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."
This documentary focusses on six New Zealand women artists whose careers were on the rise in the early 1990s. They work in a variety of mediums, explore ambiguity and subversion, and question gender roles. Photographer Christine Webster works with models, lighting and costume to create rich, theatrical images. Lisa Reihana delivers "radical statements" via light-hearted animation. Filmmaker Alison Maclean talks about the inspiration she found in Rotorua and channelled into her debut feature Crush. Also featured: artists Merylyn Tweedie, Alexis Hunter and Julia Morison.
Before he was an acclaimed cinematographer, Leon Narbey was another kind of artist. Narbey shot this film to document Real Time, an immersive light and sound installation he created for the opening of New Plymouth's Govett-Brewster Art Gallery in 1970. Real Time took over the entire gallery: viewers entered an altered landscape of glittering materials, neon flashes and an industrial soundtrack triggered by the movements of the crowd. The film opens with quickfire shots of the official opening ceremony, before the camera enters a new and strange world of sensory thrills.
New Zealand art has become a financial as well as emotional investment. In this documentary, director Shirley Horrocks talks to local art collectors, dealers and auctioneers about the market for original New Zealand artwork. Teacher Jim Fraser lives a modest life, putting all his passion into owning original art. Wellington couple Les and Milly Paris have gradually accrued a significant and valuable art collection, but their motivation has always been emotional. This feeling is shared by wealthier collectors, like arts patron (and film producer) James Wallace.
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.
Mediarena was an exhibition of contemporary art from Japan on show in New Plymouth in 2004. Held at the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, it showcased 17 artists and a video installation. Hosts Serena Bentley and Yuri Kinugawa travel to Taranaki for the Artsville series and find out how artists are transforming and subverting traditional images and ideas and bringing them into a contemporary form. Themes include female subservience in Japanese society, celebrity culture, the commuter experience, genetic modification and ecological sustainability.
In this documentary, artist Helen Pollock discusses her sculpture Falls the Shadow. Using clay from the Coromandel and the Passchendaele (Netherlands) battlefield, she created a grove of arms reaching up against a background of trees stripped bare by gunfire in World War I. The work was inspired by her father, a wartime signaller. Pollock discusses her installation and the effect of combat on New Zealand troops in the war (846 Kiwis died in two hours during the 1917 battle of Passchendaele). The work is now on permanent display at Passchendaele Memorial Museum.
Fetus Productions' nine-year existence from their birth in 1980 was marked by forays into experimental film, multi-media art and fashion. The "audio visual performance group", whose original line-up included Jed Town, Sarah Fort and Mike Brookfield, memorably screened medical films during their gigs. In 2002, fans were treated to Fetus Reproductions at Auckland's Artspace, in which Town produced a video installation revisiting the group's early work.
Kirsty Cameron started in short film and art installation, before costume designing the first of around 20 feature films — including the acclaimed Whale Rider, Slow West, and No. 2. Her list of awards also includes The Orator and TV movie Jean, about aviator Jean Batten. Cameron's third short as writer/ director, teen fable The Lethal Innocents, was invited to festivals in Sweden, Germany and the USA.
Flip & Two Twisters is Shirley Horrocks' documentary about New Zealand-born artist Len Lye. Motion maestro Lye's international reputation rests on his work as a filmmaker and kinetic sculptor, and his lively contributions to the London and New York avant-garde. The documentary explores Lye's career and ideas, with the help of historical footage and excerpts from his films. It includes footage of Lye in typically exuberant form outlining his process, introduces many of his kinetic works, and documents how some of his most ambitious plans are being realised in New Zealand.