The Dominion: ‘Elevating the Ordinary’

The Dominion, Josie McNaught.  “The build-up doesn’t bode well. In our sports-mad society, a gusty, grey day like the one Wellington turned on last Saturday afternoon is all the excuse you need to sit inside and watch the Olympics. There’s also a Ranfurly Shield match unfolding about the time Grahame Sydney is to take a gallery tour of his exhibition at Porirua’s Pataka art gallery.

So it’s with amazement that the artist finds himself addressing more than 150 people who’ve made the journey to hear him talk about his touring exhibition, On the Road, and, as one woman puts it, ‘touch the hand of the master’.

Though he’s not that comfortable with the description ‘realist’, Sydney is realistic enough to be surprised and delighted by the turnout. He even tells his audience that he’s been watching his fair share of the Olympics.

The turnout is testament to the approachability (dare one call it popularity?) of his art – and the man himself. He invites questions from the floor, and there are plenty, which he answers in a direct, no-nonsense way.

Afterwards he stays behind to meet and greet his adoring fans – there’s no other way to describe the swell of almost breathless admiration that fills the gallery as he talks eloquently and honestly about his art.

Asked whether he considers his work to be beautiful, he says: ‘Everyone has their own notion of what beauty is. I take something ordinary, and something that may otherwise have been ignored. I suppose you could say I’m elevating the ordinary’.”