Giant of New Zealand Art Graces Pataka

The Dominion Post.  03 November 2011.

Art lovers from Porirua and around the Wellington region are being treated with a rare public exhibition of both paintings and photographs by renowned Central Otago landscape artist Grahame Sydney.

Sydney was at Pataka’s Museum of Arts and Cultures on Tuesday for a book launch of his book ‘Grahame Sydney’s Central Otago’, after an earlier visit for the exhibition opening of ‘Down South: Recent Paintings 2001 – 2011’ in late September and a floor talk to a packed gallery two days later.

It is the first Grahame Sydney exhibition to come to Pataka since 2000.  Pataka Senior Curator Contemporary Art Helen Kedgley says the response from the public has been “absolutely phenomenal” and the gallery is considering printing another run of exhibition catalogues.

Sydney’s work has become iconic and instantly recognisable with, according to the exhibition catalogue, its “vast open spaces, treeless tussock-covered hills, snow covered mountains and endless skies”.

The book contains a collection of poignant photographs of his beloved home province, its landscapes and people. The exhibition consists of 27 paintings (on loan from private collections around the country) which are being shown publicly for the first time in New Zealand.  Another gallery space contains photographs from the book which are on sale to the public.  The exhibition catalogue introduction (written by Kedgley) describes how each “technically superb’ landscape painting takes months of ‘meticulous ‘and ‘intense’ concentration to complete.

Sydney says of his work “My approach is slow and my technique is slow.  I’m the long stare, not the quick glimpse.”

Sydney’s passion for photography was sparked during his two trips to Antarctica in 2003 and 2006, where he had to do his initial documenting of the landscape with his camera because it was mostly to freezing to sketch.