One of my favourite works of art was made by Ralph Hotere in response to a Bill Manhire poem. Manhire had written ‘malady’, ‘melody’ and ‘my lady’ over and over like an obsessive lament and Hotere let the words play out across seven black paintings, each graced with a delicate ring of vivid colour. Sensuous and fragile, the Malady Panels (1971) are a compelling example of the resonances that can occur where disciplines intersect. More than three decades after Hotere’s work was made, David Howard, founding editor of this magazine, collaborated with artist Fiona Pardington on How to Occupy Ourselves, a book of poetry and photographs imbued with the enigmatic intensity that characterises the work of both practitioners.
takahē is one of a small number of New Zealand literary magazines that welcome art onto their pages. Previous issues have not only featured the work of numerous New Zealand artists, they have provided a forum for critical and insightful engagement and interpretation – often from the redoubtable pen of Cassandra Fusco, my predecessor in this position. Writing and art-making are different beasts, but they have much in common, not least their constant negotiations between private and public worlds. In this issue, artist and writer Zoe Crook reflects on the tantalisingly evocative paintings of Adrienne Millwood, finding multiple points of connection and departure within their complex and nuanced surfaces.
Artists, to paraphrase Jackson Pollock, are those who are building things – ‘some with a brush – some with a shovel – some choose a pen’. Long may takahē support and appreciate such construction, in every form.