Shane Cotton: The Hanging Sky
|Author:||Justin Paton with Eliot Weinberger, Robert Leonard and Geraldine Kirrihi Barlow|
For two decades Shane Cotton (ONZM, Ngāpuhi) has been one of New Zealand’s most acclaimed painters. His works of the 1990s played a pivotal part in that decade’s debates about place, belonging and bicultural identity. In the mid 2000s, however, Cotton headed in a spectacular and unexpected new direction: skywards.
Employing a sombre new palette of blue and black, he painted the first in what would become a major series of skyscapes—vast, nocturnal spaces where birds speed and plummet. The Hanging Sky brings together highlights from this period with four distinctive new responses. New York essayist Eliot Weinberger offers a poetic meditation on what he calls ‘the ghosts of birds’ in Cotton’s paintings. Christchurch Art Gallery senior curator Justin Paton plots his own encounters with Cotton across six years in which the artist was constantly ‘finding space’. Melbourne-based curator Geraldine Kirrihi Barlow confronts the haunting role of Toi moko—tattooed Māori heads—in the paintings and in her own past. And Institute of Modern Art Director Robert Leonard argues the case for Cotton as a cultural surrealist exploring ‘the treachery of images’. This beautifully presented, grandly scaled book on one of New Zealand’s best-known artists features accessible, readable texts by internationally acclaimed writers. This book is an essential purchase for audiences with an interest in New Zealand art.
The book will be a must for appreciators of beautiful books, as well as readers who have followed the authors and wish to read more of their writing.
Shortlisted for PANZ Book Design Awards: Best Illustrated Book 2014.