Monday, 14 January 2008

While in Wanganui

Wanganui. It used to be 'well worth the journey' but now it's 'welcome home'. Yup.

In the weekend an article by Grant Smithies on NZ's river city noted that although a "long-overdue upgrade was quashed by an unsympathetic council, much to the disgust of the local artistic community, ... the Sarjeant Art Gallery on Queens Park hill remains the most beautiful art gallery in the country, with the kind of sharp curation normally found in major metropolitan galleries."

Visiting the gallery before Christmas, I was taken aback by the sheer amount of work that solo curator Greg Donson churns out. There are currently six shows or installations up, and the gallery felt a bit crammed, but exciting.

The highlight for me was Joanna Langford's soaring, complicated installation in the dome space - one of the best I've seen there. (Apologies for the crappy image, it's the best available on the Sarjeant's site).

The lowlight was possibly the 'Woodwork' show, which gave a nook or two's space to five artists: Regan Gentry, Warren Viscoe, Glen Hayward, Harry Watson and Ben Pearce. Brought together under the premise that they all work with the same material, although in different ways, the presentation somehow flattened out the differences between each artist's work.

Matt Couper's show 'The Museum of Inherent Vice' sprawled and scrawled its way through the end gallery. It's interesting to wonder if impolite art has some trouble with the Sarjeant's genteel spaces. Both Couper's and Langford's works resulted from their residencies at Tylee Cottage last year, which I guess goes to show that the council hasn't suceeded in ruining everything yet.

Image: Joanna Langford, Down from the nightlands, 2007.

No comments: