Passchendaele: An interface of art and commemoration

‘Drawings’, 32 works by 16 invited artist, is currently on show at Northart. 

No constraints are put on the artists, they are simply given two sheets of high quality paper (sponsored by Gordon Harris, The Art and Graphic Store) and asked to interpret ‘drawing’ as they wish. The result, this year, is a particularly lively and energetic exhibition of works in a broad range of media - pencil, oil, pastel, acrylic, charcoal, watercolour, gouache, even collage -  and on eclectic range of subjects. A must-see for all those interested in good art. 

While at Northart, take time to view ‘Of Veils’ by Salama Moata McNamara and Shannon Gleeson. It, too, is a fascinating exhibition and has been very well received by visitors. But you will have to hurry – both shows close 4pm on Sunday 8 April. If you come along that afternoon, you will have an opportunity to meet many of the artists who will be in the gallery from 2pm that day.

Next up is ‘Passchendaele. Home Front to Front Line’ by Auckland artist Robyn Hughes. Her series of intense, expressionist, paintings commemorates the disastrous 1917 campaign in Belgium, in which there were nearly 12,000 British, Australian and New Zealand casualties. Most lie in a cemetery near the battlefield, over 8000 of them in unnamed graves. Robyn Hughes spent nearly two years researching Passchendaele, visiting the battlefields and the cemeteries, reading personal letters and diaries from the front line, newspaper articles and stories of the time from both here and abroad, military dispatches and histories,  in order to come to terms with how such a tragedy could happen.  Her exhibition pays tribute to the young men, many still in their late teens, who experienced the horror, the boredom and the futility of Passchendaele, to those remain there, to those who came home. Acknowledged in visual form,  too, is the vital role played by women, those who remained at home, knitting socks and scarves for soldiers, raising money to help the injured, and generally keeping things ticking over, as well as those who took part in active duty as nurses.  New Zealand’s involvement in Passchendaele and the Western Front is not as well-known as that in Gallipoli. It is hoped that this exhibition, which “stands at the interface of art and commemoration”, will help rectify that.

‘Passchendaele’ opens on Sunday 15th April at 4pm and continues until 3 May.  Opening the day before is the 14th New Zealand Korean Fine Arts Association Exhibition. Fourteen artists will participate and exhibit mostly painting, with some sculpture and possibly ceramics and jewellery. 

Northart is running a number of movie evenings and a winter seminar series will start soon.

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