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The merrier

Updated: Jul 27, 2020

Miranda Parkes: the merrier

By Miranda Parkes, Robyn Notman, Andrea Bell and Sophie Bannan

Hocken Collections, University of Otago, 2017

Reviewed by Craig Beardsworth

Miranda Parkes

Fifty years of the Frances Hodgkins Fellowship was celebrated last year. The Hocken Collection and Dunedin Public Art Gallery mounted a 49-artist*, two-institution behemoth exhibition. Miranda Parkes is the latest in a distinguished line of New Zealand artists who have been supported for a year in Dunedin to explore their practice.

This is a 100-page catalogue marking the milestone. As a catalogue it is not intended to analyse, the artist’s modus operandi is in detail. It contains four short essays or ‘thoughts’ by Robyn Notman, Andrea Bell, Sophie Bannan and Parkes. They are in large bold fonts that make for quick, easy reading. It is not the writing though that will draw in the readers but rather the punchy design. Parkes is known for her riotous use of colour and form. Three dimensional canvases are ‘puffed up and ruffled’ according to Notman, and are ‘exuberant and sensual.’ Even the works with more muted palettes have a liveliness about them − activity abounds in them and thus in the catalogue design.

Daniel Blackball Alexander has captured Parkes’ dynamism with clever treatment of images. Many berate each other from facing pages, vying for attention with bright washes of colour behind them while others sit alone positioned at the top of a page facing a blank page. Some pages are on high gloss, others on thicker paper. A poem meanders its way across six leaves of uncoated paper, calm among the cacophony of colour. This is design at its best, capturing the spirit of the subject. It’s loud and unforgiving, joyous and rowdy – just like the art.

* in 1996/97 one artist held the fellowship for two years.

First published Art Zone #72


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