On Sunday one of our greatest contemporary artists died at the age of 81 (TV news story). The artist was Ralph Hotere who’s works of art I’ve appreciatively stood in front of many times in the last few years, most recently in December. Mike Riddell began his deeply engaging essay Deep Currents of the Heart (pub in The Rite Stuff: Ritual in Contemporary Christian Worship and Ritual edited by Pete Ward) with the recall of his encounter with Hotere’s piece Black Phoenix.
For me his work has never been easy to understand. Indeed, Hotere famously declared: “…"There are very few things I can say about my work that are better than saying nothing." But, his work has always engaged me, drawn me in and made me wonder. It did something to me.
Gregory O’Brien, author of the excellent 1997 publication Hotere: Out the Black Window: Ralph Hotere’s Work with New Zealand Poets, spoke about Hotere yesterday on the radio (duration: 19mins & 41secs).