Tuesday, 31 July 2007

Jingle Jangle Morning

Bill Hammond's huge new show at Christchurch's City Gallery is a knockout. It shows the development of his personal iconography of bird-headed figures, his love of repeat patterns, his transcribing of musical forms into painting, and his dream-like primeval landscapes. I love the freedom of his drawing and compositions, and dripping, streaky applications of paint, and the stunning effects he gets from an almost monochromatic palette. Go see it if you can.

A Fancy Man

A Fancy Man

This book is absolutely dazzling, if such a gritty, honest book can be dazzling. It tells the story of the love affair of a very young woman and an older man in a small rural town which heartily disapproves. He is an alcoholic farm worker trying to raise two young children on his own, and she is a rebellious schoolgirl whose only hobby is riding her pony. How their story works out, with all its twists and turns, is a fascinating journey.

McCauley's style reminds me of Thomas Keneally's: like Keneally, she not only tells a ripping yarn, but gets you right in among the characters, effortlessly switching between many points of view.

Sue McCauley's Book Council Page is here. Make sure you scroll down to the bottom of the page and read the story about the horse!

Rorscharch would be pleased

Bill Flynn and Samantha Keely Smith are two artists who work with paint. Their work isn't figurative, but it isn't quite abstract either...the paint is applied with careful randomness: the pigment runs and pools and separates, creating organic-looking works which are formless but evocative.

Tuesday, 3 July 2007

Congratulations Lynn Kelly

Lynn Kelly has won the 2007 Dowse Foundation Gold Award for her jewellery. There's an interview with her here. You can see examples of her work, based on New Zealand native plants, at Fingers and Gallery 33.

Shane Bradford

Shane Bradford's artistic practice is somewhere between painting and sculpture. He layers objects with paint by dipping them in bright rainbow hues, and the result is a paradoxical confection: his toy planes, cars and soldiers look almost good enough to eat...and his cooking utensils, dipped in the same colours, look poisonous. He performs a neat inversion: unpalatable subjects are made harmless and playful, and safe domestic subjects are made toxic. One, he seems to suggest, is a consequence of the other.

Bradford won this year's Celeste Art Prize, awarded "to promote painting in its widest sense", and his entry, "Moths", is certainly an exceptional work: his rainbow-coloured planes and soldiers are attached to darts which, stuck in the wall, appear to have been attracted to the glowing light-bulb which hangs in front of them.

Beware the Viking raiders

A bunch of adventurers are test-sailing a traditionally-built Viking longboat from Roskilde, Denmark, to Dublin, Ireland. They will spend 6 weeks working in the open boat on the North Sea, with one square metre of space per person.

Samuel Johnson famously said, “Going to sea is like going to prison, with a chance at drowning”. Well add to that the possibility of catching pneumonia with no shelter from the chilling wind, rain, hail and sleet they are likely to encounter. So why are they doing it? This is "the first time in nearly a thousand years that a fully laden Viking warship will sail across the North Sea." Imagine being part of that.

Read all about the trip here, on the BBC. And there's more information here.