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Mark Amery is not one for boundaries

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Working simultaneously as an art writer, curator, script editor, broadcaster and stay-at-home-dad to 3 children under ten, means Mark Amery’s understanding and interpretation of art needs to be fluid and flexible.

“I’m not big on boundaries, at least not between art forms,” he says. “Art, theatre and music may appear to be very different on the surface, but their attraction for me is their shared ability to create space and opportunity for change.”

Amery’s transformative, ‘Duchampian’ art moment occurred in 1985 at the Auckland Art Gallery with an exhibition called “Chance and Change: a century of the avant-garde” where he first encountered the work of Len Lye. “I realised then that art wasn’t something constricted by a frame – in fact, it could thrive outside of it.”

Since then, he has strived to build bridges between art – in its many forms – and its equally numerous and variable publics. It’s no small feat, but Amery approaches the task like he approaches most things: with enthusiasm, openness, and a genuine passion for the work.

Letting Space, an art programme Amery runs with Sophie Jerram, is one close to his heart. Commissioning New Zealand artists, it activates public spaces with performance and installation based occupations and interventions. Amery explains, “The purpose of Letting Space is to empower artists to be agents of change, to trial new ideas and challenge the public to engage differently with urban public spaces.”

He recalls the first major essay he wrote being on Phil Dadson’s ‘From Scratch’, a group that was music, theatre, dance and sculpture all in one. His first big break working as an art critic and journalist was in the early 1990s, writing a weekly Auckland Gallery Round up for the Sunday Star Times and numerous articles on artists and issues for the arts. He sees his writing as ‘bridge building’ between art and its audience.

Now based in Paekakariki north of Wellington, he writes on the visual arts for Dominion Post, Eyecontactsite.com and The Listener amongst other places, and continues to work in theatre as editor of Playmarket’s Annual of new New Zealand theatre. A regular contributor to forums on the arts in the public realm, he has been a stalwart supporter and participant in the public programmes at the Art Fair and we very much look forward to having him back in 2013.

In the meantime, read more about his projects on the links below.



Image: Mark Amery pictured above with youngest daughter Pearl. Photo: Mark Coote.

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