Thursday, February 14, 2008

The Artist's Room

I’ve just found that The Artist’s Room, the gallery on the corner of Dowling St, in Dunedin, has its own website. Of course, that’s just as you’d expect these days, but it hadn’t occurred to me to check it out before. The only thing I don’t like about the site is that a lot of the background is black with white print. Hard on the eyes, I say.
However, the quality of the art displayed on the Artists’ page (one artist in the title, plenty of artists on the page) is superb. I went in there the other day and found that the owner, Michelle (don’t know her other name) was beginning to set up the next exhibition. It’s works by Neil Driver, whose realism is a delight to the eye. I happened to say to Michelle that his work reminded me of Steve Harris, who’d long ago gone to Australia to make his fortune (and has). She enthusiastically agreed – enthusiastically, because she happened to be emailing him there and then! Very serendipitical.
Steve Harris’ work has a dark quality to it, whereas Driver’s seems more full of light. You always feel with Harris as though something odd is just out of sight.
His work is great. I got to know it when he used to bring his young daughter to the daycare centre I was running, back in the late seventies. Harris had an unassuming quality about him, but is an artist of terrific strength.
No doubt his daughter is now getting on for thirty, which seems strange, since I last saw her when she was just a nipper.
Michelle has sold some of Harris’ work from The Artist’s Room, even though most of his painting gets snapped up in Oz. She has some more of it coming for a realismo exhibition that’s happening in late March. I’ll definitely be going down to see it.

I almost forgot to mention: the bookshop I used to run was formerly situated beside the gallery’s premises. In fact, I used to climb the stairs that now lead to the gallery to go to the loo (!) [Sometime I must write about that building. It had character.] The door you can just see in the photo with the round window above it was where the shop was. It now has a restaurant in it.

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