Charles Meryon, The Death of Marion du Fresne at the Bay of Islands, New Zealand, 12 June 1772, Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington (1846-1848) I Sometime between 1846 and 1848 drew the scene en graiselle in pencil and crayon, heightened with chalk. It’s a largish work, one metre by two metres – a heroic scale for a “heroic” subject, executed by the French artist Charles Méryon (1821-1868) and exhibited at the Paris Salon in 1848. Thence it passed on to the artist’s closest friend, Antoine-Édouard Foleÿ (the two were stationed together at the French naval base in Akaroa on Banks’ Peninsula), a member of the Paris Positivist circle of the philosopher Auguste Comte, who left it to his son. The drawing was purchased in Paris by New Zealand-born British art collector Rex Nan Kivell, who smuggled it back to London, rolled up in the leg of his trousers, as the Second World War broke out. Eventually this magnificent curiosity entered the National Library of Australia as part of t
Recently the Spinoff published an opinion piece by Peter Gilderdale of AUT contending that Auckland University’s threatened closure of specialty libraries represents some kind of internal schism within the bourgeoisie, and that the outrage expressed doesn’t go, “beyond cost-cutting and general ideological antipathy as an explanation for what the university is doing. ...Well written as they are, the articles boil down to arty people expressing outrage to other arty people. And the people doing these cuts don’t care about arty folks.” Gilderdale opens his explanation for his view like this: “I sometimes wonder whether the arts community entirely realise the depth of the antipathy for, or (what is worse) indifference towards them which these cuts represent. If you live in Grey Lynn, Titirangi (or Wellington), read the Listener , go to the theatre, and listen to RNZ, your cultural support networks mean you are barely going encounter people for whom the arts are not a vital part of
after the painting by Walter Sickert at Christchurch Art Gallery Standing in the box, posed for my snatch of stolen limelight in the music hall; eyes, mouth – petechiae , no face at all, merely a suggestion, judged to match the academic curtain’s draping slash of arterial blood; high above the stall, only in shadows daring me to fall and no one waits to make the saving catch. My dress is hued like oxygen starved flesh, and on my own raw flesh is roughly smeared, a gesture or afterthought, the artist cared more for my cape collar and my cloche. The only show that matters is my own, is inward, and reserved for me alone.