Art Bus Pays Visit to Auckland Girls Grammar School

The Real Art Roadshow, or the “Art Bus” as it is nicknamed, camped out at the Auckland Girls Grammar School on August 3, 2016. It was parked next to the sports fields, which offered a scene of a truly well-rounded education composed of physical and artistic learning.

The Art Bus operates out of a double wide trailer which can be folded up into half its width to be transported on the road. High school girls milled around the trailer with their tutors examining the art; several captured photos on their smart phones. Some even used Snapchat to zoom on the faces of the subject in Harry Watson’s Focus and apply various effects on him: the raccoon, the rainbow mouth.

Harry Watson, Focus, 1995

Two members of the Artists Alliance staff, Arielle Walker and Daphne Simons viewed the Real Art Roadshow collection when they attended high school in Auckland. They both praise the collection for expanding their concepts of visual art and the many forms it takes. Arielle remarked specifically on Jumper by Miranda Parkes which spurred a realization that “painting didn’t have to stick to a two dimensional surface.” The work is acrylic on canvas but the crinkles of the canvas seems to unfold onto the viewer, defying the tradition of flatness in painting.

Miranda Parkes

Miranda Parkes, Jumper, 2006

Daphne commented that viewing art in real life, not on a screen or on a page, “made art seem like a more realistic and exciting life pursuit, not just a nice hobby.” The Real Art Roadshow was founded with this intention in mind: making art accessible to interested students. The three founders, Fiona Campbell, Rob McLeod, and Gerald Barnett, realized that students in remote parts of the country do not have the opportunity to see art close up because there is no museum near them. By means of the bus, they don’t go to the art, the art goes to them.

Additionally, Daphne remembers the large stuffed hammerhead shark, appropriately called Blanket Shark by Ricky Swallow, which serves as the obvious centerpiece of the exhibition. Composed of green plaid patterned New Zealand wool, the piece elicits nostalgia for all things homespun and traditional. The shark is situated in a sturdy metal cage in the center of the trailer and beckons the viewer into the space, offering a taste of the distinct selection of art. All of the art comes from New Zealand artists and dates from 1960 onward. In all, the collection aims to offer a broad selection of art forms and wide variety of media, including oil on canvas, digital photography, jewelry, craft art, and wood sculpture.

Ricky Swallow, Blanket Shark, 1996

But now, after seven years of operation, owner Fiona Campbell is looking to sell the collection in its entirety. Tours will cease in September 2016, meaning that their visit to the Auckland Girls Grammar School was one of their last, at least under the current management. Campbell hopes that the future buyer will continue the philanthropic work of the Art Bus, increasing the visibility and accessibility of contemporary fine art throughout New Zealand.

Hannah Lafferrandre, 2016 Wakeforest University Intern