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This week on Standing Room Only, a number of stories about - and inspired by - Auckland Art Fair. British artist Faisal Abdu'Allah sets up a live hair salon in the city's CBD to confront questions of race and community, while giving haircuts. We ask three top dealers for their opinion of the 2019 Fair, including bthe veteran John Gow.

Popular Australian sculptor Patricia Piccinini talks about her endearing hybrid monster companions, while expat Kiwi comic-book artist Roger Langridge looks back on a life with the Muppets, Marvel and Judge Dredd.  And a new film about the art of movie posters - why were the artists often the best-kept secrets in Hollywood?

Meanwhile, the Privacy Commission have turned to so-called "outsider artists" to get their message across, the Classic comedy venue boss Scott Blanks does his annual stint on the Laugh Track with some highlight acts in the upcoming Comedy Festival.  And two poets - from New Zealand, Nikki-Lee Birdsey and from Ireland, Caoilinn Hughes.

All this plus the Three O'Clock Drama, At The Movies with Dan Slevin and another episode of My Heels are Killing Me with Sonia Sly.



12:30 Faisal Abdu'Allah, artist - and barber!

Faisal Abdu'Allah is a University Professor, a barber, a performance artist, photographer, documentary maker and sculptor. That's not the whole story but it gives you a sense of this artist who's earned international respect for his work.

Te Tuhi gallery has invited Faisal to Auckland to perform a popular work called Live Salon that's also been seen at the Tate Gallery in London.

He's set up his "salon" in Auckland's CBD, and has invited the public to discuss and debate the challenging questions of race, belonging and community that shape his work - while cutting their hair in his barber chair. Lynn Freeman asks him to share his own thoughts on the subjects.


12:48 Privacy Commissioner John Edwards uses art to make a point

The Privacy Commission has turned to an art space for people living on the margins of society to help raise awareness of the issue of personal privacy.

Commissioner John Edwards is working with Vincents Art Workshop and its artists on an exhibition to promote Privacy Week 2019

Vincents artists have created works with the theme of Hidden In Plain Sight.   They look at how to safeguard our privacy in an age where personal information is collected, traded and sold - often without the consent of the individual.

John had an association with Vincents before taking up the Commissioner's role and wanted to find a way to harness the artists' perspective on privacy to help spread the word.  Lynn Freeman talks with John Edwards and with one of the artists, Hilary Staples.

The exhibition Hidden In Plain Sight opens on May 8 at Vincents Art Workshop in Wellington.

1:10 At The Movies

Dan Slevin reviews Red Joan, Missing Link and the New Zealand documentary Soliders without guns.

1:33 Comics artist Roger Langridge shares a colourful life

Drawing for comics that included Judge Dredd, Marvel Monsters and The Muppet Show are some of the highlights on the CV of expat Roger Langridge.

He's coming home from London to take part in ComicFest 2019 in Wellington, joining a panel about the growing interest in comics created for children and young people.

ComicFest 2019 opens in Wellington on May 2, and the gathering of cartoonists includes big names in the busy New Zealand scene such as Dylan Horrocks, Sarah Laing and Toby Morris

Lynn Freeman took Roger Langridge back to his childhood to find out if that's when he got hooked on comics:

1:46 Patricia Piccini - taking sculpture around the world

Melbourne artist Patricia Piccinini is one of Australasia's most popular contemporary artists.  In 2016 the tour of one of her exhibitions in Brazil attracted more than one million visitors.

Patricia's strange, poignant but endearingly lifelike silicon sculptures that show man-made, hybrid monsters becoming human companions have captivated the public worldwide.  

Patricia had a survey in Wellington back in 2006, but now The Vivian, a small Matakana-based gallery, is about to exhibit four of her works, as part of Auckland's Art Fair.

Mark Amery spoke with Patricia in Melbourne, and asked about these sculptures, suggesting that unlike her well-known human-friendly works, they seem tougher and more enigmatic  :

2:06 The Laugh Track - Scott Blanks

Scott Blanks

Scott Blanks Photo: supplied

It's that time of the year when we're allowed to take a break for a while, and the word goes out: "Send in the clowns".  In other words, it's almost time for the annual New Zealand International Comedy Festival.

Dozens of comedians of all shapes, sizes and nationalities converge to this country with one aim - to give us a good night out.  And as always, here for our annual pick through the embarrassment of comedy riches is Scott Blanks, owner and operator of Auckland's Classic Comedy venue.

Scott's picks include Eleanor Tiernan, Brennan Reece, James Acaster, Lauren Pattison and Paul Sinha.  The festival opens this week with comedy galas in Auckland and Wellington.

2:25 Kevin Burke and the best thing in many movies - the poster

It's the first thing many of us see in a movie - it's certainly one of the major things attracting us, particularly to low-budget ones!

It's the poster - and it was only a matter of time before someone made a movie about movie posters.  Someone has - and they've actually called it that.   24 by 36, A Movie About Movie Posters is currently playing on the Sky Arts Channel.

Simon Morris talks to the director Kevin Burke on the line from Toronto about classic movie posters, and the rise of new, alternative posters by organisations like Mondo and Skuzzles.

