A Broader Perspective

A Broader Perspective

At the beginning of last year I was lucky enough to be taken to the United States by my parents, which involved traipsing around the Midwest and California for five weeks. Being avidly art-oriented, my mother has an incredible knack of finding galleries: take a very recent trip to the depths of the South Island, where we abandoned a lunch in Bluff for the sake of experiencing art in Gore of all places. So, no matter where we were in the big USA, I was exposed to art.

The interesting thing was … it really wasn’t overly interesting. I reached a similar conclusion after travelling to Sydney recently. I’m ashamed to admit it but upon leaving New Zealand I always have great expectations of experiencing the bigger, better and brighter world, under the belief that we are missing out. I always return loaded with guilt that I had such little faith.

A couple of weeks after coming back from the States I had two similarly arty friends come and stay with me in Auckland. For a few days, in a somewhat nerdy pursuit, we drove around the city from one dealer gallery to another, immersing ourselves in the art. What I saw in that short space of time was infinitely more memorable than anything I saw overseas. This led me to patriotically see New Zealand artists as truly at the forefront of artistic creativity on the international scale.

New Zealand’s size constrains the ability of our artists to achieve success without extending their focus to the global arena, with international recognition essential for an artist survive economically.

Also, like seemingly every other facet of our lives, art has become globalised. For example, La Biennale de Venezia is the type of international art event that bloggers go crazy over. Considered by many to be the most prestigious celebration of the visual arts in the world, Creative New Zealand invested $650,000 this year into a pavilion intended to promote Kiwi art, culture and innovation. Known as the “master of light,” a reference to his trademark works created out of fluorescent lightbulbs and milk bottles, Bill Culbert was selected this time around to fill New Zealand’s space, creating eight installations within the old, antiquated walls of the beautiful city of Venice. One is a chandelier constructed from chairs and beaming poles of lights suspended from the roof of a corridor in which Vivaldi once upon a time taught violin.

Met with glowing reviews from newspapers such as the UK’s Sunday Times, which named New Zealand’s pavilion as their favourite, and with the average number of visitors to Culbert’s work per day already at 1,417, New Zealand art is making its mark.

While this week’s piece is not exactly about art within local Dunedin, or the country for that matter, sometimes there is value in considering the biggest picture of all – the importance of New Zealand art’s place in the international arena. The world is taking notice, so add it to your list of reasons for being proud to belong to this fine land – other than having a decent rugby team and a lot of sheep.
This article first appeared in Issue 14, 2013.
Posted 6:05pm Sunday 7th July 2013 by Charlotte Doyle.