DPAG Weekly Update
20 April 2020
Kia ora dear friends of Dunedin Public Art Gallery! Here is lockdown-letter #3 bringing you something old (we reveal one of the Gallery's most sought after works); something new (Ann Shelton's Vault, Lovers' Leap, Otago Peninsula); something borrowed (we borrow from an early 20th Century artform – CUBOMANIA); and something to do (the DPAG Art Quiz & Art at Home projects)
continuity – a favourite artwork
Gallery Curator, Lauren Gutsell, writes about one of the Gallery's most sought after works, Maybe Tomorrow by Alvin Pankhurst.
Working with a collection, you quickly become aware of the artworks that people always hope are on display – the visitor favourites, the key artworks that are seen to represent the strength and scope of the Dunedin Public Art Gallery’s national and international collections, and those that speak directly to Ōtepoti Dunedin. Works such as Monet’s La Débâcle (1880), Tissot’s Waiting for the Train (Willesden Junction) (c.1871-1873), Petrus van der Velden’s A Waterfall in the Otira Gorge (1891), Rita Angus’ Self Portrait (c.1937) and almost anything by Frances Hodgkins and Ralph Hotere.
With the balance of changing exhibitions, conservation practices and limited gallery spaces, it is not possible, nor appropriate, to have works on permanent display. That being said, we will always make the collection available to people if we can, and often find ourselves taking visitors into the store room to view a particular work on the racks. In my time at the DPAG, one work has been requested more than any other – Alvin Pankhurst’s Maybe Tomorrow (1974). Whether it is the painstaking detail, the chaotic composition, the surreal and distorted perspective, or the play with nostalgia and memory, visitors take the time to really look at this painting, to discover and unpack every detail and to carefully consider Pankhurst’s hypothetical tomorrow decades on.
optimism for the future – a recent acquisition
Vault, Lovers’ Leap, Otago Peninsula 2003
Throughout her career, Ann Shelton has used her art practice to question and shift the nature of the photographic image and its capacity for documentation and storytelling. Looking to both fictional and non-fictional narratives, Shelton’s subject-matter has been investigated and unpacked through the recording of specific sites. These locations act as markers of history and memory, while also providing a framework for wider social, cultural and political discussions.
In 2001 Shelton started a series of works called Public Places, which looked to sites drawn from a range of filmic and literary sources such as Heavenly Creatures, Picnic at Hanging Rock and An Angel at My Table. These works were presented in pairs (diptychs), where one image would present the landscape as it was and the other would be manipulated in some way, using strategies such as mirroring, inverting and doubling. In Shelton’s Vault, Lovers’ Leap, Otago Peninsula (2003), which was acquired by the Dunedin Public Art Gallery in 2019, we see the same strategies at play.
This work was included in a kind of sleep at Govett-Brewster Art Gallery in 2004, an exhibition that brought together works that documented locations that were closely connected to urban myths, local folklore and superstitions. Here, Ōtepoti’s Lovers Leap, a landmark linked with stories of romantic tragedy and trauma is documented, doubled and inverted – asking viewers to consider, in a variety of ways, what is real and what has been fabricated.
[ANN SHELTON Vault, Lovers’ Leap, Otago Peninsula 2003, c-type photography, diptych. Courtesy of the artist.]
borrowed happiness — from an early 20th Century artform
CUBOMANIA invented by artist Gherasim Luca
“It is always difficult for me to express myself in a visual language”
CUBOMANIA was a technique used by Romanian Surrealist artist Gherasim Luca after World War Two. Many Surrealist ideas were inspired by the Dada movement which developed earlier - towards the end of World War One. The Dada artist Hanna Höch invented the collage art form in 1916 or thereabouts. This technique involved her cutting out parts from photographs or advertisements and re-gluing in a particular way that caused shock and disturbance within the viewer. Cubomania stems from this initial idea of collage and disruption of expectations.
Today, Cubomania is not only a fun art form familiar in schools, but it can free up the mind - it is unpredictable, with elements of surprise.
TO CREATE YOUR CUBOMANIA IMAGE:
- You will need a pencil, a ruler, scissors (or craft-knife – adults only), glue, an image from a newspaper or a magazine, and a sheet of plain paper of similar weight to your image
- Draw up a grid of 4cm squares on the reverse of your chosen image using ruler and pencil – you may need to crop the picture to fit increments of 4cm
- Cut out the squares as exactly as possible. Turn the squares over once you have cut them out so that you only see the reverse in order that your Cubomania is completely random
- Draw up the same sized grid of 4cm squares on the plain paper using pencil and ruler (you can use brown paper, the reverse of wrapping paper or any plain paper, however the plain paper should be the same weight or thickness as the cut squares or it will curl up)
- Glue the back of the squares one at a time and then place and smooth into the pencil squares on the plain paper, one square at a time, using a soft material to smooth out any wrinkles
- HOORAY! you have just created your first Cubomania art piece
You may want to google 'dada' and 'surrealism' for an overview.
Here is an essay on Luca with some images:
A general biography:
The DPAG Quiz and more ART at HOME projects
1. The DPAG Art Quiz #2
Looks like quite a few of you tested your art knowledge last week (the most clicks by far) see how you go this time — what pub was Sam Hunt standing outside in our iconic work by Robin White??.... click this link
2. More ART at HOME activities
So many more ART at HOME activities to do..... make a wonderful colourful necklace from pasta, turn ice block sticks into a fabulous flying machine, create your own comics channel on TV.... click the pictures above or find them on our ART at HOME page.