Artsville

12:00am Sunday, February 13 on TV One

Tonight’s Artsville is a docu-drama about New Zealand’s iconic writer of detective fiction, Ngaio Marsh.

Chief Inspector Roderick Alleyn (Peter Elliott, Until Proven Innocent), the urbane English police officer and detective who stars in all thirty two of Marsh’s internationally renowned best selling detective novels, comes to life to go in search of his creator.

Respected Kiwi actor Peter Elliott says of his role, “I found playing Detective Inspector Roderick Alleyn one of the most peculiar experiences of my life. It was like shipping coals to Newcastle, interviewing Eton and Oxford educated personalities in England as a private school, University educated, upper class character. It was a phenomenon both very odd and most enjoyable, this process of sleuthing around.”

Elliott concludes, “Ngaio Marsh has joined the company of people to whom I am very grateful. She came to feel like a compatriot, a parent, a friend. I came to feel like one of Ngaio’s Boys.”

Producer/ director Aileen O’Sullivan says of making the show and learning more about Marsh: “It is a documentary I have wanted to make for several years and found the figure we discovered even more complex, more extraordinary and more engaging than I’d originally suspected.”

Sullivan discovered Marsh fans exist in all corners of the globe, she says “we shot in Christchurch, New Zealand and in England, and in both countries were given tremendous support by crime aficionados and the friends and colleagues who treasure and respect Ngaio Marsh’s work. It was strange to realise that while Dame Ngaio Marsh has been well celebrated here as a theatre director, the huge reputation she enjoys internationally as one of the all time Queens of Crime Fiction, has never been fully appreciated in New Zealand.”

In Artsville: Ngaio Marsh – Crime Queen Chief Inspector Roderick Alleyn is teased by ‘glimpses’ of ‘Ngaio’ during his investigation as she walks down a London street, sits reflecting in a caf� or slips into a radio studio for a recording. ‘Ngaio’ is adept at luring her Detective on, only to evade and escape revelation.

This is a cat and mouse game played by two professionals. Who is stalking who and why? Does Ngaio want to be discovered, to finally reveal who she is behind her masks?

Missed an episode of Artsville? Full episodes are available online. Go to tvnz.co.nz and click the ‘Ondemand’ button

10:40pm Sunday, January 16 on TV One

Tonight’s Artsville examines the resurgance in popularity of the humble ukulele. Taking its title from Bill Sevesi, the legendary Polynesian band leader whose dream was to have school kids all over the country playing ukeles, the documentary traces how the instrument found its way from Madeira to Hawaii, through the Pacific and out to the world.

The film finishes with 87-year-old Sevesi and his 68-year-old one-time pupil Sione Aleki playing their ukes together one last time. Aleki – a virtuoso sometimes billed as the Jimi Hendrix of the ukulele – sadly died performing on stage, at home in Tonga, only a few weeks after the filming.

The documentary also makes rich use of archive, including the landmark Panama-Pacific Expo in San Francisco in 1915, when Hawaii hosted a hugely popular pavilion, featuring plenty of ukulele music. As a result, America fell for the little instrument and the world followed. And so it bounced in and out of popularity, but in New Zealand, its Polynesian connection has kept it closer to people’s hearts.

11:10pm Sunday, December 12 on TV One

In tonight’s Artsville four of New Zealand’s most celebrated artists voyage to Fiordland National Park where European art history began in New Zealand, when William Hodges, ship’s artist on Cook’s second voyage in 1773, created his renowned work ‘Waterfall in Dusky Bay’.

In this documentary, artists John Walsh, Gerda Leenards, Melvin ‘Pat’ Day and Nigel Brown journey to Dusky Sounds to the site of the waterfall, photographing and sketching their personal response to the sights, sounds and stories of Fiordland.

The four artists involved in this project were chosen not only for their work, but also for how they might contribute to the film. Nigel Brown has a keen interest in history and the stories of Captain Cook and ship’s artist William Hodges. Gerda Leenards is a Fiordland regular who is drawn to they typical weather of mist and rain. And both John Walsh and Melvin ‘Pat’ Day had never been to Fiordand before.

Melvin ‘Pat’ Day is a New Zealand art icon. He is one of New Zealand’s most distinguished painters who began his formal study at Elam aged only 11. Now aged 86, he is finally getting the chance to paint Fiordland. Despite a bad fall as they set off on the trip, Pat paints resolutely throughout.

The Waterfall captures the power of New Zealand’s landscapes, the artistic process and the legacy of history.

Missed Artsville: The Waterfall? The episode is available online. Go to tvnz.co.nz and click the ‘Ondemand’ button.

