Sally Tagg, Pollen Hybrid, 2008. Exhibited at NZ Sculpture OnShore in 2008. Photographed in its new home in a private collection. Photo: Tom Gray: 2013.
The Oxford Dictionary online defines art as:
The expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.
While it’s true that we can experience art anywhere, in anything we find beautiful or moving, I have a particular love of the fine arts. I am most passionate about sculpture and film, and am incredibly lucky to work with an arts organisation. I help organise NZ Sculpture OnShore, a biennial sculpture exhibition which raises funds for New Zealand Women’s Refuge. This stroke of luck means I am able to experience wonderful “expressions and applications of human creative skill” on an almost daily basis.
Rod Davies, Ocean Swell, 2012. Exhibited at NZ Sculpture OnShore, 2012.Photographed at Kaipara Coast Sculpture Gardens, 2013. Photo: Su Leslie 2013
My role within the organization is to market the event; to bring as many people as possible through the gates to view and enjoy some of the best contemporary New Zealand sculpture. The equation is simple: more visitors = more money. More money means more that Women’s Refuge can do to help women and their children escape from abusive relationships and build new, better lives.
So far, we have donated $1.34 million dollars to the cause. We have funded a respite house, educational materials, special packs for children entering refuges – sometimes in the middle of the night with only the clothes on their backs – and most recently seed funding for a business that will help Refuge generate an on-going income.
An Auckland sunrise from Fort Takapuna; site of NZ Sculpture OnShore. Views so breath-taking, they add an extra dimension to the artwork exhibited there. Photo: Su Leslie 2013
Ok, this sounds like an ad and I suppose it is – it is shameless promotion of an event and a cause that I feel so passionately about I donate my time and talents to make it a success. But there is a point. The exhibition is held on a stunning cliff-top site overlooking the Hauraki Gulf and islands; the backdrop to the art is so beautiful that even without the sculptures, it is frequently represented in works of art.
Karen Walters, From the Earth and From the Sky, 2010. Framing Rangitoto Island, Auckland’s newest and most iconic volcano, these works were exhibited at NZ Sculpture OnShore in 2010. Photo: Su Leslie, 2010.
People come and photograph the work and the setting. We commission – and are donated – many images from each exhibition which we share on FaceBook, our website, and in our brochures, posters, advertisements and articles.
In the processes of framing, shooting and sometimes editing an image, extra layers of “human creative skill and imagination” are added. And this can create a tension. Sometimes the most beautiful or artistic image of a work is not that which most clearly represents the work itself, but the one which captures light, movement, backdrop, or just a moment in time, that resonates with those who see it.
Sally Tagg, Pollen Hybrid, 2008. This image better shows the work of art, but is, I think, less successful as a photograph than one above of the same sculpture. Photo: Su Leslie, 2014
Sometimes the creation of one art form enhances another; sometimes not so much.
I’m thinking about this a great deal at the moment as we begin to develop the marketing collateral that will help us promote NZ Sculpture OnShore 2014. The event is about sculpture; but most of the channels I can use to bring visitors through the gates are two-dimensional. The promise of artistic beauty that I offer is as much in the photographer and graphic designer’s art as in the sculptors’. From the hundreds of images available, we need to find the few that marry these art forms into something greater than the sum of the parts.
Charlotte Fisher, 9 Billion, 2012. This shot was used in much of the marketing for the 2012 exhibition and I think nicely illustrates the synergy between the sculptor’s art and that of the photographer. Photo: Sally Tagg, 2012.
So, no pressure then.
It has been fascinating seeing the myriad of responses to the Daily Post photo challenge theme “a work of art.” Here are some I particularly liked: