It is a glorious Thursday afternoon here at the Vivian and I have stolen a moment, between visitors stopping by, to view our latest exhibition. The current show is wonderful, we are feeling extremely privileged to have the very fine work of some of New Zealand’s foremost artists in the gallery. The opening on Saturday evening was relaxed and lovely with lots of our clients able to meet and chat with all of the artists who travelled from all over the country to be here. On Sunday morning an informative and lively artist talk was really appreciated by many visitors and included discussion’s that informed the audience about the individual works but also included poetry and performance. This is an acclaimed group of NZ artists who are all so talented but equally extremely generous in the sharing of their ideas and experiences.

The exhibition is well worth a visit, bring the children, the works core ideas speak to all of us.


 Saturday 16 April – Sunday 22 May 2016

Featuring work by Phil Dadson, Bruce Foster, Ian Macdonald, Gregory O’Brien, John Pule and Elizabeth Thomson


‘Since we do float on an unknown sea, I think we should examine the other floating things that come our way carefully; who knows what might depend on it.’ (Elizabeth Bishop, writing to Robert Lowell)


Subject to ocean currents and rips, as it is to migrations of species, flotsam and jetsam, the coastline is a site characterised by mutability, dynamism and a state of endless disequilibrium. A microcosm of the world at large, the littoral zone strikes a resonant, illuminating yet also cautionary note. With issues such as global warming, rising sea levels and the acidification of oceans to the fore, the coast is the fulcrum upon which many of the issues facing the terrestrial and aquatic environments are balanced. The tidal zone is also a place of human beginnings and endings, of humanity’s grandest schemes and gravest misadventures, a region tempered by the most subjective, intimate human experiences as it is by geopolitics.

The works in ‘Tidal’ offer a number of viewpoints--whether we approach the subject with a camera, microphone, paintbrush or etcher’s tool; whether our vantage point is that of a drone looking down upon a tract of beach or that of a kayaker purposefully heading through a beach-break... We follow the progress, through time as through space, of the artist as beach-walker, rower, longshoreman, mariner and navigator. And in the ink-black surface of the etcher’s art, we enter a sea-cave, tracing nocturnal imaginings, fragments of memory and dream.  

The horizon is neither the primary focus nor the distinguishing characteristic of any of these coastal views. In ‘Tidal’ the viewer’s gaze is on the near rather than the far; the artists explore notions of ‘ecosystem’ rather than conventional ‘landscape’. The works seek to inhabit the tidal zone, as much as they evoke or render it. Such is their purpose and emphasis.

‘Once a landscape goes undescribed and therefore unregarded, it becomes more vulnerable to unwise use or improper action,’ writes Robert MacFarlane in Landmarks (2015). Seeking to ‘describe’ and to ‘regard’, these works become, inadvertently, a form of advocacy. The artists in ‘Tidal’ impart something of the deep character of the coastline, touching upon what MacFarlane would describe as the ‘use-histories, imaginative shapes, natural forms and cultural visions’ of the region. In ‘Tidal’, we study the forms, rhythms and migrations of the South Pacific, and how it is that the life of the planet is played out by the minutest of its particulars.


Gregory O’Brien




For more information contact:

The Vivian Gallery - 09 422 9995


Helen Crosby - 021669844