I reckon, in Christchurch, we are experiencing a, hopefully, post-quake existence that will be remembered for some of our most memorable, albeit quirky, events especially in art.
On a cleared space in Madras Street I spotted ferocious bronze bull sculptures in unlikely postures on grand pianos. They were components of New Zealand contemporary artist Michael Parekowhai’s “On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer” exhibition. It is one of the Christchurch Art Gallery’s Outer Spaces exhibitions. Not only do the eye-catching bulls look incongruous on grand pianos, they are surrounded by dire earthquake rubble. Parekowhai’s bulls have had finer places to look at. The exhibition is on its way home from representing New Zealand at the last Venice Biennale exhibition. They were also exhibited in Paris, in sight of the Eiffel Tower.
A third component of the exhibition is the striking red carved Steinway piano in the NG Gallery across the street. The piano arrived in New Zealand during the 1950s and has been played by Lily Krauss. Parekowhai has transformed it into a curious carved masterpiece. I cannot claim to be a fan of the piano but to hear this one is a real treat. It is being played regularly by CPIT students. The exhibition is worth an hour of one’s time. But if you haven’t seen it, better hurry. It finishes this Friday, July 29. (Entry is free.) A guide told me the exhibition is in Christchurch because our Art Gallery director, Jenny Harper was Commissioner for New Zealand at the 2011 Venice Biennale.