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This week on Standing Room Only, art-lover Vanessa Crofskey takes aim at jargon-ridden art writing - is the aim to welcome people to the arts or just make them feel stupid?  Irish photographer Olivia Harris wins the top award at the World Press Photo Exhibition, with a unique slant on a street protest.  Ema Tavola opens a gallery dedicated to contemporary Pacific artists, while writer Margot Schwass remembers the colourful life and times of Bloomsbury's Greville Texidor.  Artist Sam Miller takes some colleagues to Art Boot Camp, while the Silo is host to a Pulitzer-Prize-nominated play about football, The Wolves.

The Laugh Track guest is cartoonist Toby Morris, and we look at the very competitive long list of entries to the Book Design Awards.


12:38  Vanessa Crofskey declares war on art jargon

Vanessa Crofskey

Vanessa Crofskey Photo: supplied

Vanessa Crofskey's written a Pantograph Punch article condemning the way elitist jargon is contaminating art writing.

In There's Something Wrong With Art Writing, she argues that, rather than helping people to connect with art, the language that's used often shames and alienates them.

Vanessa thinks that art writers shouldn't necessarily downplay their expertise and knowledge of their subject.  But she's concerned that all too often it's more about showing off than informing and entertaining listeners and readers.

Vanessa Crofskey tells Lynn Freeman her article really struck a chord with a lot of artists.  They're rallying to the call to change the way many arts essays, media releases, books and reviews are written.


12:45 Photographer Olivia Harris's prize-winning documentary exhibition

A series of photographs of pro-life and anti-abortion law campaigners in Ireland last year won British freelance photographer Olivia Harris a top award in the World Press Photo Exhibition, which is about to open in Auckland.

Her winning portfolio for the Exhibition, Blessed Be the Fruit: Ireland's Struggle to Overturn Anti-Abortion Laws, took out the first prize for Contemporary Issues stories section.

Olivia gave up a career in theatre to concentrate on documentary photography.   Since then her assignments have included covering earthquake-stricken Nepal, and people trafficking.

I asked Olivia Harris how she came to be on the streets of Dublin at the height of the protest action:

Olivia Harris, whose photographs can be seen in the World Press Photo Exhibition that opens in Auckland on June 29 at Smith and Caughey.


1:10 At The Movies

Dan Slevin reviews X Men Dark Phoenix, Tolkien and Never Look Away


1:31  Ema Tavola opens a long-needed space for contemporary Pacific art

A new art gallery in South Auckland is promising to promote contemporary Pacific art, to work closely with its community and to encourage collectors by offering art at affordable prices.

Vunilagi Vou  has been open for only a few  weeks, in Ōtāhuhu, but already it has the community talking..

And talk is just what Gallery Director Ema Tavola was hoping for.

She tells Lynn Freeman she's created a dedicated space for contemporary Pacific art, and it will be filled with work offering insights into issues that affect the lives of Pacific people.   


1:50 The Wolves boasts a cast with a very eclectic background

Silo Theatre's next production is making history - it's the first time the stage is being given over to an ensemble of teenage performers, all making their professional debuts.

The young Aucklanders are having to learn both lines and football techniques for Sarah DeLappe's Pulitzer prize-nominated play The Wolves.

It focusses on a football team and the relationships between the nine very different girls who make it up.  
The same goes for the cast, who've excelled in different areas - from sport and dancing to fashion.

Lynn Freeman met two of the cast - Queenie Samuel and Aisling Baker. 

The Wolves has its New Zealand premiere at Auckland's Q Theatre on June 20.


2:06 The Laugh Track - Cartoonist Toby Morris

Toby Morris

Toby Morris Photo: supplied

Toby Morris is one of our top cartoonists, graphic novelists and designers - these days those descripitions tend to run into each other.

His latest is the first bilingual graphic novel about The Treaty of Waitangi, and it may be the most representative one yet.   Read one way it's in English, while read the other it's in te reo.

