Nau mai, haere mai, welcome to eyeCONTACT, a forum built to encourage art reviews and critical discussion about the visual culture of Aotearoa New Zealand. I'm John Hurrell its editor, a New Zealand writer, artist and curator. While Creative New Zealand and other supporters are generously paying me and other contributors to review exhibitions over the following year, all expressed opinions are entirely our own.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Architectural drawings

From perfumery to radio station: The evolution of an Auckland architectural practice
(Plus) New Zealand architecture in perspective: 150 years of architectural drawing
Gus Fisher
3 July - 12 August 2009

These two shows examine the role of drawing – nondigital in this point of architectural history – in building design. One looks at one firm close up, using the plans and elevations it submitted to clients. The other looks at rendered building proposals from several, using perspectival drawing methods.

The ‘perfumery show’ is the better one, having a tighter focus and a site specific installation using the inlaid marquetry toolbox owned by Henry Greensmith Wade. He was a partner in Wade & Bartley who in 1934 designed 1YA which later became the Kenneth Myers Centre in which the Gus Fisher is now housed. The exhibition features many delicate, detailed, ink and wash working drawings for that project, plus others from the 130 year history of Matthews and Matthews into which Wade & Bartley become incorporated.

For the other exhibition Canterbury art historian Ian Lockhead has selected an assortment of perspectival drawings created using various media. The drawings are quality artworks in themselves, especially the looser Scott and Pascoe ones which I particularly enjoyed. There are however too many, and the display is completely upstaged by the works in the adjacent rooms next door.

Even though the drawing structure there is different planarly, the similarities with line and wash, and the presence of each proposed building’s unity of concept and interlocking drawn graphic components, make the Matthews and Matthews show much much richer. Plus – as in the case of the beautiful Kenneth Myers Centre - you are actually in the building under scrutiny. You can wonder at the imaginative use of drawing as an essential aid to its construction, and enjoy the textures, forms, and prioperceptive bodily sensations of the final spatial result.

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