A workshop at Gus Fisher Gallery with Linda Tyler and Jess Douglas

For someone who has never written about art outside the world of ancient Roman statues, to be asked to sit and write about an abstract painting at a relatively early hour in a late-semester week is to be asked quite a lot. But sitting in the Gus Fisher Gallery, in the company of art from the University of Auckland’s collection, was enough to stir my sluggish student brain into some kind of creative action.

A Goddess of Justice – Alexis Hunter, 1996, https://artcollection.auckland.ac.nz/record/69228?query=goddess%20of%20justice&index=1&filters=YTowOnt9

The group was a jumble – those who wanted to improve their art criticism, those who wanted to bring art into their poetry, and those, like me, who came along for the ride, without expectation or background. By the end of the workshop, though, we had been challenged, taught the importance of clarity and description, the difference between explanation and evaluation, and encouraged – or scared – into writing something about which we might have had no idea.

The company of the artwork was different to my normal writing company – usually a blank page, or some scrawled notes, or a scribbled-on Shakespeare play – and I loved the change of scene and subject. It’s workshops like these that pull writers, and also self-proclaimed ‘never writers’, in new and better directions.

To read our reflection on the event, visit the event’s blog page.
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