It’s a wonderful time of year. Longer evenings. Warmer days. The sap is rising. Nelson is emerging from its wintry cocoon and once again anticipating the buzz of summer.
This week we spent a few days in Central Otago where the buzz lasts all year round, and Southland, which rarely seems to get buzzing at all.
We were on a scouting trip really, to see what is trending in galleries down south. To be honest, we were pretty impressed.
Sure, a couple of Queenstown’s lakeside galleries were bulging with token tourist trivia-art: uninspired blandscapes, native birds, prints. They meet a market, perhaps, but leave a poor impression of Kiwi creativity.
On the other hand, some galleries rocked. Artbay carries a range of work from some exceptional artists, and there is lots of fresh contemporary work around Wanaka and Cromwell.
Even in Invercargill, which has lost both its main public gallery, Anderson Park, and second exhibition venue the Southland Museum (victims of perceived earthquake risk), there was one gallery, Chiaroni, worth spending time in.
How does Nelson stack up by comparison? Our Saligia working studio and gallery opened nearly a year ago, and we’re delighted with the response.
In that time the indefatigable Neville Parker has opened a new gallery, Origin, in Hardy St, Donna and Jessica have sparked things up at Tula and Niles, Jill and James have established Quiet Dog as a contemporary new thrust to their framing business and other galleries have opened or moved.
A massive plus for Nelson art was Michael Dell’s win in the highly prestigious 2019 Parkin Award.
This $20,000 prize is among the biggest and most highly sought in New Zealand art, and Dell topped a field of more than 470 entries. Stunning! Well done Mr Dell. Great to see a Nelson artist triumph at this level.
As for Saligia, we’re currently working on the first of a series of oil paintings exploring poverty… as we happen to believe strongly that art ought to say something.
An important role, we feel, is for artists to be part of the social discourse, such as a recent Nikki Romney painting that depicted Prime Minister Jacinda Adern as The Weeping Madonna – following the tragic mosque shootings of March 15. Fittingly the work was bought by a Christchurch couple.
We also fear that in an increasingly PC environment, the ability of artists and other commentators to express themselves is coming under significant pressure.
That belief sparked a new Nikki Romney work Mob Rule, inwhich a top-third spread of cartoons deemed offensive, and some artists and other proponents of free speech at the bottom, are separated by the ‘’mob’’ – ever active in forcefully making their opinions known, often from behind the shield of online anonymity.
Meanwhile, just for fun, we are working on a cool coffee table-sized chessboard artwork based on the Game of Thrones.
It’s not quite finished– Jon Snow’s image has yet to be hand-painted to balance Daenerys on the opposite side – but it’s funky and cool and a balance point to the more serious works we’re more known for.
Cheers, Alan and Nikki
Saligia Art Gallery and Studio