10:50pm Sunday, December 5 on TV One

The Artsville series returns with an intimate and frank documentary In Bed With Anika Moa in which the much-loved songwriter bares her soul about going it alone in the music industry, coming out as a lesbian, and her marriage to a female burlesque performer.

Anika Moa’s high regard for honesty led to her walking away from international pop stardom, coming out as a lesbian and more recently declaring her love for her new wife – burlesque artiste Azaria Universe.

The much-loved singer/songwriter has never shied away from talking frankly about her unusual and colourful life. But a new documentary by filmmaker Justin Pemberton reveals that behind the scenes, Moa has struggled with who she is, what she wants, and how much to reveal of herself.

The documentary begins in 2006, Moa has long-since cut her ties with the U.S. record company that tried to preen her into a pop princess. She has no manager, no record company, and is recording her second album in the living room of her flat.

At 26, she admits she now wants the fame and success that she earlier walked away from – but on her terms. “I’m stronger now. I’ve got strength and character and I love the world and I want to go everywhere,” says Moa.

The film charts the next three years as Moa struggles to break into the international music industry without the backing of a global recording giant behind her.

The pair met when Pemberton directed an earlier film about Moa, Three Chords And The Truth about her decision to walk away from pop stardom. At the time she said she was too young and too homesick. She found the world artificial. “I didn’t know who I was as a person and I didn’t know what I was getting myself into,” she now says. “I never had the chance to grow as a woman which is what I’m starting to do now.”

What has since been revealed is that Moa was struggling to come to terms with her own sexuality. “I can’t believe I was so against the fact I was attracted to women for so long…it made me so ashamed of who I was,” she says. The second documentary came about after Moa asked Pemberton to film her recording her homemade album “In Swings the Tide”.

By this time Moa’s homemade album had been picked up by EMI and her first single ‘Dreams in My Head’ propelled it to platinum status in New Zealand, fuelling her confidence.

But the documentary reveals how terrified she was when she decided she had to come out at this point. “It was a really hard thing to do and I thought about it for a long time…you always think are people going to accept me for who I am if I like women?”

The resulting focus on her sexuality becomes an ongoing struggle for Moa, as she doesn’t want to be pigeonholed as a ‘gay singer/songwriter’, but is constantly questioned as an ‘out’ celebrity.

The film follows her as she performs her first Australian concert to a handful of punters at a Sydney pub, as she deals with rounds of repetitive publicity interviews and along the way falls in love with Miss Universe.

“I certainly didn’t think she was going to fall in love and it would turn into a love story, but I’m very pleased that it did,” Pemberton concludes.

Sunday 11 January, 10.30pm on TV One

The final instalment of local arts series Artsville is Liquid Stone, tonight at 10.30pm on TV ONE. In the 1970s, a Kiwi lad on his OE stepped into the shoes of one of the greatest architects of all time, cracking the code needed to complete Gaudi’s famously unfinished masterpiece and pioneering the use of digital technology, radically changing the way architecture is conceived and visualised.

The Sagrada Familia, Antoni Gaudi’s most ambitious creation, was begun in the 19th Century and is still under construction in Barcelona today. Since Gaudi’s death in 1926 and the destruction of the original models during the Spanish Civil War, the building has languished for decades. No one has understood the complex geometry needed to complete the building. The loss of both the architect and his models, coupled with an esoteric sculptural style of building that was utterly unique, posed a daunting enigma for the architects who followed.

In 1979, 23-year-old Christchurch architect Mark Burry was offered the chance to crack the master’s code. Using Mark Burry’s own archives and 21st-century digital modelling, Artsville: Liquid Stone unlocks the secrets of Gaudi’s magnum opus, and tells the story of one of the world’s architectural masterpieces.

“You don’t slate somebody for designing the impossible,” Burry suggested, “You use human ingenuity to achieve the possible”. So with nothing more than a few broken plaster models, a drawing of a single façade to provide clues and good old Kiwi ingenuity, he began recreating Gaudi’s plans by hand.

After completing his own drawings, Burry found the key: “With Gaudi, every surface you see is warped, but they are all surfaces made from straight lines. With the Sagrada Familia, we are actually trying to make a piece of geography.”

Having found the key to Gaudi’s esoteric design models, Burry took the innovative step of applying aeronautical software to accelerate this time-consuming process – a step that would prove totally transformative to the long process before him, and revolutionise the practice of architecture forever.

