Previously published essays by Rob Garrett on artists and their work, exhibitions and biennales.

Guerrilla sculpture

WWI conscientious objectors remembered

    • Guerrilla sculpture in Wellington commemorating NZ WWI conscientious objectors (anonymous); photo courtesy of Peace Action Wellington
Guerrilla sculptors took to Wellington's waterfront area in April 2016 at the time of the annual ANZAC Day commemorations with an action aimed at commemorating New Zealand's World War I conscientious objectors, including Archie Baxter, who were vilified and brutalised by the New Zealand military.… Read more

Raymond McIntyre (NZ)

Cityscape with Red Awning, n.d.

    • Raymond McIntyre, Cityscape with Red Awning, n.d.
Once Raymond McIntyre reached London in 1909 and began to immerse himself in the European art world his eyes were opened and his painting took strong and long strides in the direction of the post-impressionist avant-garde. Cityscape with Red Awning has all the confidence and informal… Read more

Raymond McIntyre (NZ)

Asters, n.d. (ca. pre-1909)

    • Raymond McIntyre, Asters, n.d.
Asters is really a study of light. Even though the objects depicted – vase, flowers, table-top and wall – are rendered with a luscious impasto materiality, looking closely it is possible to see that McIntyre’s real love here is for the chromatic quality of light. Notice… Read more

Colin McCahon (NZ)

Uruwera 8 (Urewera), 1969

    • Colin McCahon, Urewera no. 8, February 1969 (with verso)
In 1968 Colin McCahon (1919-1987) and his wife Anne were driving along highway 38 past Lake Waikaremoana and through the Urewera ranges. The small series of Urewera paintings of the following year are the artist’s attempt to analyse the thrill and terror he experienced on that… Read more

Bill Hammond (NZ)

Art Lover 3, 1997

    • Bill Hammond, Art Lover 3, 1997
Since 1991 when Bill Hammond (b.1947) repatriated the bird spirits from the Southern Oceans to the Mainland the ominous nature of an Avian waiting pervades his work. Whether passively as in Waiting for Buller (1994) (see below) where preserved birds are draped across a table; or… Read more

Toss Woollaston (NZ)

The Hohonu, 1965

    • Toss Woollaston, The Hohonu 1965
Woollaston’s path to the vigorously compressed space of The Hohonu is a journey of artistic discovery that begins with his first “excited” childhood glimpse of Paul Cézanne’s post-impressionism. Recalling the importance of this moment in 1988 Toss Woollaston (1910-1998) said “for some reason I couldn’t stop… Read more

Garth Tapper (NZ)

Racecourse, 1976

    • Garth Tapper, The Racecourse, 1976
Languid. An antipodean exhaustion – half pleasure, half resignation. The variety of haptic and emotional sensations conveyed by this painting are exquisitely nuanced given the strident tonal, colour and shape contrasts. Garth Tapper (1927-1999) was a master of the gestures of every part of the body.… Read more

Insistent Communities

The limits of art; the failure of institutional practices; and the necessity for action

    • Passive resistance, Istanbul, 19 June 2013; photographer unknown
"The more you press, the bigger it gets" (Gezi Park stencil, 4 June 2013). In the present context of citizen activism and Occupy Movements that call for people's greater participation in public politics, what is the role of contemporary art in the public realm? There's been… Read more

Philip Clairmont (NZ)

Country Carnivore Carnival (n.d.)

