Tilting at the heart of the beast, 2012 (Berlin)
I first saw Sam Foley’s Berlin street scene at Pah Homestead in Auckland in 2012 where it won a Wallace Art Award. This, along with images of Titahi Bay and other familiar places are included in this fine exhibition at Pataka. The combination of oil painting, projection and sound really works in this space. I must however point out that my partner Jay Hollows is Gallery Supervisor and helped Sam with the technical set up. So I have a bias, but this work is still really stunning.
I knew nothing about this Walter Cook collector whose pieces are on display at Te Papa on level 6. He is a librarian who started a collection of pottery and ceramics inspired by his reading of William Morris of the Arts & Crafts movement. Morris’ most famous line:
“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”
I like the fact that Te Papa has featured the collector (a short video with him talking about the collection is included). The only thing that alarmed me somewhat was that some of these pieces looked like things my Mum had in her house which we threw out after she died – I hope they weren’t Liberty & Co or Royal Doulton!
Dame Margaret Sparrow has been a doctor for many years with Family Planning, and in her role as educator has collected different kinds of contraception over time. That collection is on display at Te Papa Museum in Wellington in the Illot Room on the fourth floor at present. Very interesting to see the changes over time in the presentation of condoms, in the devices used on women (I cringed looking at some of them) and the advice the public has written and displayed for their younger selves. A nice short video of Dame Margaret Sparrow talking about her work too. Shame it’s a small space tucked away, but I felt there was some nice synchronicity in having a display of Carmen’s head dresses outside, with her comment that she was ‘trisexual’ because she’d try anything. Carmen was a legendary entertainer who ran two very successful bars (or ‘coffee houses’) in Wellington. She died in Sydney, but left chosen materials to Te Papa.
Chinese artist Ai Weiwei has been kept under house arrest and had his passport taken away in his homeland of China but he’s a social media genius who tweets like it’s poetry and knows how to engage people to work with him on projects from recording the identities of children who died in shoddily built schools during earthquakes to his latest project – challenging the Lego Corporation’s refusal to sell him their product because his work is ‘political’.
Check out this great film about him ‘Ai Weiwei Never Sorry’: http://www.aiweiweineversorry.com/
So now Pataka Art Gallery and Museum at Porirua is getting involved by providing a BMW in the spine of the building into which you can put your old lego (through the sunroof) to contribute to Ai Weiwei’s next project. Hooray!!!