The Christchurch Arts Festival opens today and Christchurch really does feel like festival city. The Ice Dome is up in the Square, the wonderful Whitebaiters Never Lie meanders along Worcester Boulevard from the McDougall Gallery and from Canterbury Museum to Cathedral Square, and suddenly winter doesn’t seem quite so bad.
I love the feeling of mounting excitement as things start going up around the place and this year the art openings have whetted the appetitite nicely for the next two weeks.
On Tuesday CoCA kicked things off with a show exhibiting an exchange portfolio of prints between 11 New Zealand artists and 11 American artists, and subversive textile works exploring different associations of the word Drape.
Last night saw the opening of two of the major visual arts exhibitions of the festival; et al., Séraphine Pick and Ronnie van Hout at the Christchurch Art Gallery, and Snare/mahanga at the Robert McDougall Gallery, Canterbury Museum.
Both shows are unmissable. Snare/mahanga means you can be back in the Robert McDougall building seeing a show that is unsettling, beautiful and sad all at once, while the big three at the big gallery is a chance to have a laugh and a think at the same time but possibly not in the same room.
In the interests of saving some visual arts treats for the next two weeks I haven’t checked out Assume Nothing at the Museum but the film, which featured at the Documentary Festival earlier in the year, was wonderful and I think can be viewed there, along with other short films. Inner landscapes at SoFA in the Arts Centre is also on the list, 15 New Zealand Artists in one space and a book to go with it.
It’s wonderful that several of the shows feature the same artists; works by Hannah and Aaron Beehre, Barry Cleavin, Séraphine Pick and Ronnie van Hout are in two or three places so the more obsessive among us can make a little project of seeing them all. I may make a list.