    • Philip Clairmont, Country Carnivore Carnival (n.d.), oil on jute, 1440 x 940mm
Philip Clairmont (NZ) Country Carnivore Carnival (n.d.) One of the striking things about Country Carnivore Carnival is the incredible downward vortex of energy that Clairmont (1949-1984) channels through the lowered head; down through the seated figure’s arms; and finally through the hand which grips a pencil… Read more

Pat Hanly (NZ)

Torso G, 1978

    • Pat Hanly, Torso G, 1978
Pat Hanly’s Torso G comes more than a decade after he returns from five years in Europe and marks a time in his career when he said that everything, all the strands he had been working on, were coming together. The painting holds within it the… Read more

Pat Hanly (NZ)

New Order 28 Part II, 1963

    • Patrick Hanly, New Order 28 Part II, oil on board 980 x 855, signed & dated 1963
New Order 28 Part II (1963) is from a group of works that Pat Hanly created in the period immediately following his return from five years working in London, Amsterdam and Florence. When he returned, he was sceptical about staying in New Zealand, and intended rather… Read more

Gretchen Albrecht (NZ)

Snake Charmer, 1976

    • Gretchen Albrecht, Snake Charmer, 1976, acrylic on canvas 1500 x 1820
Gretchen Albrecht’s signature arc sweeps across Snake Charmer with its curved lines suggesting the sway of the snake charmer’s body and mesmerising flute; and the arc that later became synonymous with her name is explicitly foreshadowed here with great confidence and grace. Gretchen Albrecht was born… Read more

Michael Smither (NZ)

Hills of Tongaporutu, 1972

    • Michael Smither, Hills of Tongaporutu, 1972, oil on board, 1210 x 1210
Tongaporutu is a small pretty coastal settlement 67 kilometres north of New Plymouth at the mouth of the Mokau River lined with picturesque old-style family baches. Michael Smither, as we would expect, gives us a different vision of the place. The folksy charm of Smither’s rural… Read more

Gordon Walters (NZ)

Untitled (Piano Keys), nd

    • Gordon Walters, Untitled (Piano Keys), nd
Untitled (Piano Keys) is a remarkable work for the way it forms a stylistic bridge between Walters’ earliest abstract works and the final fifteen years of his oeuvre while he took a break from his koru paintings. The work also gives us a clue as to… Read more

Free Your Mind

Opinion piece in Public Art Review 25th Anniversary Issue

    • Public Art Review Issue 50, 2014, p35; photo by Rob Garrett
"Perhaps the most radical act of a public artist is to activate the public imagination." Rob Garrett's opinion piece "Free Your Mind" was first printed in the 25th Anniversary Issue of "Public Art Review" (Issue 50); published by Forecast Public Art based in Saint… Read more

Brent Wong (NZ)

The Inquiry, 1970

    • Brent Wong, The Inquiry, 1970
Even though there is a picturesque charm to ‘The Inquiry’, with its open sky, serene sand dunes and sea view, there is also a palpable sense of isolation and loss. The work seems haunted by powerful feelings and undercurrents; and Wong’s reputation as New Zealand’s under-rated… Read more

Edward Bullmore

Hikurangi No5, 1963

    • Edward Bullmore, Hikurangi No5, 1963, mixed media on canvas, 165 x 109 cm
Ted Bullmore’s story reads like the stuff of folklore and yet his place in popular accounts of New Zealand’s 20th century art history is somewhat obscure. He grew up in rural Southland; was a notable rugby player; is one of New Zealand’s earliest surrealist artists; gained… Read more

Brent Wong

Untitled, 1974

    • Brent Wong, Untitled 1974, 51.8cm x 73.8cm
Brent Wong burst onto the local art scene in the early 1970s as a young man with original imagery, an impressive technical mastery and a refreshingly surrealist take on New Zealand land and sky. “Untitled 1974” is an important bridge between the artist’s early influences and… Read more

Lost in a dream

Curator's exhibition essay

    • Lost in a dream, exhibition view, Snake Pit; photograph by Rob Garrett
I think I’ve been here before, but I’m not certain: happily adrift among cuddled cats; flash-backs after a car crash; Mozart playing on a train; a date in the teacups; and hallucinations before sleep. “Lost in a dream” gathers work by fourteen artists who have a… Read more

Autumn in Gdańsk

Foxes, fires and foreigners

    • Rebecca Ann-Hobbs, Ah-Round 2009; photo by Bogna Kociumbas
Rob Garrett reflects on his role as curator of “Unearthing Delights: Markets, Memories and Meetings”, the 5th edition of Narracje - Installations and Interventions in Public Space organised by Instytut Kultury Miejskiej (Gdańsk City Culture Institute) in partnership with Gdańskiej Galerii Miejskiej (Gdańsk City Gallery). In… Read more

