Choi Jeong Hwa Flower Chandelier

Y’all know I’m a gallery ghost, so what was a trip home without a visit to the Auckland Art Galley. It may not be as grand or old as some of the European galleries, but somehow walking through those doors just feels like home.

The gallery was expanded a few years ago, where they managed to combine the existing colonial building with a modern glass structure. It means that from almost every room you get glimpses of the lush green park that the gallery backs on to. Nowhere else have I seen a gallery with such indoor outdoor flow, although that gap just matches the kiwi psychology which values nature just as much as art.

Auckland Art Gallery

Oh and there was some art as well! I will always love the giant inflatable flower sculpture by Choi Jeong Hwa that hangs from the ceiling like a Disney chandelier (above).

But even better than the art and the architecture is the branding. In every piece of signage, in every flag and information leaflet there is art. Literally. They have highlighted art in every message about the place, I love such a simple and effective piece of branding.

Superman Peter Gibson Smith

My trip to New Zealand wasn’t all about cafes*, I also went to the Wallace Collection. The Wallace collection is a private collection by Sir James Wallace that has been put on display in the beautiful surroundings of the Pah Homestead. Wallace has so far managed to accumulate over 5000 works of art , so it is an incredible gift that they are now available for the public to view. Europe and America might be more familiar with this type of large scale public donation, but for Kiwi Land it is sadly quite rare.

Now here is where the runawaykiwi awkwardness shines through. When I rocked up to the Wallace Collection the car park seemed slightly empty. And then when I walked through the doors I was greeted with the bird like cacophony of 30 high society ladies drinking champagne. Nothing will stop me when there is the smell of art in the air, so I used my most advanced secret spy manoeuvres to get through the group and start my gallery haunting.

So turns out that the gallery is closed on Mondays and this group of chattering grandmothers had actually hired it out for a private function. Oops.

But when in Rome. I hussled through, one room ahead of them at all times and managed to get my art fill before running the hell out of there before I got told off or my cheeked pinched. My favourite couple of pieces this visit (the collection is rotated regularly so you never see the same thing twice) were the massive Superman head at the top of the staircase and the stunning charcoal drawings.

Ringmaster by Lorene Taurerewa

Superman by Peter Gibson Smith looked just like a fallen Greek statue that had somehow found its way to Auckland. Even if it was made out of the slightly less expensive version of marble (paper and wax), it had serious impact and just had a really pleasing and touchable form to it (don’t worry, I may be a rule breaker but I don’t touch art!). The charcoal drawings were a complete surprise, I haven’t actually seen any in that material that were not only appealing but also looked finished. But these large scale creepy circus drawings by Lorene Taurerewa were frighteningly perfect and intriguing… I am totally open to one as a Christmas present from any of my millionaire suitors.

If you are in the neighborhood I would recommend swinging by the Wallace Collection. When it is not inhabited by champagne swigging grannies it is a really nonthreatening way to view contemporary art, hell you can just go for the architecture and surrounding park if you really want to. I am endlessly grateful that this gallery is now part of the Auckland art scene, thanks Mr Wallace.

*complete lie! It was totally all about cafes and will be back to cafe adventures tomorrow!

Tate Tour

I really like when art galleries do something innovative. Its all too easy to disregard art as boring and old (and thats coming from a card carrying culture vulture), so anything that renovates this image is a good thing. Tate Modern has done something really clever, they are running Twitter tours of their main exhibitions.

The most recent was for Lichtenstein: A Retrospective. Co-curator Iria Candela walked through the exhibition from start to finish, and tweeted her thoughts from every room. You could follow her tweets on @tate, and then see the discussion using #tatetour. A very simple concept, but one that ticks all the innovative boxes.

First up it brings art to the people, I found out about the #tatetour by looking at my twitter feed. Simple. No effort.

But more than that it takes the overwhelming world of art/art history and breaks it down into tweet sized chunks. It entices the reader to take the next step and go and visit the exhibition itself.

All this for very little cost to Tate – just have to teach a curator to use twitter and have at it.

Anna Parkina

Phew, end of the three day Saatchi marathon – like the London marathon but with less sweat. Time for this fabulous sculpture by Anna Parkina.

I’m not sure why I like ‘on a swallows wing’ but I really do. A different perspective from every angle and some subtle hints of blue.

The funniest bit is that it looks like it should be useful (this may be the IKEA colour scheme). I walked round it four times trying to see if I could store magazines, balance my iPad or rest my cup of tea. But like most art it refused to have any practical purpose.

As sculptures go this is one of the ‘nice’ ones. Not shocking or overpowering, but still a reasonable size and intriguing to look at.

And from certain angles it looks like a baby elephant.

Valery Koshlyakov

For day 2 of Saatchi art we are marching straight ahead, through reception, and going to the very back room. Behold, the mastery of Valery Koshlyakov and her amazing abstract paintings of Paris.

They are just the right amount of detail to be able to pick out the location – Paris the city of my heart. The Opera House (above) is painted onto brown cardboard boxes, some flat and some almost peeling off. I’m not too sure what it means in terms of longevity/conservation (would they disintegrate at the merest hint of moisture?), but as a visual trick it ticks all the um… boxes.

The colours are pretty ideal too. In my mind Paris is all about  hushed and muted tones, just shy of pastel, and these paintings mimic it perfectly. What stops the pallet becoming to insipid (particularly above) is the play of shadows from the overhanging boxes, which may be why I think it is slightly stronger then the Notre Dame painting below.

Although, everyone know flying buttresses are a girls best friend…

Valery Koshlyakov