Close

Art Ache and the importance of cultural conversations

Artists including Dick Frizzell are coming together for a special event in Auckland on November 23. But as Aimée Ralfini explains, it's also about a whole lot more than pretty things to look at.

November this year marks the 25 year anniversary of Dick Frizzell, one of Aotearoa's most recognisable artists, putting the appropriation debate firmly into New Zealand’s cultural discourse with his 1992 Tiki exhibition.

To mark the occasion, he has chosen to be a part of the art event Art Ache, taking place on November 23 at Golden Dawn in Auckland. At the event, Frizzell will show his work alongside a new generation of artists responding to the tiki as a motif – with each artist creating an artwork about tiki, and what it means to them.

Johnson Witehira Kore-Tiki, created for the event. Witehira's artist statement and transcript of text from the artwork can be seen on artache.net.
Title pic: Pink Hotel by Dick Frizzell.

Art Ache is a one night-only nationwide art event, structured partly like a musical gig with headlining artist and supporting acts. It’s been running for almost five years, and this next event will be the sixteenth in the series. So far it has showcased over 60 New Zealand artists. The event has mentored those who need help engaging comfortably on social media, and since its arrival, has seen a network of changes in how art is communicated in this country. The range of artists selected for the event come from different sectors, in order to amass a wider reach and to cross-pollinate their audiences.

For the event, artists clear their studios of work that wouldn’t usually be available for sale. Test strips, sketches and studies are the sorts of items that would not usually find a place in a gallery. At Art Ache, these fascinating parts of an artist’s work are made available for sale. The odd masterpiece also shows up to showcase an artist’s work in all its levels of production. Alongside this, the artists create a work that becomes part of the wider Art Ache Collection.

Above: Laura Williams paints vibrant utopian realms.
Vaimaila Urales work pops with visual rhythm as brightly coloured patterns make their way across her canvases and screens.

Dick Frizzell is sharing the spotlight at the event with a line-up of artists whose modern approach to expression is as vibrant and contemporary as the event itself. On one side of Frizzell’s work stands Māori artist Johnson Witehira, a national treasure in the making. With a master's in graphic design and a PhD in Māori visual arts, his modernisation of Māori symbology is not only stunningly bold and fresh but also full of heart and humour. The subject of his work often explores his culturally diverse heritage and decolonisation.

Flanking Frizzell’s other side is Misery (Tanja McMillan), who is undeniably one of New Zealand’s most loved female pop artists. Fiercely independent, she has grown underneath the cultural spotlight. For this event, she has drawn upon her Tahitian/Chinese heritage and created a female tiki, representative of the Mother celebrating femininity, fertility and life. She will also be eight months pregnant at the time of the event, which adds a beautiful dimension to the occasion.

The Art Ache event is driven by the belief that our creative thinkers are the litmus paper of society and that art is the highest form of communication. Art transcends language, has the ability to unite, and heals as it brings joy and meaning to people’s lives. Too many people steer away from connecting with contemporary art because of its elitist reputation. Art Ache aims to change that. It works to effect change and forward momentum in our arts sector, which is continually being threatened from funding reductions. Art Ache works to aid the intellectual development of our countries brightest thinkers, enabling them to finance themselves through alternative means.

In an ideal world, Art Ache would have many little events, scattered throughout the country, at regular intervals alongside our existing gallery system. It aims to create a personal connection between artists and people who like art but don’t know where to start.

Art is not for a privileged few – it is for everyone because we all make up our culture, and like it or not, we carry our culture with us everywhere we go. It is important that intelligent thought is encouraged and embraced by all society, and is not seen as exclusive.

We should have a culture report every night on the news just as we have for sports. We need to learn about and celebrate all elements of our culture in this country. We need to value our intellectual capacity as a country and demand better nightly coverage of cultural activities both here and internationally.

We work and meet with each other every day, so why are we not sharing and teaching each other about what we do to make us feel connected and alive?

By encouraging ongoing interest and engagement with the arts, we strengthen our creative communities and help build our national identity.

And maybe one day we will achieve world peace.

Misery's tiki is inspired by Tahitian goddess Hina-mata-one.

Art Ache is a charitable enterprise. All Frizzell sales will be given to PAW JUSTICE.

Full line-up of artists: Dick Frizzell, Johnson Witehira, Tanja McMillan (Misery), Vaimaila Urale and Laura Williams.

******

Art Ache

When: 5:00 – 8:00 pm, Nov. 23, 2017

Where: Golden Dawn – Tavern of Power, 134 Ponsonby Road, Auckland

Website: artache.net

Social: artache_nz