Ruth Buchanan spent three months in New Plymouth in the summer of 2015-2016 as the Govett-Brewster Aotearoa New Zealand Artist in Residence. During this time Buchanan researched the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery Collection and its strategies for acquiring artwork, as well as the cultural context informing them.
Live readings by Information Officers in combination with recorded audio 10am-4pm.
The Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, which opened in 1970, was founded in 1962 by the forward-thinking Monica Brewster (née Govett), who further endowed the establishment of the collection in 1969. The inaugural director, John Maynard, formulated progressive exhibition and collection policies, many of which remain today. In The actual and its document, Buchanan focuses on the period between 1970 and 1983, dates that coincide with both the Govett-Brewster’s formation and the time in which the Buchanan family lived in Taranaki. Of particular interest to the artist was The Great De-Accession Exhibition in 1982, a project led by the then Director Dick Bett. All of the works from the collection (aside from works on paper and selected sculptures) were put on display in a salon-style hang, floor to ceiling, and the visiting public invited to review a selection of works deemed not relevant to the collection. A public discussion was held, with the exhibition and the debate surrounding it attracting national media interest. These are directly referenced in the exhibition here. Following this forum Bett recommended a streamlining of the collection to focus on four strengths – art from Taranaki, New Zealand sculpture, non-figurative painting and the work of Len Lye.
Buchanan’s work often deals with archives or collections, as well as the histories they embody and the cultural politics they manifest. The actual and its document emulates institutional exhibition making processes, mediating the experience of Don Driver’s Five part piece (1972), Tom Kreisler’s The Key (Coat III) (1970) and Greer Twiss’ Red Legs (1968), which together with the Len Lye work in the adjacent gallery act as placeholders for each of the aforementioned strengths of the collection. By treating these objects equally as artworks and props, the exhibition is both a metaphoric substitution for a historical event and a highly choreographed encounter. The gallery staff, usually guiding visitors and protecting artworks, are engaged as performers, reading a doctored transcription of the public forum held in 1982, while the timeline similarly destabilises regular chronology. The actual and its document references the gap that exists between an object or a history and how these might be documented or remembered – a timely project within the context of the expanded Govett-Brewster Art Gallery/Len Lye Centre, and one that re-affirms a dynamic space between action and perception.
Ruth Buchanan (Te Ātiawa/Taranaki) was born in New Plymouth and is based in Berlin. This exhibition is a reflection of the Govett-Brewster’s commitment to artists who were born here, have familial ties here, or affiliations to the institution, and consider Taranaki their tūrangawaewae (their rightful place to stand).
Curators: Sophie O’Brien and Chloe Cull
With thanks to the registration team, Kelly McCosh and Catherine Rhodes, and the staff at the Taranaki Research Centre and New Plymouth District Council archives.
He toru kaupeka te roa o te noho ā Ruth Buchanan ki Ngāmotu i te wāhanga raumati o ngā tau 2015-2016 hei Tohunga Mahi Toi mō Govett-Brewster Aotearoa New Zealand. I taua wā i rangahautia e Buchanan te Govett-Brewster Art Gallery Collection me ngōna tūkanga kohikohi mahi toi, otinoa te horopaki ahurea e whakamahukitia ana.
Nā te mātanga, nā Monica Brewster (née Govett) i takatū i te Govett-Brewster Art Gallery i te tau 1962, waihoki ko tāna whakatupu i te kohikohinga mahi toi i te tau 1969, ka mutu i tūwherangia te whare i te tau 1970. Nā te kaiwhakahaere tuatahi, nā John Maynard te waihanga i ngā whakaaturanga me ngā ture kohikohi mahi toi e ora tonu ana i hēnei rā. Ka aronui a Buchanan ki te takiwā o ngā tau 1970 me te 1983 i The actual and its document, te takiwā i hangaia ai a Govett-Brewster me te takiwā i noho ai te whānau Buchanan i Taranaki. I ngākaunui te kaiwhakairoiro ki te whakaaturanga The Great De-Accession Exhibition i te tau 1982, he mahi nā te kaitohutohu o taua wā, nā Dick Bett. I whakairingia ngā mahi katoa o taua kohikohinga mai i te papa ki te tuanui (atu i ngā mahi i runga pepa me hētehi atu tāreitanga), me te aha i karangahia te marea ki te tātari i ngā mahi kāore i tino hāngai ki te kohikohinga. I tū tētehi hui nui me te taunakitanga o te whakaaturanga me te taupatupatu hei tō mai i te hunga pāpāho. E whakapuakitia ana hēnei i te whakaaturanga nei. Whai muri iho i tēnei hui i ākina e Bett te koutatanga o te kohikohinga kia hāngai ki ngā whakaawenga e whā – Ngā toi o Taranaki, ngā tāreitanga o Aotearoa, ngā toi āhuakore me ngā mahi ā Len Lye.
Ko te nuinga o ngā mahi ā Buchanan e aro ana ki ngā whare pūranga me ngā kohikohinga rānei – hōna horopaki hītori me ngā tōrangapū ahurea e whakatinanahia ana. Ka whakatairanga a The actual and its documents i ngā tūkanga takatū whakaaturanga, he mahi ngātahi ki ngā wheako a Don Driver i Five Part piece (1972), a Tom Kreisler i The Key (Coat 111) (1972) me tā Gree Twiss i Red Legs (1968), waihoki ko tā Len Lye i te kopa i tua he whakatairanga i ngā whakaawenga e whā o te kohikohinga. Mā te whakaorite i ngā taonga nei hei mahinga toi hei poutoko rānei, ka whakatinanahia te whakaaturanga i ngā hītōria me ngā mahinga ngātahi. He kaiwhakaari anō hoki ngā kaimahi o te whare toi i a rātou e tiaki ana i ngā taonga me te arahī i te manuwhiri. Ka takitaki rātou i ngā kōrero i whakapuakina i te hui nui i tū i te tau 1982, me te aha ka whai take hoki te whakapapa o ngā tau. Ko te whakapuakanga tēnei o ngā whāwhārua e kitea ana i waenga i ngā taonga me te hītori i roto i The actuals and its document, me ngā rautaki kapo i hōna mahara – he mahi whai take ki te whakawhānuitanga o Govett-Brewster Art Gallery me te Len Lye Cenre, otinoa tōna whakapūmou i te kauwhanga o nekehanga, o whakaaro hoki.
I whānau mai a Ruth Buchanan (Te Āti Awa/Taranaki) i Ngāmotu, ā, e noho ana ki Berlin i tēnei wā. He whakaatatanga tēnei o te manawanui o Govett-Brewster Art Gallery ki ngā kaiwhakairoiro i whānau mai i konei, he hononga whānau i konei, he here rānei ki tēnei whare, me te aha e mea ana ko Taranaki tō rātou tūrangawaewae.
Kaiwhakarite: Sophie O’Brien rāua ko Chloe Cull
E whakamiha ana i te hunga rēhita, a Kelly McCosh rāua ko Catherine Rhodes, ngā kaimahi o Taranaki Research Centre me te whare pūranga o Te Kaunihera-ā-Rohe o Ngāmotu.
Nā Te Ingo Ngaia i whakamāori i ngā kōrero / Text translated by Te Ingo Ngaia.