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Painting in an Empty Land

Short Film, 1981 (Full Length)

David Sims' impressionistic National Film Unit short film explores the responses of four NZ painters to a landscape illuminated by a distinctive light, but yet to feel the full impact of human settlement. The award-winning film examines Brent Wong’s floating architectural shapes, Colin McCahon’s religious symbolism, Toss Wollaston’s earth-hued palette and Michael Smither’s hard-edged realism. Their works are taken from safe gallery confines and moved closer to their subject matter, while the words of writers (Katherine Mansfield, Charles Brasch, Bill Pearson) provide another angle.

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The Gravy - Series Four, Episode 12 (Paint)

Television, 2009 (Full Length Episode)

This fourth season edition of the award-winning arts series is all about paint. Host Ross Liew meets three artists who are exploring the medium's expressive possibilities in diverse ways: Ally Maher uses paint to portray corrosion, patina and the breaking down of surfaces; he reveals the work he did on the now-scuppered vessel Manuia for Peter Jackson’s King Kong. Helen Calder uses gravity, coaxing paint off the surface to make new shapes and Glenn Burrell encases objects in paint to form a skin and removes the original object, leaving a paint replica.

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The Painted Lady

Short Film, 2000 (Full Length)

This short film follows a five-year-old child (Elizabeth Morris), after her mother's paranoid delusions reach breaking point and she is put in a mental hospital. Writer/director Belinda Schmid's aim was to show how children can respond to situations partly without emotional upset, "because we have no other measure for the ways things are supposed to be, and partly by coping in ways that help us survive at the time". Jennifer Ward-Lealand plays the mother. Nominated for Best Short at the 2000 NZ Film Awards, The Painted Lady was invited to a number of international film festivals.

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Betty Banned Sweets

Short Film, 2008 (Full Length)

Benjamin (Matt Scheurich) lives at home with his Mum, but the 23-year-old dreams of escaping the nest for some overseas experience. Pondering the question ‘should I stay or should I go?’, he retreats to his studio to create intricate shoebox dioramas of his destinations. Meanwhile Mum plans an (unwanted) birthday party for him. Director Michelle Savill made the film as part of a Film Studies course at Wintec in Hamilton. The quirky take on the yearning to leave — and the fear of being left behind — was selected for 20 film festivals, including Rotterdam and Clermont-Ferrand.

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Velvet Dreams

Television, 1997 (Full Length)

A homage to Dusky Maiden images as well as a playful take on the low art of velvet painting, Sima Urale’s Velvet Dreams provides a tongue-in-cheek exploration of Pacific Island stereotypes. Part detective story, part documentary, an unseen narrator goes in search of a painting of a Polynesian princess that he has fallen in love with. Along the way he meets artists, fans and critics of the kitsch art genre, as well as the mysterious Gauguin-like figure of Charlie McPhee. Made for TVNZ's Work of Art series, Velvet Dreams played in multiple international film festivals.

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Reflections - Gretchen Albrecht

Television, 2006 (Full Length)

From the late 1980s, Gretchen Albrecht's richly-coloured large abstract paintings made her reputation in New Zealand. This documentary (made for TV One's Artsville series) traces the development of Albrecht's work from her art school years, through to a developing interest in sculpture. Interspersed with commentary from family, collectors, writers, and art historians, Albretcht discusses her life, and the ideas and influences that inform her work. In the studio, her working methods are revealed as she is capturing creating new work.

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Lovely Rita

Television, 2007 (Excerpts)

An affectionate documentary about painter Rita Angus. Angus was well known for her enigmatic self portraits, and this Gaylene Preston-directed documentary explores the relationship between the work and biography. It gathers together new material about Angus's life, as well as interviews with a group of friends who knew her, and a new generation of appreciators including biographer Jill Trevelyan. Many of her paintings are also featured, evocatively shot by Alun Bollinger; actress Loren Horsley captures an uncanny likeness as a young Angus. 

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Questions for Mr Reynolds

Television, 2007 (Excerpts)

John Reynolds is one of New Zealand's most talked-about contemporary artists. His diverse practice takes in painting, photography, clothing, tattooing and landscaping. Director Shirley Horrocks frames the film as a series of questions. The answers reflect Reynold's exuberant personality, his strong family life, his sense of humour, and his adventurous art-making. Following a year in his life, the film observes him as he makes and debuts a work (Cloud) at the 2006 Biennale of Sydney, and takes time out to appear in an episode of bro'Town.

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The Big Art Trip - Series Two, Episode Two

Television, 2001 (Full Length Episode)

In Episode Two of this series of The Big Art Trip, hosts Douglas Lloyd-Jenkins and Fiona McDonald visit the Grey Lynn home of painter Jacqueline Fahey and the downtown studio of photographer and rocketeer Yuk King Tan. Next they drive west to Laingholm and meet singer/songwriter Victoria (Taus) Girling-Butcher and her band Lucid 3. Then it’s back to Grey Lynn to meet artist John Reynolds and his oil stick paintings, and into the city to see the iconic Bushells sign and meet photographer Natalie Robertson, who is shooting a collection of NZ tea towels.

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Gordon Crook: A Life of Art

Film, 2010 (Excerpts)

Wellington artist Gordon Crook was known for his bold, colourful prints and tapestries. In this documentary, director Clare O’Leary mixes Crook’s biography (from UK foster care to London Central School of Art lecturer, then decades in Wellington) and interviews with Crook, dealers, students and mates. In this excerpt Crook discusses his work, and collaborating with weaver Lesley Nicholls; and friend Edith Ryan recalls first seeing Crook’s massive Michael Fowler Centre banners. The documentary premiered at the 2010 NZ Film Festival. Crook died in August 2011, aged 89.