Hotere turns back time by repainting exhibit

Careys Bay artist Ralph Hotere (right) and Auckland artist Billy Apple work together again after 29 years. Photo by Gerard O'Brien.
Careys Bay artist Ralph Hotere (right) and Auckland artist Billy Apple work together again after 29 years. Photo by Gerard O'Brien.
Two of New Zealand's most famous living artists yesterday recreated a work on which they collaborated 29 years ago.

In 1979, Ralph Hotere, of Careys Bay, and three other artists helped Auckland artist Billy Apple create an installation in the former Bosshard Gallery, in Dowling St, Dunedin.

The plan was that Towards the Centre would consist of an empty gallery, with a mark showing its central point, and be an "art political" statement.

As it transpired, a diagonal string sightline revealed the central point was where a pole stood inside the gallery and, as a result, the pole and the string became part of the work.

With a tin of Resene Lumberside, Hotere was the one who painted the pole "guard red" from floor to ceiling.

In the years since, the string has gone - though not the nails to which it was attached - the pole has been repainted white several times and the gallery has changed its name to the Brett McDowell Gallery.

Yesterday, the two artists turned back time for a few moments as Hotere repainted part of the pole using the same tin of paint - although this time from his wheelchair.

Apple said he was content to leave the pole only partly painted.

"I made a decision when it was happening that we would leave it at that. He painted the total thing last time in 1979 but this was all he was able to do today."

He recounted that the original project came about during his tour of the country with a grant from the Queen Elizabeth II Arts Council.

Apple said representations of the gallery floor plan with the central point marked by Hotere would be offered for sale if there was sufficient demand.

Asked if he was doing interviews, Hotere gave the same answer he has given for decades: "No".

The exhibition opens today at 5.30pm.

 

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