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This week on Standing Room Only, a strong series of visual arts stories - hence our musical theme: music concerning art galleries and art museums.  The late sculptor Guy Ngan is remembered in two separate exhibitions - one at Auckland's Artspace, one at Lower Hutt's Dowse Gallery - and 'art detective' artist Bronwyn Holloway Smith is sent out to find some of Ngan's lost public art-works. A dance group from the tiny island of Rotuma are Artists in Residence for Auckland's Pacific Dance Festival, while a Cambodian photographer is using art to reconnect with refugees from the Killing Fields of the 1980s.   

Photographer Sait Akkirman shows some of his favourite images of over 3200 art gallery openings, we meet the couple who are the new co-directors of the Govett Brewster Gallery in New Plymouth Aileen Burns and Johan Lundt, and the exquisite poetry of Chloe Honum.  All this and At The Movies, the Three O'Clock Drama, and on the Laugh Track, Christchurch burlesque queen Feather Unsure. Plus wall to wall songs about art galleries and museums.  


12.38  The public and private art of Guy Ngan

"Sculpture is not a static thing, it should not be isolated, but take part in life." So said Wellington artist and designer Guy Ngan.

Guy passed away in 2017 and was known particularly for the many large sculptures and murals he was commissioned to make for public buildings, from the 60s through the 80s.

He now has the distinction of being the subject of two major exhibitions in New Zealand at the same time - one at The Dowse Art Museum in Lower Hutt, the other opening this Friday at Auckland's Artspace.

Mark Amery spoke to the Director of Artspace Remco de Blaaij, and to an apprentice and friend of Ngan's, the sculptor Kingsley Baird.  Mark asked Kingsley what makes Ngan's work of cultural interest right now.


12.51 Bronwyn Holloway-Smith - hunting for Guy

Bronwyn Holloway-Smith

Bronwyn Holloway-Smith Photo: Supplied

And then we meet "art detective" Bronwyn Holloway Smith, one of the three artists commissioned by Artspace to respond to Guy's exhibition there.  But her particular interest is the recovery of Guy Ngan public art-works.

If anyone can do it, Bronwyn can - her last investigation, into the lost public murals of E Mervyn Taylor, led to the NZ Book Award-nominated Wanted.

Bronwyn is one of the people behind the development of a public art registry. If you are interested in contributing information about Guy Ngan works or other public art works out there head to the Public Art website.


1.07  At The Movies

This week Simon Morris reviews Aladdin and Gloria Bell, and talks to Nicholas Hoult, the star of the new biopic Tolkien.


1.31 Rako Pasefika - putting Rotuma on the map

Rako Pasefika is a performing arts group, based in Fiji, representing the small Pacific island of Rotuma. They're currently Artists in Residence in Auckland as part of the Pacific Dance Festival.

Politically Rotuma is part of the Republic of Fiji but physically it's a small speck in the deep blue - population 2000,  halfway between Fiji and Tuvalu, with a distinct language and culture.

Song, dance, theatre and art are used to express Rotuma identity and keep the culture alive. Mark Amery spoke with  Rako principal dancers and artists Iane Tavo and Emily Marie, ahead of performances of the dance work they have choreographed (which they discuss) as part of the festival on Tuesday and Wednesday 12 and 13 June at Mangere Arts Centre.  


1.47  Cambodian artist Kim Hak retrieving memories from the Killing Fields

In Cambodia in the mid 1970s, the Khmer Rouge - under the leadership of Pol Pot - abolished money, schools and private property and evacuated towns and cities.   About 1.7 million Cambodians died in the notorious "Killing Fields".  

But some Cambodians managed to flee, and between 1979 and 1992, New Zealand accommodated almost 5000 Cambodian refugees.

Alive is an ongoing project by Cambodian artist Kim Hak where, through photography, he brought precious objects Cambodians had to hide back to life as "holders of family and memory".

Kim has exhibited this work all over the world and in August, Alive travels to Kim's hometown of Phnom Penn. Right now it's being exhibited at Auckland's Objectspace.

Mark Amery talks with Kim Hak and Objectspace's new Maukuuku Community Development Co-ordinator Zoe Black, finding out how it was to engage with the Auckland's Cambodian community.  

Coincidentally there are two other arts projects concerning Cambodia taking place this week in Wellington: Stacey Simpkin has a photography exhibition of Cambodia's rural communities at the New Zealand Portrait Gallery, and a solo show performed by Sarita So called Digging to Cambodia opens at Bats Theatre.


2.04  Laugh Track - Feather Unsure

Feather Unsure

Feather Unsure Photo: supplied

These days if you want to be a live performer you need to be a little light on your feet.  

