Hell Here Now: The Gallipoli Diary of Alfred Cameron

Hell Here Now: The Gallipoli Diary of Alfred Cameron
Paintings by Bob Kerr
March 20th-May 23rd, Pataka Museum of Arts and Cultures

Obviously there’s many Gallipoli diaries around – this exhibit reproduces just over a fortnight’s worth of entries by soldier Alfred Cameron in the form of ten large, vivid oil paintings of the Gallipoli beach by artist, author and cartoonist Bob Kerr. There’s also a display of Cameron’s medals, his bugle and a photo of him on his horse.

There’s some great stuff at Pataka Museum in Porirua,including an informative exhibition of photographs from Bamilyan, Porirua’s battered sister city in Afghanistan and a touring exhibition from Otago Museum of West African masks, sculptures and textiles. Thing aren’t as, well, dumbed-down as they are in Te Papa, and the national college choir was practicing in the huge wooden foyer, which was amazing. It reminded me of the Forty-Part Motet exhibit by Janet Cardiff in the City Gallery, which reproduces a forty-piece choir singing Spem in Alium Nunquam Habui through forty speakers arranged around the gallery.

People have been enthusing about this exhibit for months, but hearing a live choir, being in the same room as living, breathing singers, is more impressive. Forty-Part Motet isn’t an object of beauty, but it recreates a moment of beauty. It’s a work of art because it accurately reproduces an emotionally resonant performance, in the same way that a photograph is a work of art because it reproduces a specific moment of a specific place. The creation of the work is more technical, less “artistic” than making a painting, but that shouldn’t matter.

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