Salient: Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 25, No. 6. 1962.
John Godrich, whose work was on display behind the millinery at the D.I.C., is rather an enigma. It is difficult to decide whether one should violently condemn his experiments or approve of them whole-heartedly. I think I rather disapprove. Mr Godrich is playing with putty and paint, he is not doing anything worthwhile. Flowers fascinate him. The flowers are so abundant and rich in colour that they almost entice the viewer to join with them in lighting the heathen who do not enjoy forming such tropical and oriental splendours in paste and oils. But there is a little too much magnificence. It is like a hangover from a previous age. These paintings are rich, ornate Victoriana.
John Godrich's idea is to give depth and substance to his representations of flowers (and other, more abstract, ideas) by sculpturing their form on to the canvas. In many of the paintings the foreground is in relief and the background painted on the flat canvas—similar to the modern stage set with a painted backdrop. But all this sculpturing seems out of place on a canvas, where perspective, depth, light and shade should all come through the handling of the paint alone. Thus in "Protea", the trumpet part of the enormous tropical flower protrudes an inch or two from the canvas, Yet "Bird Tongue Flower" gives the same effect of immediacy, the same almost tangible quality in the flower, without going (literally) to the lengths of using the "Protea" technique.
The colourful abstracts were often reminiscent of William Blake: "Lucifer" was perhaps the best—crimson and orange-red, and hopping with devils. The pre-occupation with flowers—insinuating flowers that are almost alive, some of them, and as terrifyingly strong in evil persuasion as any dream-flowers from Mars in science-fiction is toned down in. places to produce some good normal-style paintings: "Orchids", for instance, a still-life where the pale flowers against a dark velvety background were reflected with a wineglass on an ebony surface.
It is good to note that Mr Goodrich is not a monomaniac— some mediocre landscapes were hung. Most of these had more neat line-work and detail than the oils suited. Some effects did not come off at all—in one case a pale sun filtering through clouds bore an unfortunate resemblance to a nearby marigold study. "Towards the Heads", the most stylised, was the most successful. "Sunset Over Tahiti" was rather more Blakian.
The show was a success in that it roused all visitors to some reaction. A floral artist thought the flowers were "real—too real". Someone unidentified said "wicked, but clever". The work is exuberant, but it is difficult to take it seriously.
K. Northcote Bade.