Flying Moas — the book, the curator, the artist

More than a catalogue, a new book chronicles the Gisborne artists’ collective formed in the mid-1980s.

More than a catalogue, a new book chronicles the Gisborne artists’ collective formed in the mid-1980s.

THE YOUNG TURKS: More than 30 years since Gisborne arts collective, the Flying Moas was formed, Tairawhiti Museum art and exhibitions manager Jolene Walsh (left), Flying Moas retrospective curator John Walsh and author of the Flying Moas history, Sheridan Gundry recall the prolific output and energy in age of the Moas. “John refers to that era and us as the young Turks,” says Douglas.
Picture by Paul Rickard

MORE than a catalogue but a work of art in its own right, the book that accompanies the Flying Moas retrospective chronicles the Gisborne artists’ collective that formed in the mid-1980s.

“It’s like a catalogue but it’s also a history,” says the book’s author Sheridan Gundry.

“There are not many books about Gisborne art, or Gisborne artists together like that.”

Gundry worked closely on the book with artist and head curator of the Flying Moas retrospective John Walsh. The show was artist Walsh’s concept, and it was Walsh who created for the cover an artwork that features moa taking off in a pre-lapsarian New Zealand.

That painting will also be in the exhibition.

Much of the discussion between Gundry and Walsh about what should go into the book was done while camping during summer at Anaura Bay. The duo formulated several questions to ask the artists.

A sense of immediacy runs through the text as artists such as Norman Maclean and Richard Rogers recall in their own words the experimentation and exploration of those heady days.

Gisborne Museum photographer Dudley Meadows shot works from private collections in Gisborne while out of town artists sent in their own pictures of their work.

“I suggested it would also be good to include pictures of the time,” says Gundry. “John and I trawled The Gisborne Herald archives for photographs.

“I wrote the text and laid out the essay and pictures. John and I argued at times but all in good fun. We’re pleased with the outcome.”

To get as big an image of the works as possible Gundry and Walsh were keen to have photographs of the paintings “bleed” off the page.

Book making science comes into this decision. Layout parameters meant pictures of the artworks would have to be constrained by a two millimetre border at the edge of the page.

Or they could bleed over the side of the page. This required discreet cropping but nothing that would damage the composition.

A black and white moa logo Walsh created in 1986 features at the bottom of each right hand page.

“A lot of people will be thrilled to see historical pictures — and some classic ones of the people involved and looking a lot younger.”

JOLENE DOUGLAS, FORMER FLYING MOA, CO-CURATOR

The Flying Moas retrospective is a great project to be involved in, says Tairawhiti Museum art and exhibitions manager, and co-curator for the show, Jolene Douglas.

She recalls the age of the Moas as an exciting, productive era.

“The Flying Moas era was like the start of my career as an exhibiting artist. The collective was really inclusive and motivational with the amount of work you had to put out. With one exhibition after another you had to work hard.

“There was a lot of collaboration. People were allowed to explore and be expansive with ideas. They looked at other methods and ideas that weren’t staid.

“The show is exciting. You’re reminiscing with friends and you see how people have tracked through their art careers.

“Some artists like Clive Kelly have evolved through extreme ranges not only in medium but subject matter,” says Douglas.

Kelly’s 1993 untitled work selected for the show depicts three dinghies. The palette is dark and the brushwork is suggestive of a woodcut print. His 2016 work, Runaway descent, though is an ethereal seascape with fluid landforms in dark and luminous blue tones. This contrasts sharply with the hypotenuse of white light at the bottom of the painting., broken by a flight of blue steps to the water,

The quick brushwork and light colours in Rosemary Parcell’s 1992 acrylic, of a contemplative figure in Neighbour Kim, Sunday, contrasts with the bold, vivid and dark muscularity of a leaping horse in Parcell’s 2014 work Large bay dressage . . . soft and forward.

“The work has a new energy, a more cohesive energy,” says Douglas.

The Flying Moas retrospective and book launch opens tomorrow at 5.30pm at Tairawhiti Museum.

MORE than a catalogue but a work of art in its own right, the book that accompanies the Flying Moas retrospective chronicles the Gisborne artists’ collective that formed in the mid-1980s.

“It’s like a catalogue but it’s also a history,” says the book’s author Sheridan Gundry.

“There are not many books about Gisborne art, or Gisborne artists together like that.”

Gundry worked closely on the book with artist and head curator of the Flying Moas retrospective John Walsh. The show was artist Walsh’s concept, and it was Walsh who created for the cover an artwork that features moa taking off in a pre-lapsarian New Zealand.

That painting will also be in the exhibition.

Much of the discussion between Gundry and Walsh about what should go into the book was done while camping during summer at Anaura Bay. The duo formulated several questions to ask the artists.

A sense of immediacy runs through the text as artists such as Norman Maclean and Richard Rogers recall in their own words the experimentation and exploration of those heady days.

Gisborne Museum photographer Dudley Meadows shot works from private collections in Gisborne while out of town artists sent in their own pictures of their work.

“I suggested it would also be good to include pictures of the time,” says Gundry. “John and I trawled The Gisborne Herald archives for photographs.

“I wrote the text and laid out the essay and pictures. John and I argued at times but all in good fun. We’re pleased with the outcome.”

To get as big an image of the works as possible Gundry and Walsh were keen to have photographs of the paintings “bleed” off the page.

Book making science comes into this decision. Layout parameters meant pictures of the artworks would have to be constrained by a two millimetre border at the edge of the page.

Or they could bleed over the side of the page. This required discreet cropping but nothing that would damage the composition.

A black and white moa logo Walsh created in 1986 features at the bottom of each right hand page.

“A lot of people will be thrilled to see historical pictures — and some classic ones of the people involved and looking a lot younger.”

JOLENE DOUGLAS, FORMER FLYING MOA, CO-CURATOR

The Flying Moas retrospective is a great project to be involved in, says Tairawhiti Museum art and exhibitions manager, and co-curator for the show, Jolene Douglas.

She recalls the age of the Moas as an exciting, productive era.

“The Flying Moas era was like the start of my career as an exhibiting artist. The collective was really inclusive and motivational with the amount of work you had to put out. With one exhibition after another you had to work hard.

“There was a lot of collaboration. People were allowed to explore and be expansive with ideas. They looked at other methods and ideas that weren’t staid.

“The show is exciting. You’re reminiscing with friends and you see how people have tracked through their art careers.

“Some artists like Clive Kelly have evolved through extreme ranges not only in medium but subject matter,” says Douglas.

Kelly’s 1993 untitled work selected for the show depicts three dinghies. The palette is dark and the brushwork is suggestive of a woodcut print. His 2016 work, Runaway descent, though is an ethereal seascape with fluid landforms in dark and luminous blue tones. This contrasts sharply with the hypotenuse of white light at the bottom of the painting., broken by a flight of blue steps to the water,

The quick brushwork and light colours in Rosemary Parcell’s 1992 acrylic, of a contemplative figure in Neighbour Kim, Sunday, contrasts with the bold, vivid and dark muscularity of a leaping horse in Parcell’s 2014 work Large bay dressage . . . soft and forward.

“The work has a new energy, a more cohesive energy,” says Douglas.

The Flying Moas retrospective and book launch opens tomorrow at 5.30pm at Tairawhiti Museum.

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