19 May 2024

Arts news: A Rita Angus bridge, controversial portraits & the book awards

From Culture 101, 3:05 pm on 19 May 2024
The Arts Centre bridge

The Arts Centre bridge Photo: Ian Hutchinson

A colourful new air bridge that cleverly connects two parts of the historic Christchurch Arts Centre has been given a special citation at the New Zealand Institute of Architects national awards this month. 

The Arts Centre Bridge has a coloured glass facade inspired by Rita Angus’ iconic painting Cass. 

The bridge was created by Warren and Mahoney. 

This month, a beloved and key Kai Tahu figure in the arts, Rua McCallum hasdied. 

The playwright, poet, weaver, composer, and knowledge holder of southern mātauraka, has had a long commitment to arts and heritage in Ōtepoti Dunedin. 

McCallum was a Toitu Otago Settlers Museum Māori liaison, director of Ruaimoko Productions and a PhD Candidate in Māori Studies. 

She produced and collaborated on many significant theatre productions in Ōtepoti.

Wellington-based author Emily Perkins won the $65,000 Jann Medlicott Acorn Prize for Fiction for her novel Lioness at the Ockham New Zealand Book Awards on Wednesday night.

Gregory O’Brien took out the Booksellers Aotearoa New Zealand Award for Illustrated Non-Fiction for his book on painter Don Binney: Flight Path.

Melbourne-based Grace Yee won the Mary and Peter Biggs Award for Poetry for Chinese Fish, three months after her collection also won the $100,000 Victorian Prize for Literature.

Among the other prizes were first book awards for Emma Hislop, Megan Kitching, Ryan Bodman and Emma Wehipeihana.

After 20 years, the chair of Whanau Marama - the New Zealand International Film Festival, Catherine Fitzgerald - has stepped down. 

Kaine Thompson, who joined the board in April last year is the new chair. Thompson also serves on the board of the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra. 

Thompson acknowledges Fitzgerald has seen the organisation through a difficult time, with the last three years bringing “the festival to the brink.” 

Earlier this year a raft of festival programmers left the festival, and a new artistic director Paolo Bertolin was announced. The festival is set to take place from 31st July in 10 centres, with venues reduced from last year.  An initial 10 films over 10 thematic strands from the programme have just been announced.

On the same day, Doc Edge Festival announced its 2024 programme for June and July. This year, the international documentary festival is in Christchurch for the first time before heading to Wellington, Auckland and online streaming.

An official song for the World Choir Games in July has been launched. 

Written by Don McGlashan and Hana Mereraiha, 'Te Taukaea Tangata – Breathing in, breathing out' is sung with Marlon Williams, Tauranga Mayoralty candidate Ria Hall and members of Viva Voce. 

The song will be shared with the choral community around the world and will play at the Olympics-style opening ceremony on 10 July.

Finally this week….

The first official painting of King Charles the Third since the coronation has been unveiled this week in Britain. 

The intense and large fiery red painting by Jonathan Yeo, was commissioned to commemorate the monarch marking 50 years as a member of the historic The Draper's Company in 2022. 

It features the King in the uniform of the Welsh Guards. 

The portrait has been met with a mixed critical response. While Guardian critic Jonathan Jones called it a “masterpiece of shallowness” - New Zealand portrait painter Tatyana Kulida this week on RNZ described it as “too much artist, too little Charles”.   

Artist Vincent Namatijira with 'Australia in Colour'

Artist Vincent Namatijira with 'Australia in Colour' Photo: supplied

Staying with portraits - Australian mining magnate, Gina Rinehart is demanding The National Gallery of Australia remove her portrait from an exhibition.

The image - arguably an unflattering one - is by award-winning indigenous artist Vincent Namatijira, and sits alongside Queen Elizabeth II and footballer Adam Goodes. 

It’s one of 21 portraits that make up an artwork 'Australia in Colour' which the gallery acquired in 2022. 

Since it was put on display, the National Gallery has received a dozen complaints about the painting - with one claiming the gallery was “doing the bidding of the Chinese Communist Party". 

But the National Gallery says the portrait will remain up until July 21, and it won't be swayed by individuals' opinions.

Artist Vincent Namatijira has also responded saying, “I paint the world as I see it. People don’t have to like my paintings, but I hope they take the time to look and think.”