We were looking for an outing for my three junior art critics and I had read a good review of a show at the Dowse which made it sound fairly family friendly. So with the co-ordinates of Lower Hutt plugged into the GPS of our rental we were off for a little weekend art adventure ...
The Dowse is about a 20 minute drive north of Wellington. It is a small little regional gallery but despite its size managed to have about 5 different shows on. Top of our list was Scott Eady's '100 Bike Project - Part 1'. Scott has tracked down a heap of old bikes from council tips around the country and then done them up (and in a few cases totally pimped them out). They are all shiny and new looking and it is a great message of consumerism and waste that you look at all these fantastic bikes of varying shapes and sizes and think that they had all been turfed out in their former lives. It is an interactive exhibition so the kids are encouraged to grab a bike and have a ride which all of mine did. You had to use a loaner helmet although we had planned ahead and brought our own (which also avoided the line that formed). Scott had literally put bells and whistles on most of the bikes so it took my art critics a little while to find appropriate rides. Duly installed in the riding ring I was able to take my littlest critic for a gallery walk. Tiffany Singh's collection of wind chimes 'Knock on the Sky and listen to the Sound' is installed here (I had seen bits of part 1 at the Enjoy gallery back in Wellington so nice to complete the experience) and we saw some more Ani O'Neill fabric work. Best other exhibit was the colour spectrum show designed for kids. Top pick here was the Reuben Paterson blue glitter work 'Perrier Jouet'. Yes those champagne label flowers in blue glitter - pretty striking. Next door to this exhibit was a kids craft centre which again kept the troops entertained. Props to the Dowse for having a nice intellectual approach to getting families to come and see art which goes to my own personal thesis that you shouldn't have to dumb it down to get the punters in. A really well put together place - would love to see some NSW councils do something this good.
Points - 3 to Scott Eady. Great work, the kids loved it. Only complaint was that the horns on the trikes were hard to blow as compared to the bells on the bikes. Also a nice little hat tip to iconic American photograher William Eggleston in the promo photos. I was trying to emulate that shot myself of one of the trikes. 2 to Reuben Paterson for more of his great glitter work. I am seeing his stuff everywhere (City Gallery, NZ art magazine cover) and liking it more and more but am afraid to find out what it would cost! 1 to the cafe. An often overlooked part of any gallery outing but the Dowse's offering was top class. Actually the food in Wellington is of a high standard across the board but this place (and the cafe at the City Gallery) puts the AGNSW and MCA in the shade. Honourable mention to the kids collecting thing I read about in their propaganda. If I understood it correctly they get leading NZ artists to do prints and editions and then put them in the room and you pay $65 for your kid to go in and pick out a piece of art. Love it. Hey kids, if there is a sparkly glitter work in there grab it for Daddy!
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