The move away from 'the object' in recent decades and the expansion of legitimate forms and areas of creativity has been one of the most striking features of contemporary developments in art. Borderlines between 'sculpture', for instance, and what has come to be called 'performance' art have become blurred: so that the art work often becomes a more or less complex event in which conceptual elements play a prominent part. (The recent ANZART Project Week, at the Christchurch Arts Centre, provided a platform for such work, presenting Australian and New Zealand artists side by side, incorporating performance, video, new music, cinema and lectures.)
One of the most interesting performance artists to be seen recently in New Zealand - an artist born in this country but working over the last few years in the United States - was Clair Fergusson, whose tour here was sponsored (not without controversy) by the Queen Elizabeth II Arts Council. This engaging young woman won over many on her three-months visit with her performance art, photography and public discussions.
On the cover of this issue, one of Claire Fergusson's Tree pieces is reproduced. And on page 34 Wystan Curnow assesses her impact here, discussing works seen in Auckland and at ANZART in Christchurch.
Still working with 'objects' - often with 'found objects - 'three New Zealand sculptors, Christine Hellyar, Greer Twiss and Terry Stringer, are looked at by the poet Alistair Patterson from page 20, where the evident blurring of 'distinctions between art and utilitarian artefact, between art and the wide variety of objects found in nature', is considered.
On page 37, in the first of two articles, Andrew Bogie looks at 'Chance in Art' - the indeterminacy aesthetic - and notes in the visual arts in New Zealand, in painting, printmaking, veramics, where 'aleatoric' factors have shaped or affected the outcome of the works.
Two photographers each of whom in his own way seeks to examine the heart of this land and its people - Clive Stone and Robin Morrison - are discussed in articles by Peter Wells and Rhonda Bosworth on pages 28 and 29.
Other subjects in this issue are: the printmaker Rodney Fumpston; a newly-discovered letter by the soldier-artist G. F. von Tempsky; flax-weavers of the far North; and a foundry that specialises in the casting of New Zealand sculptor's pieces.