Mildura Palimpsest #9

Symposium Talks October, 2013

    • Rob Garrett lecture for La Trobe University, State Library of Victoria; photo by Isabella Holding
"Invisibility, improbability, empty shoes and insistent communities: temporary public art strategies and cultural citizenship" Lecture 1: Saturday 5 October; 9.00am – 12.30pm Mildura Palimpsest #9 Symposium Brian Grogan Theatre, La Trobe University, Benetook Avenue, Mildura, VIC, Australia Lecture 2: Tuesday 8 October; 6.00pm Lecture Series,… Read more

Q&A on Public Art Policy

Expanded imaginations

    • Ines Tartler, Auto Garage 2009, Auckland; photo by Rob Garrett
What exactly is a public art policy? I think at its most simple, and if it is a city council public art policy, it will cover five key areas. It will describe what public art is, and hopefully express this in such a way that gives… Read more

Denise Batchelor

Stasis without death

    • Denise Batchelor, Ruru 2011; image courtesy of the artist
Even though movement is always at least suggested in Batchelor’s works, her real interest lies in how things can become immobilised; in order to hold us, perhaps indefinitely, in the moment at the point we are captivated by what we are looking at. This is her… Read more

Michael Smither

Family in the Van, 1971

    • Michael Smither, “Family in the Van” 1971, oil on canvas, 487 x 632mm
Where are they? Which part of New Zealand stands in for the holy land in this family portrait, with Michael Smither’s wife Elizabeth showing the weariness of family road trips and the faces of the two children still enlivened by the adventure? The landscape suggests Otago;… Read more

Roy Lichtenstein

Whaam!, 1963

    • Roy Lichtenstein, Whaam! ca,1963 (print diptych)
Roy Lichtenstein’s Whaam! artworks (both the offset lithograph and the ten-times-larger painting of the same title in the Tate) come from the startling short period which launched the artist out of obscurity into Pop Art stardom. It was a moment which might never have occurred. Up… Read more

Looking back

2001-11 in New Zealand visual arts

    • The Big Idea
As part of The Big Idea’s celebration of ten years online, critic Mark Amery brought together a discussion of those years in the visual arts from five leading visual arts practitioners, including writer and curator Rob Garrett. Garrett began the decade in Dunedin and now plays… Read more

Andy Warhol

Flowers 72, 1970

    • Andy Warhol, Flowers 72, 1970
There’s a black and white photograph of Andy Warhol at The Factory from 1970 where he is surrounded by various versions of “Flowers 72”. Like a pop star, framed within the square format of the photo, sitting in the strong chiaroscuro of daylight falling from overhead… Read more

Tony Fomison

Isn’t it my turn, 1976

    • Tony Fomison, Isn’t it my turn, 1976
Tony Fomison’s mysterious painting of a giant head looming over a green field, accompanied by two diminutive figures comes from one of the strongest and most distinctive periods of his career. It is a time when many of the European influences he absorbed a decade earlier… Read more

Shane Cotton

Spirits Bay, 2002-2004

    • Shane Cotton, Spirits Bay, 2002-04
“Spirits Bay” by Shane Cotton (b. 1964) looks out to sea. Given there is no correct way to look at a Cotton from this period, no one path for connecting its distributed parts, I find myself starting with its wide flat horizon, its division into a… Read more

Peter Robinson

In This Lost and Forsaken Land

    • Peter Robinson, In This Lost and Forsaken Land... (detail)
“In This Lost and Forsaken Land” comes from a period where Peter Robinson was provocatively questioning the effectiveness and legitimacy of using Maori motifs in personal, organisational and national identity gambits. In the past decade the sovereignty debate has focused on seabed and foreshore ownership. In… Read more