Twenty-six years on, the exploitation of new digital technologies to analyse and interpret Gaudi’s vision has made the Sagrada Familia a benchmark of innovative design practise and construction for the 21st Century. Gaudi’s methods, once considered esoteric and unorthodox, make perfect sense in the fluid digital environment of computers, providing valuable insights for the buildings of the future.

Artsville: Liquid Stone sees the story of one of the world’s architectural masterpieces, the astonishing technology employed to complete it, and the Kiwi-led design team realising Gaudi’s vision.

 

Sunday 4 January, 10.05pm on TV One

Tonight’s episode of Artsville sees the profiles of two New Zealand artists: vigorous painter Dean Buchanan; and sculptor Christine Hellyar (at 10.05pm on TV ONE).

Dean Buchanan is a climber and a painter in his 50s whose daily exercise regime would daunt an athlete half his age. The stamina and energy gained in cycling and climbing mountains has been channelled daily for more than 30 years into producing a stream of large oil paintings which reflect his passion for the New Zealand outdoors.

Operating from his home and studio overlooking Auckland’s West Coast beaches, and largely outside the official ‘art scene’, Dean has developed his own unique style – deeply-felt, complex and colourful depictions of New Zealand mountains, bush, beaches and seascapes.

Buchanan’s passion for his surroundings is evident in his vibrant and intense work. “The thing is, I’m totally in love with the mountains and the landscape – I’m not being spiritual either.” Buchanan says, “I love just to look at a landscape and think about the origins of it, the geology of it; and also landscapes make up different feelings. Niches.”

This profile follows Buchannan’s punishing exercise regime as he cycles miles of West Coast roads and returns to Ruapehu – a regular pilgrimage that he undertakes. It also documents the complete realisation of a major mountain painting from first crayon outline to final brushstroke in oil, giving unique insights into his very physical and determined technique, style and motivation.

“My attitude has always been ‘never, never fail or give up’. If you just lean on it and do what you got to do, you make it happen.

“If I’ve ever been worried about what I’m going to paint next, I just rip into a painting and it’s all over. It’s resolved.”

The second profile on Artsville tonight looks at sculptor Christine Hellyar and her work. Hellyar guides viewers through the creation of four different sculptures for four different locations and shows how they emerge from original concept to working drawings, to models, and finally to the construction of the finished pieces.

Be watching Artsville tonight at 10.05pm on TV ONE.

 

Artsville tonight follows Auckland-based Korean inter-media artist, Hye Rim Lee, in Toki Does New York. Hye Rim Lee has conquered the East, now it’s time to find out if she can conquer the West.

Toki is a 3D bunny-girl, who is the sexually complex subject of video art. Her creator, Hye Rim Lee, is arguably one of New Zealand’s most successful artists. Already represented by the most important gallery in Asia, Kukje gallery, this year she’s taken on the West.

Toki Does New York sees the bubbly, vivacious and driven Hye Rim and her uber-sexy creation as they open a ‘make or break’ solo-show in New York’s art capital, Chelsea. To add to the pressure, Hye Rim transforms herself into Toki for a LIVE performance with underground musician, Jed Town.

Sunday 21 December, 10.45pm

Sunday 28 December, 10.25pm on TV One

Tonight’s Artsville: Disabled People Can’t Dance is a portrait of two gifted dancers, Jesse Johnstone-Steele and Daniel King, who happen to be disabled, and the unique dance company they dance for, Touch Compass (tonight at 10.25pm on TV ONE).

Touch Compass is a mixed ability dance company with an established reputation for showcasing the talents of disabled dancers. This year, Touch Compass celebrates their 10th anniversary as one of New Zealand’s most unique and enduring dance companies. Narrated by renowned comedian, Philip Patston, Disabled People Can’t Dance focuses on the company as the dancers embark on a tough rehearsal period followed by a national tour.

Daniel says: “I thought it would be cool to try something with people who society don’t think they can dance. I’d tell people I danced and they kind of look at me like, ‘No you don’t, no, you’re in a wheelchair, you can’t.’ I tell them I’m professional and they’re like ‘No, you’re not. You can’t be.’ And they think it’s like some community thing. They don’t take me seriously.”

Along with the rest of the company, Jesse and Dan begin a tough three-week rehearsal process with theatrical director Christian Penny and Touch Compass’ founder and choreographer, Catherine Chappell. Christian’s style of working is different to Catherine’s and the dancers know he can be a tough taskmaster. The dancers have to dig deep to overcome the physical, mental and emotional challengers in front of them as they set off on tour.

