Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Hills, figurative art and and dance - pre 1970

Hills, valleys and clouds 60s
I have long had a fascination with hills and valleys.

Growing up in small town Waverley in the 50s my brothers and our friends spend most weekends exploring the big valleys behind the town.

As a school adviser I explored while driving to rural schools most of the valleys of Taranaki.

Marakopa hill
During a course for teachers we held at Marakopa I drew the very big hill above the beach.

At this time I was aware of the paintings of Colin Mc Cahon - another of my favorite artists. See below.

I also was interested in the Land Wars, the pa sites (most of course pre-European) and the redoubts.

Through my knowledge of Henry Moore's drawing and sculptures I interpreted the landscape as female forms - fitting in well with the Māori concept of Earth Mother - Papatūānuku.

Through my friend (Māori artist and school art adviser) John Bevan Ford, I met creative dance teacher Erika Lagore and this motivated me to attempt dance drawings. John's daughter danced with Erika and John helped Erika select suitable classical music.
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Interesting times - meeting art advisers, appreciating creative dance and classical music. A big change from early Waverley days!
Henry Moore inspired dancers

When attending Palmerston North College of Education in the late 50s I had the opportunity of being selected for a third year of training in art or nature study.

Nature study it was to be, but later,in the 80s, I was appointed as an art adviser.

During this time I had associations with well known local artists such as Don Driver and Michael Smithers and through John Ford, well known NZ Māori artists such as Cliff Whiting and Para Matchitt who were art advisers at the time. I was even lucky enough to visit, with John, Ralph Hotere when he was living in Auckland.

Michael Smithers -Otago landscape
Michael Smithers paintings and prints, in particular, appealed to me. There was a strong art community in New Plymouth in the 60s.

During the 60s I bought the above Marilyn Webb Print. It relates well to the landscape behind Waverley. What is hard to see are the embossed cloud shapes.

So although I wasn't at that time an art adviser, as mentioned, I was appointed one in 1984.

I wonder today what if I had focused on art rather than education?

Still time to catch up? Time will tell.

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