SCAPE 2010 Preview

Awakening a pedestrian citizenry

    • Contemporary Visual Art & Culture Broadsheet 39.3, 2010, title page
SCAPE 2010 Public Art Walkway raises questions about living and walking in the inner city and the ways festivals of temporary public art engage with the city as a given situation. Framing a biennial as a walk of art is logical in a city such as… Read more

Pat Hanly

Vacation Screen, 1987

    • Pat Hanly, Vacation Screen
Pat Hanly’s account of how he returned from Europe in the early 1960s, ostensibly en-route to Australia, only to be captured by en epiphany of light and colour and the condition of the country on Torbay beach, is probably well-known. But this rare screen from 1987… Read more

Stephen Banbury

Column of Light, 2001-2002

    • Stephen Banbury, Column of Light at art&object auction house
Column of Light is painting as architecture. It has the scale of domestic architecture at nearly four metres high; and it echoes the construction methods of built forms with its stacked seven panels. But anyone familiar with Bambury’s work will also find associations to the piling… Read more

Bill Hammond

Primeval Screen, 1996-1997

    • Bill Hammond, Primeval Screen 1996-1997, acrylic on folding screen, six panels, 1715 x 2250mm
There is no protection: it is wet! Dripping wet! Drenched and dissolving before our eyes. It is an End of sorts that started as a Revelation. As is well-known Bill Hammond’s road to Damascus moment came in 1991 on the bleak, windswept, salt-spray drenched islands that… Read more

Shane Cotton

Wake, 1995

    • Shane Cotton, Wake, 1995, oil on canvas, 1900 x 2750mm
Wake is a major Shane Cotton work. Effectively one of the anchor stones from the first mature period of his oeuvre which has been dubbed his ‘history’ period (1994-98). In 2003, for the landmark survey of Cotton’s early career, Wellington’ City Gallery marked the singularity and… Read more

Dale Frank

Flying Solo Dawns... 2004

    • Dale Frank, Flying Solo Dawns Basting the Truth/Milfs and Dilfs waiting 4 U Auckland Landscape, 2004, varnish on canvas, 2000 x 2600mm
Dale Frank’s titles flow, ripple, swirl, shine and bleed just as much as his pigmented varnish does. “Flying Solo…” is painting becoming writing.   What’s he doing with these long, complex, descriptive titles? Frank’s gesture is akin to saying, “Look, this painting only makes sense if… Read more

The Farm: Alan Gibbs

Rob Garrett takes an exclusive tour

    • Alan Gibbs (2009), Gibbs Farm, photo by Rob Garrett
Riding with Alan Gibbs in his Jeep, we went down to the edge of the harbour to look at the Goldsworthy. We had to drive out along a shell bank with the water lapping at both sides. The end was blanketed by a vast flock of… Read more

Bill Hammond

Flag, 1997

    • Bill Hammond, Flag, 1997, acrylic on un-stretched canvas, 1410 x 2130mm (detail)
The story of Bill Hammond’s inspirational trip to the Auckland Islands in 1991 is well known. How the islands showed him “a New Zealand before there were men, women, dogs and possums.” How the 19th century ornithological book “Buller’s Birds” – which is populated with illustrations… Read more

Crash landings

SCAPE 2008 Christchurch Biennial

    • Carmela Gross, Real People / Are Dangerous (2008), Colombo Street overbridge, commissioned for SCAPE 2008, photo by Rob Garrett
From crash landings to dangerous prohibitions: Rob Garrett reviews SCAPE 2008 Christchurch Biennial of Art in Public Space, 19 September-2 November 2008.   Fulya Erdemci and Danae Mossman’s Wandering Lines is the most coherent and interesting SCAPE biennial of art in public space in Christchurch… Read more

Richard Killeen

Monkey's Revenge, 1987

    • Richard Killeen, Monkey’s Revenge (1987), detail
While Creationists say any search for evolutionary missing links has been fruitless, Killeen proffers a hyper-abundance of links – with Charles Darwin presiding in the centre. The 1987 cut-out Monkey’s Revenge is from one of the key transitional periods of the artist’s impressive career.   1986… Read more

