Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Do prints typecast painters by freezing their artwork in time?

Christchurch artist Hamish Allan is well-known for his weatherboard houses and contemporary landscapes and in an article in the Press promoting his latest exhibition of paintings he made some comments about his work that are similar to the sentiments expressed privately to me by many artists over the years.  His latest exhibition was described as featuring a variety of paintings that follow "Allan's signature themes of nostalgia and New Zealand icons with some updated twists."

However I noted with interest that Allan is quoted as saying he doesn't want to be "pigeon-holed as a painter of weatherboard houses or bungalows in a landscape setting, so there is an [increasing] awareness of that which makes New Zealand buildings within the local landscape unique, such as their architectural details, and I've introduced vehicles and the like".  This highlights a conundrum for artists - art buyers want their work to stay the same (eg Stanley Palmer's prints of Nikau Palms on the West Coast are what we are always being asked for with hardly any enquiries for his other paintings and prints) whereas the artist wants to keep progressing - or to simply change the focus or theme of their painting.

Prints exacerbate this dilemma when an artist finds their lifetime's artistic output represented in the public's eye by reproductions of paintings that they have moved on from both through time passing and in terms of the development of their artistic style.  Print buyers keep buying prints of the paintings that they are best known for (eg Bill Hammond's paintings inspired by Buller's Birds of New Zealand) when they may represent just one phase of an artists career.  Jane Puckey even had to be dissuaded from shredding her popular prints a few years ago so eager was her desire to not be frozen in time in the public's eye with a certain style of painting!

Is Hamish Allan afraid of being typecast like an actor who plays one role so convincingly they are forever forced to re-hash their performance in similar roles?  If he is I hope he succeeds in evolving from his current style and would personally be delighted if his portraits of Captain Cook etc sell as well as his Robin White inspired landscapes.  We have never understood why prints of famous New Zealanders (or people connected with New Zealand) are not more widely available.  It is only recently that we have started to sell portraits of eminent kiwis like Ed Hillary and Barry Crump  - good on you Fane Flaws for seeing that New Zealanders are just as interested in pictures of important historical figures as eg Americans are in hanging pictures of George Washington.  Now if only we could find a good re-print of that famous photograph of Michael Joseph Savage that used to hang in sitting rooms across New Zealand....

Friday, 16 October 2009

New Prints in Rick Edmonds' Marlborough Sounds Series


Peaceful and contemplative views of water, hills and sunlight playing on natural surfaces - it is no wonder that Rick Edmonds' prints are so popular with New Zealanders.  Rick confesses that he is "mad about sailing" and sea scenes dominate the views that he paints from his studio at Moenui Bay in Queen Charlotte Sound. Rick grew up in Pelorus Sound, after graduating with fine art and teaching diplomas Edmonds spent seven years teaching Outdoor Education & Art and a further ten years as a Senior Conservation Officer with DOC. He is now a full time professional artist.

Rick writes "After having sailed many seas, and scaled many summits, a calm day with clear skies and bright light, still sets my heart yearning to be out on the Sound. There is nowhere else that so compels me. This sense of longing, and of belonging, motivates my art. It is an attempt to celebrate the unique combination of light, land, wind, and ocean. In this sense my paintings are not "scenes", though they are of recognizable features, but rather a statement, each in its own way monumental, of what is the Marlborough Sounds."

We have a whole bunch of brand new prints by Rick Edmonds in stock this morning. Photo credit: The Marlborough Express.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

New Zealand Xmas Gifts

We can't believe that our warehouse staff are already seeing the first orders coming through in mid-October for prints being sent as Xmas gifts.  Admittedly these are for non-New Zealand delivery but Xmas does seem to have arrived early this year.  I am personally amazed at how organised some people are to be arranging their xmas presents so far in advance.  Many years ago we use to offer delivery by "surface" rather than "airmail" outside of New Zealand so maybe some people don't realise that we always "ship" (what an Americanism!) their prints by air in around 10 days!

We are working on special collections of prints for customers to browse when they are looking for presents - however this can quickly descend into cliche... Eg maps for guys, Pop Art for under 30s and a nice bird print for Grandma so we are not advancing very far without getting into arguments about stereotyping.  We'll have to get this finished before Christmas actually arrives!

Friday, 9 October 2009

Artist on £500 000 a year drops Art in Motion as distributor

Here in New Zealand we are at the receiving end of Jack Vettriano's decision to drop his Canadian distributor Art in Motion in favour of setting up his own publishing company.  Some of New Zealand's best selling imported prints are by Vettriano - eg The Singing Butler, Elegy for a Dead Admiral and Dance Me to the End of Love and these popular prints are now suddenly no longer available.

Just like a band who dumps their record label so they can have complete creative free reign on their next album we wonder whether this short-sighted decision portends a steep decline in the fortunes of this artist...  We have only two or three copies of the prints shown in the Jack Vettriano gallery left as there is now no distributor for this artist in Australasia.