In April and May of this year a number of New Zealand artists and writers - some of them assisted by The Queen Elizabeth II Arts Council-went over to Australia to attend the Fourth Biennale of Sydney.
This festival had its satisfying exhibitions and performances; and its moments of high comedy - such as the removal of a painting by the Chilean/ Australian Juan Davila by the Sydney police from a small gallery in Paddington. One can imagine one of the latter, like the policeman who was sent to inspect paintings by D. H. Lawrence, writing in his notebook the comment 'very rude'. Davila's painting can be seen reproduced in the lavish official catalogue to the Biennale.
In this issue we publish reports from Roger Blackley, Peter Wells and Denys Watkins, on work to be seen, with some impressions of what it was like to be in Sydney for this cultural blockbuster. It was generally admitted that the New Zealanders looked good in the context of an international forum: which brings up again the whole matter of 'The Trans-Tasman Tie-Up'. The time now seems ripe for a comprehensive exhibition of current New Zealand painting, sculpture, photography et al to be shown in Australia - throughout the public galleries, and/or in some of the sympathetic university venues. Selection of works for such an exhibition should not be of the 'official' kind, or on the basis of a simplistic notions of egalitarianism, or made to prove a point: but be entrusted to a non-partisan person or persons with taste and flair. (One recalls pioneering exhibitions of contemporary New Zealand art selected similarly and shown at The Auckland City Art Gallery in simpler and happier times.)
Work by individual artists has of course been seen in Australia before now: in dealer galleries; and, for instance, in 1978 at The Mildura Sculpture Triennial (the contribution of the seven New Zealand artists who showed there was surveyed by Nicholas Spill in Art New Zealand 12). But we envisage a big exhibition, covering a broad scope, shown prominently, with maximum publicity and an excellent catalogue. Also in this issue we continue our coverage of New Zealand cinema with Roger Horrocks's survey of Twenty Years of Experimental Films; as well as an interview by William Dart with Sam Pillsbury, director of The Scarecrow; and a preview by Rosemary Hemmings of the new film by Geoff Steven and John Maynard, presently being edited, Strata.
There is an article by Anne Kirker on John Drawbridge; and the second half of Ann Calhoun's researches covering two Wellington entrepreneurs of the 'thirties: on Mary Murry Fuller.
Finally, John Parker contributes a piece on an award that has made an important contribution to ceramic art here: The Fletcher Brownbuilt Pottery Award; and, from Dunedin, R. P. Hargreaves writes on what would seem to be the first lithographs printed in this country: William Mein Smith's drawing of Lyttelton Harbour and Mount Victoria, and a chart of Port Nicholson harbour, printed by the lithographers Jones and Bluett in 1841, and now in the Collection of The Hocken Library.