Independent Audit Blue Oyster with Bridie Lonie, Tia Pohatu and Samoa House Library
Throughout the past year we have seen major shifts to our educational systems and changes affecting the humanities, but very directly, the Arts and Art History Departments at some of our leading tertiary institutes. The changes to our educational systems have subsequently made us at Blue Oyster consider our role within this, and how we might be positioned to fill the ever enlarging gaps within our educational systems; with the resources we have that are easily accessible, we ask what resources are we utilising for ourselves and offering our community?
This week, between exhibitions and events, Blue Oyster staff will be undertaking an internal organisational ‘audit’ with the aim of better understanding our exhibition programme, events, workshops and publishing as resources and educational tools. Utilising our library, archive, and community, it is our goal to finish this week with a series of questions that will guide the development of our public programming for the coming year.
Accompanying the this self-led ‘audit’is a series of public conversations with Bridie Lonie and Tia Pohatu, two valued members of our immediate community who have listened and added to conversations with Blue Oyster around this moment. On Saturday 27 October, with members of Samoa House Library, we invite you to a public meeting where discussion will be centred around the decision to discontinue offering a major and minor in Art History and Visual Culture at the University of Otago, with a focus on planning or preparing a potential future action. These events offer a moment of congregation to inform one another, share ideas, concerns, and strategies to not only equip and add toBlue Oyster’s activities this week, but more importantly, to equip, enable and support those who the educational changes will directly affect now and into the future.
All events are free to attend and all are welcome.
Nau mai, haere mai.
Reimagining a Resource | Tia Pohatu
Thursday 25 October, 5:30pm
It’s been over a year since completing my Masters and many of the thoughts and emotions I experienced during that period continue to haunt me. I had envisioned being an academic that was the goal—that was until I did my Masters. I love research and depending on the writing I sometimes like to write, but I started to question who it was I was writing for. I questioned who was going to have access, because my research and my Masters quite quickly became an echo chamber. I knew the audience was an academic one and all I could think was that my research and all my knowledge that I had carefully selected and arranged was somewhat wasted on them because they already had access.
I think about knowledge and accessibility almost every day and about who has access and who doesn’t. In this current climate I think it’s even more important to think about access especially with the closures Art History departments and the Fine Arts Library. I am growing more concerned as the years pass that access to arts and to knowledge is becoming more and more attainable to those of us who have privilege. I include myself in that privilege, not because we were wealthy because we were not, but because I had a support system that gave me freedom to express myself in my passion for arts and heritage. If I think about the students who don’t have that support system, where do they go to gain knowledge, is it school? If it is school, for me that is a problem, we know the quality of teaching is stretched and if you happen to get teachers who don’t care then where does that passion go? Do these students just give up drop out and then what, for me the world loses out because all that potential ends up where?
Perhaps in reaction to the current climate and the theme around accessibility and knowledge we need to reimagine what is considered a resource. If we shift our thinking around what is a resource we will begin to see that our best resources are each other, each one of us has a wealth of knowledge that can be shared. In reimagining what is a resource, we can reassess the role places like Blue Oyster have within the wider community. While it is upsetting to see the devaluation of arts within educational institutions and the closures of departments and libraries, we do have strong communities with an abundance of creativity and resources, just look at Samoa House Library.
Tia Pohatu belongs to Rongowhakaata and Ngāi Tāmanuhiri people. Born in Rotorua she moved to Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland to study Visual Arts at AUT and then Fine Arts at Whitecliffe College of Art and Design, graduating with a BFA in photography 2002. After spending many years abroad, she decided to return to Aotearoa New Zealand in 2010, and having worked in the Travel Industry she returned to study at the University of Auckland in 2012, graduating with a BA in 2014 majoring in History with a minor in Māori Studies. In 2015 after submitting her dissertation entitled ‘Through the Lens of John Miller, Challenging Historic Representation of Māori in Photography’, she graduated with a BA Honours in History. In March 2017 her Masters of Museum Cultural Heritage thesis entitled ‘Disquiet, Māori Historical Narratives and Museums’ was submitted. Since completing her Masters Tia has relocated to Ōtepoti Dunedin and is currently doing research into her whakapapa and family histories. Tia’s research has focused primarily on Māori and Indigenous histories.
Art, Artwriting and Institutional Frameworks | Bridie Lonie
Friday 26 October, 5:30pm
Bridie Lonie (lecturer in Art History and Theory at the Dunedin School of Art, PhD candidate at the Department of History and Art History, University of Otago) will initiate a conversation on different approaches to the place of institutions and to the uses of writing about art today and during the past decades.
What institutional frameworks do the arts need now?
What do artists need to know?
Is the idea of the canon still relevant?
What kinds of archives should we keep, and who should keep them?
Do we still want the savage critic’s protection from inadequate offerings?
What does artwriting as parallel play offer?
Is art a privileged section of visual culture and if so does it need that privilege?
Theodor Adorno once suggested that there is an uneasy relationship between the idea of art as autonomous and its social function. Is that comment still relevant or productive?
Bridie Lonie has recently completed a doctoral thesis on art, climate change, interdisciplinarity and the Anthropocene and will graduate in December. She has written on feminist art, art and psychoanalytic theory, and has a BFA in painting from Auckland University
Samoa House Library – Public Meeting
Saturday 27 October, 11am-1pm
On the 28th of March 2018 the NZ Herald published a short article centred around staff cuts at the University of Auckland, and publicised for the first time a proposal to close the branch libraries of Fine Arts, Architecture, and Music, as well as those at the Tamaki and Epsom campuses. Concerned students, graduates and members of the community quickly came together as the Save UoA Fine Arts Library group to protest these closures and demand transparency and meaningful consultation from the University. Regular public meetings were vital as our group grew and began to self-organise effectively. Long, open discussions became spaces for a wide community of affected people to learn, educate, critique, speculate, and plan action. Samoa House Library, a Tāmaki Makaurau based initiative formed out of Save UoA Fine Arts Library, is an open educational platform and community learning space, organised by and for those impacted by the imminent library closures. Samoa House Library would like to invite you to a public meeting at Blue Oyster Art Project Space at from 11am-1pm on Saturday the 27th of October. The meeting’s discussion will be centred around the recently announced closure of the Art History Department at the University of Otago with a focus on planning or preparing a potential future action.
Samoa House Library is;
- A library collection built upon donations from our community of artists, collectors, publishing houses, writers, and galleries.
- An open and inclusive study space, meeting place and working site.
- A space for group discussions, classes, lectures, workshops and office hours.
- A reading room with internet access including subscriptions to online databases and resources.
- A space for exhibitions, performances, book launches and screenings.
For more information about Samoa House Library, see their website here.