Francis McWhannell Writer and curator


No other way

On Paul Johns’ BEEN HERE LONG?


Interesting what your parents say to you at the end. I said to my mother, ‘I’m probably not the type of son that you would have aspired to have,’ to which she replied, ‘I wouldn’t have wanted you any other way.’ —Paul Johns, 2021 BEEN HERE LONG? is the first solo exhibition by Paul Johns to be held in Tāmaki Makaurau in two decades. It represents a compact survey, spanning almost his entire...


Jimmy Maʻiaʻi


In Samoasonite, early-career artist Jimmy Maʻiaʻi explores his Samoan/Palagi heritage and questions the term ‘Afakasi’ (‘half-caste’), often used to refer to a person of such heritage in a derogatory manner. The title of the show combines ‘Sāmoa’ with ‘Samsonite’, a luggage brand. Central to the presentation is a kind of mass-produced woven plastic bag that is sometimes pejoratively called the...

In and between

On Luca Nicholas’sTriple Axel


Triple Axel is Luca Nicholas’s first solo exhibition and the culmination of his study at Auckland University of Technology, where he recently completed his Master of Visual Arts degree. The print-based works on show are the product of experimentation with diverse processes and concepts, as Nicholas has attempted to develop a mode of making that explores queer experiences with ‘pathos, humour, and...

No end in sight


To look at Bushmiller as an architect is entirely appropriate, for Nancy is, in a sense, a blue-print for a comic strip. Walls, floors, rocks, trees, ice-cream cones, motion lines, midgets and principals are carefully positioned with no need for further embellishment. And they are laid out with one purpose in mind—to get the gag across. Minimalist? Formalist? Structuralist? Cartoonist![1] —Mark...

What looms large

On Daegan Wells’ Bush coat


It’s not about making the best thing, it’s about that process of learning, of having a conversation with someone who knows what they’re doing.[1] —Daegan Wells Truth be told, I do not know what a bush coat is. I picture something akin to a Swanndri. Heavy cloth, with squares of saturated colour neat as pastureland seen from the sky. The sort of jacket that I imagine might be worn by a character...

I subjects and we objects

Elisabeth Pointon’s WHERE TO FROM HERE


Elisabeth Pointon sends me a video via Instagram. She has just received the central work for her new show, WHERE TO FROM HERE—no question mark. On screen, a fan fills an enormous inflatable form the dusty black of tyres. The camera/phone, presumably wielded by the artist, moves along the face of the work to reveal the expression ‘BIG TIME.’—with full stop. The text puts me in mind of Microsoft...

Changing of the art guard

Three early-career artists from Aotearoa


Owen Connors Owen Connors (born 1992) is a Tāmaki Makaurau-based artist and poet with an interest in the mystical, and in craft and cooperative making processes. Their superb 2019 exhibition, SISSYMANCY!, at play_station in Te Whanganui-a-Tara, comprised a series of patchwork and quilted banners. The works were intended to recall quilts produced collaboratively in commemoration of people who...

A dematerialised alternative

The inaugural May Fair


Art fairs are curious creatures. Whether you’re dealing with a lavish behemoth like Frieze London or a more modest entity like Auckland Art Fair, the general template tends to remain the same. A panoply of galleries gathered together for a short period of time, competing to see who can most successfully transform a basic booth into something special, memorable. A crush of people. The glossiest of...

Refining abundance

Considering Queer Algorithms


I recline on pieces of a knobbly kind of foam I think is used to soften ambient noise in recording studios. Beneath me is an expanse of printed water, doubled like a Rorschach blot. It flies up at my feet, begins to curl, and dissolves into a sheet of balloons, evocative of both sea spume and an end-of-night balloon drop in a club. A few of the globes are puckering. It’s May, and the party has...

James Wylie

Contending with consequences


Aotearoa artist James Wylie uses video to examine the nature and consequences of contemporary technologies. His works tend to combine real-world footage with digital animations of his own creation, hinting at overarching narratives, while resisting straightforward interpretation. At times, Wylie foregrounds the close interaction between humans and computers, or between natural and artificial...

Francis McWhannell Writer and curator


Francis McWhannell (b. 1985, Aotearoa New Zealand) is a writer and curator based in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland. He is curator of the Fletcher Trust Collection, a major private collection of Aotearoa art founded in 1962.