See It for Yourself
The best way to make up your mind is with your own eyes.
Last Friday night we opened Solo 2014: Five Wellington Artists and the mood was friendly and fun so it’s been a come down to read the negative comments garnered in the DomPost this week, including this editorial by Rosemary McLeod.
I wanted to pick up on the point about craft in that piece. Here at The Dowse, we strive to present a programme that mixes the best and most exciting of art and contemporary craft. The past three years in particular have seen a conscious reaffirmation of our strong and proud history in supporting craft and applied art.
We’ve hosted many a touring show, including jeweller Kobi Bosshard’s beautiful survey show from Objectspace, the New Zealand Fashion Museum’s tribute to the home sewing revolution in New Zealand ‘Home Sewn’, and the Goethe Institut’s international touring show of contemporary genre-warping design, ‘New Olds’.
We’ve brought out gems in our collections - The Dowse Banners, large textile works commissioned for our 10th birthday; textile artist Malcolm Harrison’s beloved ‘The Family’; and a behind-the-scenes peek at how we store our extraordinary ceramics collection in ‘The Cabinets’.
We’ve explored the ever-shifting lines between ‘art’ and craft’ in shows like 'Man Made', focused on male artists working in many different ways with textiles, and ‘Slip Cast’, an extensive survey of more than 25 artists working with clay, including rarely-seen works from the collection alongside borrowed pieces and new acquisitions.
We’ve mounted large and ambitious shows. The wildly popular exhibition of Coromandel potter Barry Brickell’s work was accompanied by a substantial publication and is currently out on its four-venue, two-year tour of New Zealand. At the start of the year we painstakingly packed up hundreds of pieces of contemporary New Zealand jewellery and sent them to Munich as ‘Wunderruma’; in May we brought the show, the largest ever assembly of New Zealand jewellery, back to Lower Hutt. We’re now preparing it for a tour to Auckland and Dunedin.
Right now, as I look out of my office window, I can see a dramatic new jewellery installation by Moniek Schrijer, who grew up here in Lower Hutt and graduated recently from Whitireia Polytechnic. Upstairs, we have a tribute to Roy Cowan and Juliet Peter - a story about two artists/potters who made a life and a living of their craft for decades here in Wellington. That show finishes on 2 November, making way for another show from the New Zealand Fashion Museum, ‘Age of Aquarius’, a celebration of 1970s New Zealand fashion design.
To adopt a sporting metaphor, the best place to meet our critics is on the playing field: through our exhibitions, events, and education programmes. We welcome everyone to visit us at The Dowse, and make their own judgements (and discoveries!).
You might like to visit us next week, when we’ll be screening MFA student Johanna Mechen’s video work about the ecology and history of the Waiwhetu Stream, and hosting Japanese master ceramicist Takeshi Yasuda for a free evening talk.
Or maybe the following week will be more to your fancy: it includes a screening of the documentary about notorious Christchurch underground band Into the Void as well as a live performance, but also a visit to artist Elizabeth Thomson’s studio.
Or get out your best polyester and join us in three weeks’ time for a weekend of fashion-fabulosity for the opening of Age of Aquarius: a dress-up opening party, a fabric-swap fundraiser for Te Omanga Hospice, and a talk by Fashion Museum curator Doris de Pont.
So - visit. Look. Enjoy! Tell us what YOU think. I look forward to hearing from you.