Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Govett-Brewster love

Reasons why I loved the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery when I spent the day there on Sunday:

1. Yin Xiuzhen's 'China in Four Seasons' work currently on exhibition (I probably broke rules taking these photos in the first place and now I'm probably breaking more putting them on here, but oh well, surely when you're being really nice about someone they can't tell you off...)

This is one of the portable suitcase cities. Each suitcase city had a streetscape recording from each real city (I'm pretty sure this one is Melbourne) playing from underneath it. I'm a sucker for all things made miniature/small so these little fabric skyscrapers made me really happy.

I heard Melanie from the gallery talking about how this work is a reaction to China's one child policy; because each family is only allowed one child the expectations placed upon that child and the love and warmth they recieve can be overwhelming, like being smothered by a thousand scarves.

2. This khata scarf that visitors to the gallery have been invited to knit a few rows on. It is 88 stitches across, 88 being the Chinese number of double happiness, luck, and good fortune (so I was told). There is a huge list of people from all around the world who have knitted a row or two in various different (some very complicated and beautiful) stitch patterns of their choice and the scarf now measures 8.6 meters long. It's going to be auctioned for charity this Saturday.

Tash and I knitting a row each - you can knit from both ends of the scarf

3. The exhibition currently on by Fiona Jack called 'Living Halls'. It's about New Zealand war memorial halls. It's fascinating to see how many tiny rural settlements built war memorial halls, many of which are no longer used and have fallen into disrepair. Fiona Jack invited people from around New Zealand to paint their local war memorial hall and there is a room full of paintings of halls.

Postcard from Fiona Jack: Living Halls exhibition. Photograph by Nigel Prickett

4. That the gallery's founding patron was Monica Brewster, who "envisaged a contemporary art museum of international standing that would offer a window to the world in the small coastal community of New Plymouth". Her maiden name was Govett and her married name Brewster.

5. That the gallery is "home to the Collection and Archive of pioneer filmmaker and kinetic artist Len Lye (1901–1980), one of New Zealand’s most ingenious and influential modern artists". I had heard of Len Lye but until I read about him at the gallery I had no idea how awesome he was. His idea of kinetic sculpture and movement as an art form is so beautiful: "One of my art teachers put me onto trying to find my own theory of art. After many early morning walks an idea hit me that seemed like a complete revelation. It was to compose motion, just as musicians compose sound. This idea was to lead me far, far away from...traditional art." It gives me a far greater appreciation of his Water Whirler on the waterfront here in Wellington.

All in all, the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery is an awesome place - there are many more reasons why I loved it but I won't go on and on. Basically, if you're ever in New Plymouth go to the Govett-Brewster. I would definitely love to go back.

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