Brent Wong

Meditation, 1970

    • Brent Wong, Meditation
Meditation is like a sunlit version of a dream that recurred through my childhood. As I floated in black space, my body locked in that familiar but discomforting sleeping paralysis, giant, heavy girders floated in military-like formations towards me. Ponderous and yet seemingly weightless, they bore… Read more

Frances Upritchard

Untitled, 2002-2003, 2006

    • Francis Upritchard, Untitled (Head), 2003
Francis Upritchard (2003 Beck’s Futures finalist in London and 2006 Walters Prize winner in Auckland) has an unerring knack of holding us between the alluring and the completely disgusting. The 2002-03 heads are exemplars of this. Untitled is as much a vile and bilious thing as… Read more

Public Art

How to get involved

    • Karena Way,
Public art is an exciting activity to be involved in. Opportunities are growing as Councils and private developers begin to see public art’s potential to signify creativity and innovation, and create a sense of pride and identity. The public arena is one of endless possibility –… Read more

Dugald Page

Stained glass windows at Westlake

    • Dugald Page, stained glass windows at Westlake Boys High School
The stained glass window has traditional connections to commemoration and memorial. It is an art form of illustration, instruction and enlightenment. It is usually tasked with saying something, or many things – important things – it is not enough to be good looking.   Dugald Page’s… Read more

Exploding Water

Roman Signer in Auckland, 2008

    • Roman Signer, Wasserstiefel / Gumboots (1986), location: Weissbad, Kanton Appenzell, colour photograph: Marek Rogowiec
A pair of black gumboots stands in a country road. Suddenly water explodes from them. This surprising moment is captured in a colour photograph. Years later, a door stands by itself in the landscape. A man crouches low in front of the door, facing it. He… Read more

Billy Apple

Untitled, 1965

    • Billy Apple, Untitled, 1965
Billy Apple has the distinction to be a leading figure in two international art movements. First, in London, he was part of Britain’s pop generation in the early 1960s. In 1964, having changed name from Barrie Bates to Billy Apple he presented the first solo pop… Read more

Pat Hanly

Lunar Lover I

    • Pat Hanly, Lunar Lover I
They say that love is blind. If this is true, then it is a paradox, and equally true, that lovers see more clearly; innocently. The lover sees in the loved one, qualities only glimpsed by others. If lovers are blind in one eye, they are all-seeing… Read more

Rose Nolan

Forever, 2002

    • rose nolan forever hanging in a o auction rooms march 2008
Optimism, a plea, true love, desperation..? Forever is too big an idea for one word. Nolan’s banner which cascades down the wall and across the floor turns the unfathomable idea into a veritable waterfall: never-ending, relentless and beautifully overwhelming. In another version of the work ‘forever’… Read more

Marie Strauss

Mud, Coats and Cheese

    • Marie Strauss, Round Pot. 2001. Handbuilt stoneware with multi-fired slips and glazes. 26 x 14 cm. Private Collection. phot courtesy of the artist.
MARIE STRAUSS'S POTTERY is located down a long stream-bounded and wooded track in the tiny farming community of North Taieri in New Zealand's South Island. Though hot and bright during the brief summer months, the farm where she works and finds her clay is mostly wet and… Read more

Ian Scott

Portrait of Don Binney at Te Henga, 1969

    • Ian Scott, Portrait of Don Binney
I’d like to sit this painting alongside one by Binney from three years earlier. You may know the one I mean as it hangs just down the road in Auckland Art Gallery. It’s the one Binney painted of Te Henga (Bethells Beach) from almost the same… Read more

Bill Hammond

Boulder Bay, 2001

    • Bill Hammond, Boulder Bay 4, 2001
Boulder Bay, facing out to sea from Banks Peninsula, is a place for primary school field trips. A place where children yelling to each other clamber over boulders to explore rock pools filled with tender sea anemones, barnacles and starfish. It is all blue sea and… Read more
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