Friday, October 30, 2009
  Jewelry as performance art
NZ Herald October 24

I'm killing off Cook & Co," says jeweller Octavia Cook. That's not definite, hence the title of the show. Cook added the "& Co" tag at her first show at Anna Miles in 2005, part of the process of staking out territory in the world of art.

"It was born of a need to make more than just jewellery. It brings my family into it. It started off as my version of Tiffany & Co, a humble, no-frills version, but it has grown and expanded with every show," she says.

Two photographs made to accompany specific works show Cook picking up on the performance aspect of wearing an eye-catching piece of jewellery and turning it into performance art.

In one, she is seated in a chair in the corner of her parents' Pakuranga living room, which has been augmented by items like royal portraits added to things Cook grew up with.

A photo within the photo shows the interior of a maharajah's palace with an octagonal table with a mirror top, the model for the table Cook's pieces are displayed on.

"Mine is more a customised barbecue table," she says, picking up the theme of the shady cousin with aspirations to grandeur.


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  John Walsh at John Leech
NZ Herald September 19

The figure lounges on a couch, arms thrown back, chest thrust out, feet entwined in front of its crotch.

It's not overtly threatening, but it's not to be trusted either.

The painting is loosely based on a pare, a door lintel, an idea artist John Walsh been playing with for several years.

"Every time I take it on it seems to be looking less and less like a formal pare and taking on other forms."

Pare to My Place was done while Walsh was in Xiamen, China earlier this year as part of a sister city exchange with Wellington.

"We had to produce some work over there and we didn't have a lot of time. I knew the format of these pare, so I flew into that, and the idea was of having to go through this pare and this guy, who is not quite menacing, but he certainly gets your attention, to get to the landscape and the little house on the hill.

"I didn't want to spook (the viewer) but I wanted them to feel you had to puzzle your way through this guy to get beyond him."

Walsh operates in a territory which combines a painterly take on New Zealand light and landscape with Maori signifiers.

It's territory which has to be navigated with care. Slapping a tiki on the canvas won't save a bad painting, and loaded ideas can go off in unexpected and unwelcome ways, or fail to fire completely.

  The power of observation
NZ Herald: Saturday Oct 10, 2009

Marti Friedlander calls the new book by art historian Leonard Bell on her life's work a love story.

"Leonard Bell decided he wanted to write about my photography and I feel it's a gift to me to have someone write about my work with such understanding. In a way it's a kind of love story. One feels very touched by that. It's beautifully written."

There's another love story, too, the one that got a free-spirited Londoner to New Zealand half a century ago.

Gerrard Friedlander is sitting at a nearby table in the Parnell cafe where I meet the photographer, perhaps in case she wants to abort the interview - he leaves only after she's gone. She quizzed me about why I want to write about her, and then agreed to answer questions.

"Why does one need to expose oneself?" asks the woman whose images strip away psychological layers from her subjects.

I suggest that she's an interesting photographer because of the way she has put herself in all sorts of extraordinary situations.

An online possie for Adam Gifford, a New Zealand journalist specialising in information technology, Maori news and the arts.

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