Salient: Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 28, No. 8. 1965.
[Freda Simmonds exhibition]
A Successful exhibition of paintings by Freda Simmonds was held recently in the Centre Gallery. The picture shown above is a less recent and perhaps not entirely satisfactory example of her work, purchased in 1961 for the VUW Staff Common Room Collection.
The habit of buying works of art has not been developed among the general public in New Zealand.
The organisers of galleries, such as the Centre Gallery in Wellington, freely admit that the vast majority of purchasers are personally known to them. Artist and patron have tended to withdraw into an isolated, esoteric community of their own. A wider circle would be more lucrative, and probably more healthy.
Paintings by New Zealand artists are offered for sale fairly regularly in the main centres, and generally exhibitions may be viewed free of charge. To foster interest, or if that is too much to hope, to provide information, Salient has decided to give as much emphasis as possible to exhibitions by New Zealand artists, and will endeavour to feature some of the artists represented in the University painting collections. There is no reason, after all, that students should not become buyers of original pictures—artists have even been known to offer them prices reduced by as much as half.
We begin with a review of an exhibition by Freda Simmonds. We may be asked why we did not begin with any of a number of other artists—with Willeston, McCahon, Peebles, etc. There is no critical Justification. The paintings by Mrs. Simmonds were well worth considering, and they happened to be available. There also may be some significance to be drawn from the success the exhibition had in its sales—not just that the prices were low, and the quality was high, but perhaps that there is a chance at the present time for New Zealand painting and its market to come of age.
It is to be hoped that this review will prove controversial. Many people may feel that it gives Freda Simmonds less credit than she deserves. While admitting the possibility of occasional over-simplification and gimmicks, they would insist that Mrs. Simmonds shows herself, in the various ways she uses her curvi-linear forms and her gradations of colour and texture, to be an artist with a profound feeling for landscape and a real understanding of the means of searching it out and recreating it in her work. Others may think that the lack of actuality in paintings such as Oystercatcner, the sentimentality of Bird, and the sameness that results from the chaos and incoherence in parts of Parengarenga at Night, require a judgment that is far more condemnatory. Should such people voice their objections, then our purpose will have been achieved.