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Artists on Screen Collection

Curated by Mark Amery
6th July 2011

 Artists on Screen Collection

Artists on Screen Collection

 Mark Amery

Curated by Mark Amery


I was framed

For this screen showcase of NZ visual arts talent, critic Mark Amery selects his top documentaries profiling artists. From the icons (Hotere, McCahon, Lye) to the unheralded (Edith Collier) to Takis the Greek, each portrait shines light on the person behind the canvas. "Naturally inquisitive, with an open wonder about the world, they make for inspiring onscreen company."


Artists on Screen

 Ralph Hotere

This Sam Pillsbury-directed film is framed around the execution of a large Ralph Hotere mural. Interviews with friends, critics, officials and dealers, are intercut with fascinating shots of Hotere working. Mark Amery: “arguably the finest documentary of an artist I’ve seen”.

 Colin McCahon: I Am

This documentary looks at the life and work of New Zealand's most celebrated painter. Directed by Paul Swadel, it won Best Documentary at the 2005 Qantas Awards. Amery: “A collage of wide-ranging biographical research, historical footage, and Leon Narbey’s brooding landscape camerawork”. 

 Reflections - Gretchen Albrecht

Gretchen Albrecht's richly-coloured large abstract paintings made her reputation from the late 80s. This film traces the development of her work from art school through to her interest in sculpture. Amery: “Anyone wanting to get re-charged about the power of painting need only watch [Reflections].”

 Edith Collier: A Light Among Shadows

“An underrated doco of an underrated artist”, this Michael Heath film is a poignant biography of the (curtailed) artistic life of painter Edith Collier. Amery: “Aside from the undulating Wanganui landscape, the stars of this documentary are the paintings. Work after work reveals an enormous talent.”

 Flip & Two Twisters

This documentary looks at the exuberant life and work (from scratch film to kinetic sculpture) of motion maestro Len Lye. Amery: “The film ends with some extraordinary footage by Leon Narbey of the artwork named in the title in operation. Even on celluloid [...] it takes your breath away.”

 Peter Peryer: Portrait of a Photographer

“[Director Greg] Stitt takes us out on location with the artist [photographer Peter Peryer] to understand his thinking. The opening black and white scene, with its 360-degree camerawork of ‘photographer as cattle stalker’ is a classic Kiwi homage to the artist’s process, and to film and photography itself.”

 Pacific Ikon

Stewart Main talks to artist Pat Hanly about his life. “While many artist portraits step around family respectfully to maintain privacy Hanly’s whanāu are centre frame. [...] As great as so much of the painting is, the film is powerful because it is such an honest heartfelt portrait of a family.”

 Questions for Mr Reynolds

Following a year in artist John Reynolds' life, this Shirley Horrocks doco observes him as he makes and debuts a work (Cloud) at the 2006 Biennale of Sydney. The ‘answers’ to the doco’s questions reflect Reynold's exuberant personality, his strong family life, and his adventurous art-making.

 The Man in the Hat

This documentary is a portrait of legendary Wellington art-dealer Peter McLeavey, who has spent over 40 years running his influential Cuba St gallery. The Luit Bieringa-directed, Leon Narbey-shot film is powered by a “passionate yet stately performance of his occupation by McLeavey.”

 The Sound of Seeing

Made on a wind-up Bolex camera, by 21-year-old filmmaker Tony Williams this is a singular local contribution to the 60s art film genre. “An adventurous piece of filmmaking and a fascinating cultural snapshot of Wellington on the eve of huge cultural shifts.” Bearded beats, jiving jazz and more! 

 Takis Unlimited

This BBC2-screened film is a look at the European art world of the late 60s, focusing on Greek artist Takis. “[Tony] Williams’ editing reflects the artist’s playfulness with flashing, magnetic and oscillating mechanical forms, and the buzzy social scene around him as art broke free of the pedestal.”

The curator's calls

The curator's calls

“[Some say that] visual art doesn’t make for good film or television. Nonsense! I’m sure they once said the same about sport.” Read more >

"Artists not only do interesting things ...

... with the material around us, they lead interesting lives.” Is there a screen portrait of an artist you'd like to see onsite? Email us >