Tuesday, July 1, 2014
Mid-winter seems a good time to revive our bulletins about the people who make the NZ art world tick. Where better to start than with all-rounder Rob Garrett?
Most of you are bound to have encountered him in one of his many, many roles in the NZ visual art sector – as a curator, teacher, writer, commentator, consultant, advisor, and mentor to name just a few.
A BFA from Elam and MA from Otago, make it possible for Rob to approach projects from an artist’s perspective; many years in senior advisory roles with national and local government enable him to negotiate the sometimes precipitous steps between the concept and the delivery of projects into the public sphere.
At the crux of Rob’s ambition lies the desire to pair artists with audiences and, as a result, many of his activities take place outside, in the public eye, and often involve heavy machinery.
In November this year he reprises for the 4th time his role as guest Curator of NZ Sculpture OnShore, where he will oversee the selection and presentation of 100+ artworks and installations on the headland at Fort Takapuna.
“I am repeatedly impressed by the number of artists who grab the opportunity to engage with the layered history and beauty of the Narrow Neck site. This year will also feature what I’m calling (with a nod to Surrealist Max Ernst) an ‘enchanted forest’ of stunning abstract sculptures.” says Rob.
Just recently announced is Rob’s appointment as Curator for the 8th SCAPE Public Art Christchurch Biennial in 2015 in which he will curate 8 new commissioned projects that will add to a public art walkway spanning 21 sites across the city.
Rob’s intense interest in art culture is by no means limited to New Zealand, and a number of his recent projects have introduced international artists to these shores as well as taking NZ artists overseas.
A thirst for art experiences has taken him to biennales, fairs, festivals and studio visits from Istanbul to Moscow, and to undertake projects in Venice, Ängelholm and more recently, Poland. Note many of these excursions were taken in Europe’s mid-winter and – most impressively – with only hand luggage!
In 2013 Rob curated “Unearthing Delights”, with 27 commissioned installations and interventions in public spaces in Gdańsk, Poland. The success of these coupled with an auspicious encounter with a like-minded local – have led him to establish a base in Europe, specifically Sopot, Poland.
“This is a great new adventure. Personally it is a very new chapter in my life; but it is also a simple continuation of what I have been doing for the past few years: working with artists I’m attracted to and seeking inspiring social and cultural connections for their work. Perhaps for starters we can look forward to some interesting projects taking place between artists in places I have recently spent time: Poland’s Baltic region, the Côte d’Azur and Auckland!” says Rob.
Auckland Art Fair eagerly awaits the results of these new collaborations.
Rob Garrett, Torun, Poland; photo by Justyna Gruszczyk-Woltman