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."
NZ On Screen’s Dunedin Collection offers up the sights and sounds of a city edged by ocean, and famed for its music. Dunedin is a bracing mixture of old and new: of Victorian buildings and waves of fresh-faced students, many of them carrying guitars. As Dave Cull reflects in his introduction, it is a city where distance is no barrier to creativity and innovation.
New Brighton beach in Christchurch: Peter Donnelly is busy creating art, art with a lifespan that can be measured in hours. Using a rake and a piece of wood, Donnelly draws elaborate artworks in the sand - more than 700 of them to date. "I bring something to life, and then its life is over, and at the end of the four hours it wants to go, it's worn out ... it just wants to be gifted, and it goes to the sea." Beautifully shot by director Peter Young, this Artsville documentary captures Donnelly both in action, and musing on the beauty of impermanence.
Featuring artwork by Grammy-nominated Kiwi Sarah Larnach — whose art has been a key feature on Ladyhawke's albums — the music video for My Delirium weaves between reality and a dreamscape where cats dominate the Mount Rushmore sculpture, and Ladyhawke soars through space in a car. The video opens with the singer in a dreary roadside motel, before animated artwork on the wall comes to life, featuring a cartoon Ladyhawke walking out of the motel and hitting the road in a classic convertible. The musician won six Tuis at the 2009 NZ Music Awards.
This Coming Home episode introduces two Kiwi "pioneers in their fields": psychologist John Money and horse expert Wayne McIlwraith. Colorado-based McIlwraith works on top racehorses around the globe, then goes climbing on his rare days off. Money was celebrated and criticised for his game-changing work on gender and sexuality. Returning for a visit downunder, he sets about donating his artworks to a museum in Gore. The episode was made soon after doubts were first raised about the success of Money's most famous case of gender reassignment, David Reimer.
The lyrics detail the intensity of thwarted love, and the accompanying video is a DIY delight — mixing an origami fortune teller concept with back-projected Animalia-style shadow puppets. From the 2008 EP This Machine, this video marked the first collaboration between design studio Special Problems (Campbell Hooper and Joel Kefali) and the band. The fertile partnership would go on to yield multiple music videos (including the breakout promo for ‘Young Blood’), plus the artwork on a number of their releases.
This specially designed light and sound installation was projected onto the facade of the Carillion in Wellington's Pukeahu Park in 2016 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of WWI. Archival material, like photographs and excerpts from letters, mix with original artwork inspired by natural imagery, and Māori and Pacific motifs, to tell Kiwi stories from the frontline. Among them are the HMS New Zealand's involvement in the Battle of Jutland, and important work by Kiwi tunnellers. This version is slightly expanded from the original 2015 film.
Early standard bearers for the Flying Nun label, The Clean ended their first incarnation with this abrasive, rollicking, darkly-humoured take on the aging process (featuring backing vocals from Chris Knox and some Robert Scott trumpet). Ronnie van Hout, who designed much of the label's early artwork, turned his hand at directing for this clip. Without a budget, he utilised the Christchurch service lanes and aging inner city buildings which housed so many of the local music industry's bars, clubs and rehearsal rooms (and a succession of early Flying Nun offices).
The format for New Artland was to film a leading Kiwi artist devising an artwork, in collaboration with a community that they have some kind of bond with. In this episode host Chris Knox meets Karl Maughan, known for his vibrant paintings of garden flowers. Maughan returns to Palmerston North's Freyberg High School (where he was encouraged to enrol at Elam School of Art) and enlists 20 students over a week to make a 30 metre long mural. He explains why rhododendrons are his main subject, and gets permission from the principal to help the kids graffiti the art block.
This episode of Sticky Pictures' show "about creative people, made by creative people" is hosted by TrinityRoots singer Warren Maxwell. Dominic Hoey (aka MC Tourettes) charts his journey from drumming in "really shitty" punk bands as a teen, to being published in national poetry journal Landfall; artist Liyen Chong talks to Ross Liew about her Malaysian heritage, and its influence on her intricate, complex artwork (including miniature prints made from hair); and the show joins animal-rights activist turned stencil artist Pete Howard on a late night postering mission.