Nigel Brown’s exhibition, “Albatross Neck” opening at Artis Gallery in Parnell, Auckland


A large group of friends and supporters  gathered at Artis Gallery on the evening of Tuesday 21 April 2015, to launch Nigel Brown’s exhibition Albatross Neck  – a series of mostly large paintings  built around Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner  (see catalogue by Denys Trussell).

Nigel and I go back a long way. He did the graphics for my Topographies  (Prometheus Press, 1984) and I wrote some poems and a comment for his Black Frame: Work from 1964-87 show at Lopdell House, March 1988. The booklet accompanying the exhibition was produced by Michael O’Leary and Sue Thomas for the Earl of Seacliff Art Workshop.

Interestingly, a very early work of 1964, ‘The Ancient Mariner’ began that exhibition and so there is a lovely sense of continuance here for me, in so many respects.

Riemke Ensing, William Dart, Margaret Lawlor-Bartlett

Riemke Ensing, William Dart, Margaret Lawlor-Bartlett

In the photo taken by  Don Abbott, I am  with the ever delighting-in-life William Dart, editor of Art New Zealand  for whom I have written many articles over the years, and artist Margaret Lawlor-Bartlett, a founding member of VAANA ( See Paintings for Peace, Art New Zealand 39, Winter 1986) and with whom I have also collaborated on art projects over the many years we have know each other since the early nineteen sixties.

I interviewed her for the Cultural Icons (No. 15)  series at The Depot Gallery, Devonport. A prose piece entitled Face Up , triggered by paintings from her oeuvre,  appears in the Canadian publication  Descant  88, Spring 1995.   In response to Margaret Lawlor-Bartlett’s   Tarawera Volcano Unmasked  paintings, I wrote a series of poems entitled Tarawera Te Maunga Tapu.   These were set and printed in a limited edition by Tara McLeod of the Pear Tree Press, using part of one of Margaret’s  drawings for the cover as well as her magnificent ruru woodcut to accompany the poem ‘Birds passing the night.’ The poems had their first public reading at the absolutely crowded out launch of Margaret’s exhibition at Rotorua Museum Te Whare Taonga O Te Arawa, 18 September 19998.  In 2003, Margaret initiated a visual response by 7 artists to my poem ‘Towards 14 Ways of looking at Pohutukawa’ . Entitled ‘Maungauika North Head Artists’ Project, the exhibition was shown between February and March 2004, at the restored North Head Summit Barracks, Devonport, Auckland, and formally opened by the then Prime Minister, Helen Clark.