Make/Believe runs until end of August

8 July 2011

Make/Believe, an exhibition featuring artwork from creative spaces around the country, was opened this week by the Hon. Christopher Finlayson, Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage, and will run in the Bowen House exhibition space in Wellington until Thursday 25 August.

From left: the Hon Christopher Finlayson, Stuart Shepherd and Richard Benge  Photo: Alison JonesOpening the exhibition, the Minister told 80 guests that he endorsed the work of Arts Access Aotearoa in making art available to as many people as possible. "My experience of the work they have done is very positive indeed.”

Richard Benge, Executive Director of Arts Access Aotearoa, said Make/Believe was an opportunity for people to see the “remarkable” art being produced in creative spaces throughout New Zealand.

“Having the exhibition in Bowen House acknowledges the valuable contribution that creative spaces and self-taught artists make to New Zealand’s rich and diverse cultural identity,” he said.

Creative spaces are community arts organisations providing artistic opportunities for people with limited access to make art, and participate in music, dance, theatre and writing.

Stuart Shepherd, artist and academic, curated the exhibition. New Zealand’s leading exponent of self-taught art, Stuart told guests that Make/Believe was a contemporary art show, and that creative spaces and their artists could compete in the economic as well as social community.

In his curatorial statement, Stuart writes:

“The Honourable Chris Finlayson, Minister of Arts, Culture and Heritage … distinguished guests … How nice to hear the words ‘honourable and distinguished’ used in the same place as work by self-taught and visionary artists, and artists with some disability or other. Historically, such work has been considered to be illegitimate, or wrong, or not considered at all.

“To present this work in this place is recognition of the cultural significance of the work, and the artists and the people who work to support them. And to celebrate such work shows how this culture has matured in my own time (I’m a child of the 1950s).

Vincents Art Workshop artist Jennifer Munro with the Hon. Christopher Finlayson and Sally Munro  “In 2009, at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, I listened to the famous Australian art critic Robert Hughes discuss the work of his friend, painter Lucien Freud. Figurative painting had become unfashionable in the 1960s and 1970s, and Lucien Freud was not seen as hip or contemporary. But Hughes argued that the word “contemporary” actually means “now” and “living”. And therefore Freud was as contemporary as any other breathing artist. I like this definition and I believe it applies here.

“So no matter whatever other labels might apply, let’s be clear … This is an exhibition of contemporary New Zealand artwork ...

“Congratulations to the artists. Bravo to the creative spaces that work hard to provide access to materials and work space. Thanks to the team at Arts Access Aotearoa for giving me the opportunity to work with them and to find some great new work. Thanks to whomever it was who authorised this new exhibition space in Parliament, and thanks to the team here at Bowen House for making the installation of this exhibition a piece of cake.”




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