Wellington again? The team here at Big Lamington couldn't make it up to Auckland for their art fair but another fairly cold week in Wellington had its bright side when we ventured out one sunny lunchtime to check out what the self appointed "coolest little capital in the world" has to offer the art lover.
First up was Bowen Gallery on Ghuznee street. This was recommended to me by a gallerina in Sydney so I was eager to check out its wares. I was actually happy that they had a stock room show ("Stuff Up") on as it enabled me to check out a few of the gallery artists. And it was an interesting collection. I liked the photos of Ans Westra - striking image but I'm not sure I'd be slapping down 7000 kiwi for an edition, even if she is meant to be a living kiwi treasure. Top pick for me was probably Bekah Carran whose hanging sculptures were very cool and 4,800 kiwi. Just next door and up some stairs is Hamish McKay gallery. The title of the show was promising, International Velvet. I love velvet paintings, and am still kicking myself for not picking up a Tony Albert velvet a few years back. But Julian Dashpar's aren't your grandfathers velvets. His are all very abstract, and from the 80s so wear was beginning to show (and who says contemporary art practice neglects the conservation angle!). Judging by the 2 page scholarly essay accompanying the show Julian is kind of a big deal around the kiwi art scene. Based on this evidence I will just have to believe them. Third stop was Suite Gallery, and a quirkier little space you will be hard pressed to find. Just round the corner on Cuba street you walk into an old building that seriously looks as thought the squatters are still in residency of and go up 2 rickety flights of stairs until you come to a bright little white room. Their current show is Arie Hellendoorn's Inward / Outward and I really liked this. Arie's style is to do rather simple portraits and substitute the head for something a little different - all colourful shapes. There are also a few head drawings that suggest some old medical illustrations. They have even got a couple of these works over at the pop up space on Oriental Parade that I admired on my morning jog (I run slow enough to take in the art, but that is more from level of fitness rather than a dedication to aesthetic appreciation). Something for everyone here price wise, watercolours for 2,900 and oils or acylics for double that (5,800 kiwi) - lots of red dots so the punters agreed with that strategy. On the way out I popped my head into Enjoy which is a public art space on the first floor which has appropriated the red and white livery of a well known cola brand for their logo - and it is a good look, reminds me of some t-shirts we did for my rugby club back in the day. Here they had a solo work by Tiffany Singh which was a big mandala thingy on the floor made with rice and then originally a number of wind chimes that had been signed out by viewers on the promise to deliver to another museum an hour away. Nice touch.
Points - 3 to Suite, interesting space and best show of the day. 2 to Bowen gallery, looks promising and 1 to Hamish and Enjoy. It was great that there is no more than 50 metres separating 4 good galleries. It was nearly like being at an art fair ... nearly.