Home and Building, Volume 18 Number 1 (June 1955)
Auckland Festival of the Arts — three aspects and a portrait
Auckland Festival of the Arts
three aspects and a portrait
The 1955 exhibition of the Auckland Society of Arts differs little from last year's showing in either quality or quantity; it does seem to be different in direction, the direction being towards 'modern' art as opposed to conservative and almost exclusively directly representational art, but I question here, as in so many similar exhibitions, whether this is a new direction or possibly only a newly fashionable one.page 47
In answer to this I refer to the three paintings by Michael Kmit, this year, quest exhibitor with the Society and suggest that his three paintings are fashionably 'modern' rather than showing any new direction. I wonder whether they are not just academic paintings in a new guise or does Kmit's lack of feeling for his subjects show as a new direction in painting, and if it does, should we not question this direction and, questioning this, then look about us to discover where we are heading.
It is not enough to be 'modern'. To be modern is to take on a new coat and a new coat does not make us new men. Perhaps the answer is in being neither modern nor un-modern but, with courage, what one is at the time of painting. This honesty at.the time of painting is most apparent in two water-colours by T. A. McCormack, his 'Lilies' and his beautiful 'Portrait' and in K. Airini Vane's drawing 'Pohutukawa Swamp'.
But for the new direction I look for and for the single truly modern painting in the exhibition there is only one work to turn to — Gabrielle Hope's 'Lake Landscape'.
Books and Writing
As its contribution to the Auckland Festival, the Auckland Public Library has arranged a small display called "Writing in Auckland: a selection over a century." It will be held in the Central Library, Wellesley Street East, and will illustrate in MS and printed form, work representative of 40 writers connected with Auckland city and province, whopage 47
have gained recognition in the international field of letters.
Among the novelists will be Jane Mander, Robin Hyde, William Satchell, Frank Sargeson, John A. Lee, Eve Lang-ley and John Mulgan. The poets will include A. R. D. Fairburn, R. A. K. Mason, M. K. Joseph, Allan Curnow, Kendrick Smithyman and Keith Sinclair. There will be contributions from men as firmly established in our social and literary history as Sir George Grey, Sir John Logan Campbell, James Cowan, the historian, and F. E. Maning ("A Pakeha Maori"). Others who have a place are Alan Mulgan, E. H. McCormick, John Reid", O. E. Middleton, David Ballantyne, Murray Gittos and J. A. S. Coppard; and if only for their curiosity value we include New Zealand's first novel, "Taranaki; a tale of the War" (1861) by H. B. Stoney, and one of our earliest printed poems, "New Zealand" by R. C. Joplin (1843).
At the same time, elsewhere in thepage 49
library will be another display "New Zealand Book Design". This comprises 43 books and pamphlets produced in this country, and entered in the International Book Design Exhibition held in London in 1953; "a small but decidedly interesting selection" as one British critic put it. His praise was especially lavish as regards the Schools Publications Branch of Education Department productions.
"Hugh the Drover" is the most frequently performed and consequently the most well known of Vaughan Williams' five operas and has, in England, won the affections of a larger number of opera-goers. Although composed as far back as 1911 -1914 it was not performed until 1924 when it was produced at the Royal College of Music (the work is inpage 49
fact dedicated to Sir Hugh Allan, for many years Principal of the College) and later added to the repertoire of the British National Opera Company. In more recent years it has become a stock piece at the Sadler's Wells theatre in London.
The composer calls the work "a romantic ballad opera"; the libretto by Harold Child deals with English country life in the time of the Napoleonic wars. The music is pervaded with the spirit of old English traditional melodies and though none is actually used complete, they give the work a distinctive freshness and gaiety.
The popular attraction of the opera is a very realistic prize fight in the course of the finale to the first act. Here as well as throughout the work there is a great deal of excellent music for the chorus. The two main solo parts are characterized by great beauty and nobility of line with some climaxes of sheer vocal splendour.
"Hugh the Drover" is a modern revival of the Eighteenth Century 'village opera', but without its affectations and artificialities; it has a good deal of humour but it is in the main a serious work, with a completely modern outlook on music—and sometimes on life as well.