Toby Morris's Laugh Track choices include Matt Berry and Richard Ayoade, Paul Whitehouse, Mitch Hedberg, Jemaine Clement and the web-series Aroha Bridge.


2:25 Artist and tutor Sam Mitchell on Drawing From Life

Sam Mitchell's paintings are fascinating.  They often incorporate rescued materials, discarded library books, toucans, and Nancy Mitford - all with her trademark meticulous technique.

Painting on slippery perspex is another skill the previous Wallace Art Prize winner has developed over the years.

When she's not in her studio or on an artist's residency, she's mentoring other artists.

Sam's one of the tutors of Auckland's Art Dot Work, described as "professional development workshops for artists and creatives".  Or, more succinctly, Art Bootcamp!

Her subject is Drawing from Life - in particular, moving life models.   Lynn Freeman talked to her about how tricky it is to capture movement in a painting:

Sam Mitchell's workshop Loosen up, draw from life is on June 22 in Grey Lynn in Auckland.  Look for Art Dot Work.


2:40 Margot Schwass remembers the colourful Greville Texidor

Frank Sargeson is remembered not only for his writing but also for the other writers he mentored, including Janet Frame.

One of the most colourful members of his circle in the 1940s was refugee Greville Texidor.   Her backstory included being part of the Bloomsbury set in the UK, as well as a beauty queen, a chorus girl, a prison inmate and an anarchist heavily involved in the Spanish Civil War.

Greville came to New Zealand in 1940 but never liked it here and left eight years later, after writing a novella, an unfinished novel and a series of short stories.

Her work was all but forgotten until it was published in a collection called In Fifteen Minutes You Can Say A Lot, back in 1987.

Now writer and editor Margot Schwass has taken a deep dive into Greville's life and writing in her book, All the Juicy Pastures.  Margot tells Lynn Freeman that Greville and her German husband Werner came to New Zealand after spending time in English prisons.


2:49 Judging books' covers

The children's book entries turned out to be the toughest one for this year's PANZ Book Design Awards - in fact they've shortlisted a record nine entries.

The awards also include all-important covers, typography, educational and cook books.

So what do the award entries reveal about the current trends in book design?  Lynn Freeman spoke to the convening judge David Coventon, who lectures in graphic design at AUT:

The finalists are announced next month.


3:06 Drama at 3 -Watermark by Olwynne Macrae

A journalist attempts to uncover the identity and activities of a secret, elitist organisation which believes it knows best how to run society.  


Music played in this show

Artist:  Sam the Sham
Song: Lil Red Riding Hood
Album: Pharoahization
Label: Rhino
Played at:  12.32

Artist: My Latest Novel
Song: When we were wolves
Composer:  My Latest Novel
Album: Wiolves
Label: Etchinsketch
Played at:  1.07

Artist: Le Loup
Song: We are gods!  We are wolves!
Composer: Simkoff
Album: The throne of the third heaven of the nations millenium general assembly

Label: Stomp

Played at: 1.42

Artist:  Of Monsters and Men
Song: Wolves without teeth
Composer: Hilmarsdottir
Album: Beneath the skin
Label: Universal
Played at: 1.58

Artist: Will Oldham
Song: Wolf among wolves
Composer: Oldham
Album: Master and everyone
Label: Drag city
Played at:  2.04

Artist: Howling Wolf
Song: How many more years?
Composer: Burnett
Album: Genuine article
Label: Chess
Played at: 2.35

Artist: Mountain Goats
Song: Up the wolves
Composer: Darnielle
Album: The Sunset Tree
Label: 4AD
Played at: 2.58

Artist: Warren Zevon
Song: Werewolves of London
Composer: Zevon-Wachtel
Album: A quiet normal life
Label: Asylum
Played at: 3.04

Artist: Lisa Crawley
Song: We are wolves
Composer: Setford
Album: Everything that I have seen
Label: Lisa Crawley
Played at: 3.58

Artist: Aimee Mann
Song: You're with stupid now
Composer: Mann
Album: Ultimate collection
Label: Hip O
Played at: (Trailer)