and enlarged Firth’s original prints which have deteriorated over time, taking on a truly ghost like quality.

Up and coming photographer Ben Cauchi’s work continues to explore ideas of staged worlds as he leads the viewer back to a time gone by. Setting up make-believe scenarios and using photographic techniques popular in the nineteenth century Cauchi’s works have a soft dreamlike quality to them. These one off images show enactments of tricks and illusions in which the photographer himself often plays the lead role.

Mary Macpherson’s colourful, vibrant work also involves setting up and photographing dreamlike scenarios. Using a maritime painting found in a junk shop, fabric, lace and plastic sea creatures, her tiny stage sets play out the idea of being ‘at sea’. The layered, watery world she creates is a site of dreams, journeys and adventures both real and imagined.

On Tuesday 27 May at 6pm in the Michael Hirschfeld Gallery, join Wayne Barrar, Jenny Gillam, Ben Cauchi and Mary Macpherson for an artist’s flootalk as they discuss their individual contributions to the exhibition.

Set Up is presented within the 360 programme – a full perspective on Wellington art and design, which is generously sponsored by Designworks. 

Media Release: May, 2003. 

Andy Warhol, KFC and ABBA come together in a fun and quirky exhibition at City Gallery Wellington that explores the relationship between art and money. Opening on 10th May Money for Nothing addresses the concept of value through art from the 1960s to today, and includes works by twenty-one New Zealand and international artists.

Exhibition curator and director of Artspace, Tobias Berger, wanted to first question the value of art and then test out the way today’s artists deal with this. In Money for Nothing the idea was to use art to look at the relationship between people and the economy; the way artists deal with value, economy, and the economic impacts on and of the art world.

The exhibition starts with small, more conceptual works from the 1960s like Billy Apple’s FOR SALE (1961), Robert Watts attempt to copyright POP (1965), and the 1970s plaque by English Pop artist Peter Blake, from the Beatle’s Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album cover fame. Two pieces by Andy Warhol, the iconic figure of 1960s Pop art, also feature.

More recent examples include Santiago Sierra who paid six men in Cuba US$30 each to stand in a row and get a line tattooed on their backs, and a film by Nomeda and Gediminas Urbonas in which the volunteer employees of the Lithuanian Savings Bank are singing the Abba classic “Money, Money, Money” the day before this last state owned bank is privatized.

Works by nine New Zealand artists also feature, including David Hatcher’s pictorial representation of the wild gains and losses of the New Zealand stock market; Eimi Tamur’s models of Kentucky Fried Chicken stores; and Violet Faigan’s interpretation of volunteer work with her thrift store sound piece.

Artists featured include: Billy Apple (NZ/US), Peter Blake (GB), Andy Warhol (USA), Plamen Dejanoff, Violet Faigan (NZ), David Hatcher (NZ), Christian Jankowski (D), Andrew McLeod (NZ), Larry Miller (USA), Dane Mitchell (NZ), Kate Newby (NZ), Seth Siegelaub (NL), Santiago Sierra (MEX), Nomeda and Gediminas Urbonas (LIT), Emi Tamua (NZ), Rirkrit Tiravanija (IND), Robert Watts (USA), Lauren Winstone (NZ), Peter Robinson (NZ).

For further media information please contact Anna Davidson, Publicist, City Gallery Wellington

Phone 64 4 801 3959

Fax 64 4 801 3960

Email anna.davidson@wcc.govt.nz

Media Release: April, 2003. 

An exhibition that draws on the kiwi tradition of the backyard hobbyist opens this week at the Michael Hirschfeld Gallery, City Gallery Wellington. Ray Ritchie, a local self taught artist, has been making eye-catching pieces of painting and sculpture for the last 30 years. The First Exhibition Ever is the first public exhibition of Ray’s artwork. Many of the pieces in the exhibition are everyday objects and materials which Ray elevates through his own creative ‘language’ and transforms into colourful, whimsical creations.

