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Salient: Victoria University of Wellington Students' Newspaper. Vol. 32, No. 11. 1969.

Art — The Black and White of it


The Black and White of it

At Present an exhibition at the Display Centre of drawings by Robert Brockie, Elizabeth Oliver and Vicky Murrell. Though the subject matter of all three is similar the treatment they rspectivly give to their topic is varied. The entire collection of black and white drawings present a pleasing, tidy effect and the fine whiteness of the paper lends positive weight to the drawings.

Robert Brockie is well known locally for his illustrations in such magazines as Focus and Cock. His experience as an illustrator for the Observer, Toronto Globe and Mail show the extent of his talent and wickedness of his pen. His "Medium is the Massage" and "Parliament Square Panorama" are lively examples of putting the environment in his man. His style in this sphere is individual enough to develop his own areas of satire and humour. The portrait of Maurice Utrillo reveals a talent for bringing out the feeling in a face while still maintaining an attitude of judgment.

Brockie's landscapes, in far greater number in the exhibition, often use extensive derail to convey locality and environment. The fact that a large number of cities look the same when reduced to their cosmopolitan framework and inhabitants, except for the twirls and signboards show the universal nature of twentieth century existence. The quaint, the unusual, the ordinary, all have a picturesque outside even if the inside is in doubt.

cartoon, New Zealand Freedom of Association

Most of the small numbers of Vicky Murrell's drawing which are on exhibition are, I believe owned by the Geography Department at Victoria. They include buildings in front of the ever hungry bulldozer and other localities of interest to Wellington residents particularly, There is a lack of composition about her work which gives an overall impression of limpness and seems to emphasise her apparent lack of individual style.

In contrast to Brockie her profusion of houses are drawn in a flat, child's perspective: his lively effort is achieved in a long panorama which lures the viewer on like a Chinese typewriter. Miss Murrell's object is to record however, and this she achieves through fine attention to detail combined with an overall sense of proportion.

Elizabeth Oliver has the largest number of drawings in the exhibition but her style is more erratic and her standard more variable. Her large heavy frames give many of her pictures a glamourised antiquity but crowd out the real subject of her work. The mixture of geometrical lines and free drawing in such exhibits as "The Sydney Opera House" distracts from the harmony of composition.

Miss Oliver occasionally uses an unusual perspective to alight on her subject at a different angle but destroys her advantage by failing to invest the scene with any new significance. Her work is sometimes sparse or merely ordinary such as in "Expo Montreal" but on the whole her pictures are pleasing with a minimum of over-decorativeness.

The international art of sketching and illustrating continues with competance, if withou major innovation, in New Zealand. The unique illustrator such as William Blake invents his own style and adapts it to his subjec matter. This too New Zealand artists in the same and similar fields will have to do.