2:38 Poet Nikki-Lee Birdsey returns from the States

Nikki-Lee Birdsey

Nikki-Lee Birdsey Photo: Victoria Birkinshaw

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Photo: supplied

Writer Nikki-Lee Birdsey was brought up in Piha and studied in the United States - at the Iowa Writers' Workshop, as well as working on her BA at New York University.

She writes about her impressions of both countries in her first poetry collection, Night As Day. 

With her we spend time in beautiful remote parts of New Zealand and hang out in the bright lights of New York and Queens.

Nikki-Lee tells Lynn Freeman that her time in the States has deeply impacted on her writing.

Night as Day by Nikki-Lee Birdsey is published by Victoria University Press.


2:49 Irish poet Caolinn Hughes talks about her first novel

Caoilinn Hughes

Caoilinn Hughes Photo: Danijel Mihajlovic

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Photo: supplied

For many overseas writers invited to New Zealand as Auckland Writers Festival guest speakers, the attraction is often the lure of an exotic, faraway place, or somewhere they've always wanted to visit.

But for Irish poet and novelist Caoilinn Hughes it's more of a homecoming.

Caoilinn lived in New Zealand for seven years and it was there that she studied writing.   Her first poetry collection Gathering Evidence was a finalist in both the New Zealand Book Awards and the Science Book Prize.

Since leaving New Zealand to live in the Netherlands, she's published a novel called Orchid & the Wasp.

It's the story of young Gael, her vulnerable brother Guthrie and their troubled composer mother.  Gael finds herself holding the family together when the father abandons them after the 2008 crash.

Lynn Freeman spoke to Caoilinn before her long flight back here - first to find out why this country's so dear to her:

3:06 Drama at 3 - Fall of the Shah

The final part of the BBC World drama about the Iranian Revolution 40 years ago, written by Steve Waters, and produced and directed by Marc Beeby.

3.30 My heels are killing me - Untouched World founder Peri Drysdale

Peri Drysdale the founder of Untouched World in Christchurch

Peri Drysdale the founder of Untouched World in Christchurch Photo: Sonia Sly

Last year, Peri Drysdale, the founder of lifestyle brand Untouched World, was inducted into the Company of Women’s Hall of Fame for her work founding sustainable brands Untouched World, Snowy Peak and Merino Mink as well as the Untouched World Charitable Trust.

“When we first moved in here in 1992 we only had four machines and 100 staff here. That just shows you how far the technology has come in increasing productivity,” says Drysdale of the Japanese knitting machines that now do a bulk of the work and run right throughout the night.

“In 1995 we bought the very first machine off the production line of a new generation of a computerised knitting machines,” she says. Read more

3.41 Auckland Art Fair dealers look back on the crop of 2019

John Gow

John Gow Photo: supplied

Jhana Millers and Laila O'Brien

Jhana Millers and Laila O'Brien Photo: supplied

From Hastings to Hobart, Santiago to Rarotonga, 41 galleries from across New Zealand and from seven cities from around the Pacific come together this week to show their wares at the Auckland Art Fair.

The Fair bills itself as New Zealand's premiere contemporary art event, and beyond the galleries there are specially curated projects, like exciting up-and-comers, a showcase of young video artists from China in a shipping container, and an array of talks and events.

The Fair however remains a market-place.  10,000 visitors came through last year, with art sales worth 6-7.5 million dollars as a result.  And among the galleries exhibiting this year is one of New Zealand's longest-established dealers, Gow Langsford, and one of its very newest, Millers O'Brien.

Mark Amery talks Art Fair with John Gow, Jhana Millers and Laila O'Brien.


Music played in this show

Artist: Sergio Mendes & Brazil 66
Song: Scarborough Fair
Composer: Garfunkel-Simon
Album: A&M Gold Series
Label: A&M
Played at:  12.32

Artist: The Ocean Blue
Song: Vanity Fair
Composer: Scheizel
Album: The Ocean Blue
Label: N/A
Played at: 12.57

Artist: Rosemary Clooney
Song:  Have I stayed too long at the fair
Composer: Barnes
Album: Show Tunes
Label: Concord
Played at:  1.06

Artist:  Aimee Mann
Song: Fifty years after the fair
Composer: Mann
Album: Whatever
Label: Imago
Played at:  1.44

Artist:  Edith Piaf
Song:  My lost melody
Composer: Monno-Rome-Asto
Album: Hymn to love, Greatest Hits in English
Label: EMI
Played at:  1.58

Artist: Los Straitjackets
Song:  State Fair
Composer: N/A
Album: N/A
Label: Yeprock
Played at:  2.04

Artist: Elvis Presley
Song:  Take me to the fair
Composer: Bennet-Tepper
Album: The Movie Soundtracks
Label: RCA
Played at:  2.35

Artist: Van Morrison & The Chieftains
Song: She moved through the fair
Composer: Traditional
Album: Irish heartbeat
Label: Mercury
Played at:  2.58

Artist:  The Byrds
Song:  Renaissance Fair
Composer: Crosby-McGuinn
Album: Younger than yesterday
Label: Columbia
Played at:  3.04

Artist:  The Hothouse Flowers
Song:  Gypsy Fair
Composer: Hothouse Flowers
Album: Songs from the rain
Label: Warner
Played at:  3.58