Away from the mainstream outlets- the theatre, comedy clubs and live music gigs - there's a whole world of Fringe activities, ranging from "burlesque" and "alternative cabaret" to plays called Two Zones Please performed entirely on board a moving bus!

That last one is the work of today's Laugh Track guest, Christchurch burlesque queen Feather Shaw - or "Feather Unsure" on stage - who's about to MC the Steam Punk Vaudeville show in Oamaru this weekend.  Simon Morris talks to Feather, whose Laugh Track picks include Urzila Carlson, John Cleese and Graham Chapman, Rose Matafeo and Nick Rado.


2.26 Photographer Sait Akkirman - there at over 3000 openings!

Wine, cheese, hobnobbing... Openings are major networking grounds, where hopefully a taste for the work of an artist is attained with some alcoholic encouragement.

But it's fascinating to observe how people engage with art and each other. As a fly on the wall photographer Sait Akirrman has over the years had a unique perspective.

The singularly dedicated Sait has been photographing openings in Auckland for over eight years, then posting these social and art pics on his website Artsdiary.

Sait Akkirman tells Mark Amery he's photographed a mindboggling 3200 exhibitions!

His work can be seen at but we have a gallery here of some of Sait's favourites.


2.38 Poet Chloe Honum captures the things unsaid

Chloe Honum

Chloe Honum Photo: supplied

Like music, poetry can be a conduit between our feelings and the world. It's an active in-between space, a space within which to let words dance between our internal world and the world outside.

Poetry enables the difficult vulnerable things to resonate, those most often left unsaid. And that's one way of describing the power and grace of the poetry of Chloe Honum  

Chloe grew up on Auckland's North Shore, but she now lives and works in Texas.  Her work has featured in numerous American poetry collections which have words like 'best' 'emerging' and 'new' on their cover.

This year she's a Grimshaw Sargeson Writer Fellow in Auckland - which is one of our most distinguished writer residencies.    Mark Amery talks to Chloe Honum about some of the poems in her exquisite first book The Tulip Flame. The collection is available on Chloe's website.


2.49  Gallery co-directors' Aileen Burns and Johan Lundh

Perhaps it shouldn't be unusual but it's certainly rare for a major arts organisation in New Zealand to be run by a couple - let alone two parents with a very young child.

Meet Aileen Burns and Johan Lundh, the new co-directors of one of Aotearoa's most prestigious galleries and museums, the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery and adjoining Len Lye Centre in New Plymouth.

Previously they were directors of the Institute of Modern Art in Brisbane and, before that the Centre for Contemporary Art in Derry, Northern Ireland.

Mark Amery discovers that Aileen and Johan's collaborative approach to gallery management spills over into their approach to exhibition making. 

Aileen Burns and Johan Lundh will deliver a talk called Curating in Context on June 11 at the Govett Brewster Gallery in New Plymouth.


3.04  Sunday Drama - Still waters

Still Waters by Sarah Delahunty is about a woman whose life is changed by a television soap opera. It stars Alice Fraser and Peter Hambleton, with Bruce Phillips as the Still Waters narrator.



Music played in this show

Artist: Joni Mitchell
Song: The gallery
Composer: Michell
Album: Clouds
Label: Reprise
Played at: 12.32

Artist: Lorde
Song: The Louvre
Composer: Antoneff-O'Connor
Album: Melodrama
Label: Virgin
Played at:  12.58

Artist: The Times
Song: Picture gallery
Composer: Ball
Album: Pop Goes Art
Label: Artpop
Played at: 1.07

Artist: Art Brut
Song:  Modern art
Composer: Art Brut
Album: Bang Bang Rock and Roll
Label: Fiercepanda
Played at: 1.44

Artist: Ting Tings
Song: Guggenheim
Composer: DeMartino-White
Album: Sounds from Nowheresville
Label: Sony
Played at:  1.58

Artist: Montreal Symphony Orchestra
Song: Pictures at an exhibition
Composer: Mussorgsky
Album: Pictures at an Exhibition
Label: Decca
Played at:  2.04

Artist: Tiny Ruins
Song: Me at the museum you at the Wintergarden
Composer: Fullbrook
Album:  Brightly painted one
Label: Spunk
Played at:  2.35

Artist: A House
Song: Endless art
Composer: A House
Album: Live in Concert
Label: Setanta
Played at: 2.58

Artist: Jonathan Richman
Song: Girlfriend
Composer: Richman
Album: The Modern Lovers
Label:  Castle
Played at: 3.04

Artist: Dire Straits
Song: In the gallery
Composer: Knopfler
Album: Dire Straits
Label: Mercury
Played at: 3.58