I will need words: collecting great quotes by NZ artists

Recently Te Papa’s art educator Helen Lloyd and I have been working together to compile a list of some of the best quotes by well-known New Zealand artists. Quotes about art and art making. We’re interested in quotes which really get to the heart of why artists make work. Helen, being the educator, is particularly interested in quotes which could inspire children aged 5-8 years old.

Here’s an example:

I only need black and white to say what I have to say. It is a matter of light and dark.” – Colin McCahon (told to his son William McCahon)

Colin McCahon, 'Scared', 1976, acrylic on paper. Purchased 2008, Te Papa. Reproduced courtesy of the Colin McCahon Research and Publication Trust .

Colin McCahon, ‘Scared’, 1976, acrylic on paper. Purchased 2008, Te Papa. Reproduced courtesy of the Colin McCahon Research and Publication Trust.

Can you help us?
Send us your favourite quotes New Zealand artists by commenting below. The best quote will get a free copy of either Art at Te Papa, or New Zealand Art: From Cook to Contemporary or the soon to be released 2013 Te Papa Diary, all published by Te Papa Press.

Sarah Farrar
Curator of Contemporary Art

10 Responses

  1. Sarah Farrar

    Congratulations to simwrites, who provided several great quotes, for this one in particular… “It’s inspiration that drives you. It’s as simple as that. What’s it like? Like a window opening into a new world.” – Michael Smither

    This quote really struck a chord with us, possibly because of we have this painting* by Smither in Te Papa’s collection: http://collections.tepapa.govt.nz/objectdetails.aspx?oid=38721&term=michael+smither.

    Thanks to everyone who provided quotes!

    (*The painting is currently on display on Level 5 if anyone lives locally and wants to pop by and see it ‘in the flesh’.)

    Reply
  2. simon

    I love this one and wish I could remember it correctly (correct me if you do!) – it’s approvimately
    “A painter loses their subject, only to meet up with it again under another set of rules” – Sir Toss Woollaston

    Reply
  3. Adair Bruce

    “The work……. the work should speak for itself” Ralph Hotere

    Reply
  4. Sarah Farrar

    Simwrites – Thanks for those great Smither quotes. You replied so promptly – did you have a book handy, or do you have those quotes memorised?
    Hamish – I love that quote, thank you!
    Aaron – Wow, that Frame quote is quite something. Somehow, I doubt that my own emails could be considered poetry… : )

    Keep ‘em coming folks!

    Reply
  5. Aaron Erl Compton

    but seriously: my favourite is not from a visual artist but from Janet Frame–she said something along the lines of “I like email because it’s like writing a poem in the air.”

    Reply
  6. Aaron Erl Compton

    “…uuuh…wow…whoa…trippy…” Phillip Clairmont

    Reply
  7. simwrites

    “It’s inspiration that drives you. It’s as simple as that. What’s it like? Like a window opening into a new world.” – Michael Smither (yeah, I like Smither haha)

    Reply
  8. simwrites

    “It’s like a fire lit under you. You never acheive exactly what inspired you. In the end you’re left with the ashes, and that’s the painting. The painting is the thing.” – Michael Smither

    Reply
  9. Hamish Keith

    You can’t hang Mondrian upside down – all the water would run out
    Colin McCahon c1960

    Reply
  10. simwrites

    “My studios reflect what’s happening to me, my sense of place, my environment, my state of being. In my studios is where I live and work. That’s where I am. Outside of that I’m just another human being struggling to get by.” – Michael Smither

    Reply

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