Christian says Touch Compass transcends prejudice by making art. “Not by just sitting around going, ‘we’re wrongly positioned in the culture’. We’re making art in a new way on new terms. And that’s not just liberating for the people who make it, it’s liberating for an audience because when they watch the work they go, ‘I know those people, I see them in the street, but now I can have a communion with them, that’s not social, but spiritual’.”

“We’re not selling any pain here – it is art,” says Christian. “The audience pay to see the freedom of the performers just like any other art forms. A lot of the work with Touch Compass is getting able-bodied dancers to enter in at that level. We auditioned 40 dancers and they can all dance, but can they dance in this environment? You’ve got to want to bring something of yourself you’re prepared to reveal in a similar way.”

As the tour gets underway, the company take to the road in a minibus to Whangarei, then on to Hastings and Wellington. On the road the camaraderie and relationships of the dancers and the obstacles the company must overcome are revealed as they perform night after night and travel from venue to venue.

There could be several new able-bodied dancers in the show who haven’t worked with disabled dancers before. They’ll have to learn how to work with the disabled dancers before the tour kicks off, and master the difficult (and sometimes dangerous) act of controlled ‘flying dance’, where disabled dancers swing from ropes suspended from the roof. Meanwhile, behind the scenes, the challenges of putting the tour together mount up.

Follow the dancers through their gruelling rehearsal period and glimpse into Jess and Dan’s private lives, by meeting their families and support people. Artsville: Disabled People Can’t Dance uncovers these dancers’ values and some of the reasons why they are driven to do what they do.

 

Artsville tonight profiles artist Terry Stringer and his sculptures; and sees a documentary about the treasured Maori instruments, Taonga Puoro, and their place in modern music.

Terry Stringer: A Profile
This profile introduces Terry Stringer and gives unique insight into his sculpting techniques. Following a newly commissioned work for an Auckland collector, it also compresses the months of effort and many technical processes he uses, from clay to finished bronze, into a stream of images, which illuminate the man and his work.

The Silence Is Over: Taonga Puoro
Traditionally these instruments were played not for entertainment, but were played more for the spiritual occasions in birth, life, and death. The Silence Is Over: Taonga Puoro explores the argument about whether they have, in modern times, evolved to being used as entertainment in Western orchestral music, pop and rock, and if taboos about where these instruments are played should prevent this modern usage.

Sunday 14 December, 10.30pm, TV One

 

 

Sunday 30 November, 11pm

Kiwi maverick Ian Athfield is a celebrated and award-winning architect whose practice spans almost 40 years. Artsville: Ian Athfield – Architect Of Dreams (tonight at 11pm on TV ONE) profiles the colourful, outspoken man whose passionately held ideas on urban design and town-planning have helped shape New Zealand’s urban environment, particularly around the Wellington waterfront.

Employing a unique, highly personal process, Athfield creates sites that speak to the landscape as well as to cultural and social needs, reflecting a distinctly Kiwi identity. He says people’s interaction with the space, the land, the architecture, the light, and the environment, should all be considered.

“The landscape and buildings have to work together. It’s the space between the inside and out; it’s the spaces which you create outside a building that are as important as the building you create.”

At the heart of Athfield’s practice is his own monumental Athfield House on the Kandallah hillside. Part family home, part office, it is a truly personal vision: Athfield’s own concrete diary that records an individual, idiosyncratic journey.

Apart from his own extraordinary house, Ian Athfield: Architect Of Dreams explores a number of the houses and buildings Athfield has designed, including the Wellington Public Library, the Civic Square, Adam Art Gallery and the houses of Sam Neill and Alan Duff.

Athfield believes every space should be positive. “We have so many spaces in New Zealand buildings which are dreadful to be in.”

“One of the things that most people think about in a city while walking through is how do you feel about it, how safe do you feel, where can you linger, are you going to be challenged or not challenged as a pedestrian, what’s the quality of space and light seven days a week, 24 hours a day; so I suppose that’s the challenge to make active spaces which people feel good to be in.

“The challenge is to provide a great background for changes in fashion and changes in use – you know, architecture is the background art, it’s not the ultimate art in itself, it’s the background art to people’s thinking and abilities.”

He says architecture is something which continues to move on and it’s more about the appropriate uses of buildings, which will continue for a long period of time, than the heritage.

“I think the most important thing about architecture or good building is a respect for, (1) the site, (2) the neighbourhood, and (3) the sun and wind – and if one gets those right, then it doesn’t matter what the current fashion is or what the current style might be. It always works, and so styles shouldn’t be the principal reason why a house looks like it does.”

For more insight into Athfield’s distinct vision, watch Artsville: Ian Athfield – Architect Of Dreams at 11pm, Sunday 30 November on TV ONE.