Ray’s work first came to light when his wife Margaret responded to a notice artist and Massey University lecturer Stuart Shepherd placed in a local community newspaper as part of a Massey sponsored survey of self-taught and visionary artists in New Zealand.

As guest curator Stuart Shepherd explains, “Ray Ritchie can be seen as following the noble NZ traditional of backyard tinkering, which has produced whirligigs in the form of the running Pukeko or cut-out used tyres that resemble swans.”

Often in Ray’s work non-sense is made out of signs and institutional authority gets set up. But it’s not just a simple mockery of established orders, there’s an affection for a great creator - as Stuart Shepherd says, “a creator who loves human animals and four legged animals, colour, and chaos, and one who permits a poor mortal to find wonder in the ordinary, to transform a flip-top ashtray into the blinking eyes of a dog, and an old bathplug into a royal crown.”

During the past 30 years Ray Ritchie has worked as a civil servant, a merchant seaman, and an actor. He has been making artwork from his house in old undeveloped Newtown, Wellington for the past 30 years.

Ray Ritchie - The First Exhibition Ever is presented within the 360 programme – a full perspective on Wellington Art, which is generously sponsored by Designworks, Workshop DIY Framing and Suspect Productions.

Media Release: March, 2003. 

Peter Black - Real Fiction, a survey of the 35 year career of one of New Zealand’s leading photographers, opens at City Gallery Wellington on 23 March. The exhibition will include approximately 200 photographs from the major periods of Black’s career many of which have never been shown publicly before.

The exhibition tracks Peter Black’s career from his first ‘street photograph’ taken in Brisbane in 1973, to his 2002 series Streetworks, images taken ‘from the hip’ while walking along the pavement, mainly in Auckland and Wellington. His photographs provide a powerful record of the everyday, reflecting the pace and behaviour of daily urban life – from brass bands and fashion shows to photographs of Springbok tour protests.

A major figure in New Zealand photography, Peter Black is also an important Wellington artist. One of a generation of photo-artists that has also included Laurence Aberhart, Peter Peryer, Bruce Foster, Anne Noble and Fiona Clark, Peter studied photography with William Main at Wellington Polytechnic before spending the late 1970s as a freelancer. His images from this time still surface occasionally in The Listener and elsewhere.

Peter Black’s first exhibition was at the PhotoForum Gallery, Wellington, in 1979. After shows at the Wellington City Art Gallery and the Waikato Art Museum, he exhibited Fifty Photographs at the National Art Gallery in 1982-the first solo exhibition by a contemporary New Zealand photographer to be staged by that institution. In 1990, his ‘Moving Pictures’ were exhibited in the old Wellington City Art Gallery premises in Victoria St – and were shown again recently as the opening exhibition at the McNamara Gallery in Wanganui. (22 images from this important series are included in Real Fiction). Between times, and since then, he has exhibited extensively in public and private galleries throughout the country. He has also made series of work in France and North America, and has produced commissioned series for Peter McLeavey, the Hirschfeld family and others.

Peter Black suggested the title for the exhibition – Real Fiction – because it draws attention to both the artifice and the reality inherent in his photography. Peter’s photographs insist on a close proximity between ‘fictional’ and ‘real’. He is concerned with the capability of real life to yield metaphors, to expand and contract. Pictorial analogies abound in the work: while Black’s photographs are images of the real world, they are also a compendium of selected fictions.

The exhibition is accompanied by a 168 page publication, a special issue of the literary journal Sport, which includes 171 photographs by Peter Black as well as essays and poems about his work by 25 leading art writers and poets (including Bill Manhire, Ian Wedde, Gavin Hipkins, Jenny Bornholdt, Dinah Hawken, Jim Barr and Mary Barr, James Brown).

For further media information please contact Anna Davidson, Publicist, City Gallery Wellington

Phone 64 4 801 3959

Fax 64 4 801 3960

Email anna.davidson@wcc.govt.nz