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New book explores work of prominent NZ artist

New book explores work of prominent NZ artist

9 December, 2013

The prints of New Zealand artist Barry Cleavin are the focus of a new book published by Canterbury University Press.

Lateral Inversions: The Prints of Barry Cleavin explores a selection of Cleavin’s prints from 1966 to 2012, demonstrating the range of his talent and providing significant new insights into his work and thematic concerns.

The book’s author, Melinda Johnston, has researched Cleavin’s work for more than ten years and started looking at his prints during her honours year at the University of Canterbury.

“I have loved Barry’s prints for a long time. I remember being really impressed when I first saw his exhibition The Elements of Doubt at the McDougall Art Gallery back in 1997. Even though I have been looking at his prints for ten years, they still fascinate me, there are so many layers of meaning to discover.”

Johnston hopes that the book will introduce Cleavin’s prints to a new generation as well as reacquaint those who may have known his prints in earlier decades.

“Barry’s prints expose the discrepancy between appearance and reality, promoting a wider view of our existence and indicating his profound engagement with the nature of the human condition.”

“We’re inviting viewers to enter Barry Cleavin’s topsy-turvy world, where meanings are not fixed, shadows are distorted, word and image slip back and forth and the discrepancy between pretence and reality is brought to the fore.”

The book is lavishly illustrated with more than 120 colour plates and demonstrates Cleavin’s remarkable output over nearly five decades. The selection of prints tells the story of his artistic career.

“As well as my own love of these prints, Barry is a kind of elder-statesman of printmaking in New Zealand and this book is long overdue.”

The book also includes an essay by the late T. L. Rodney Wilson, who was a close friend of the artist for many decades.

The publication or Lateral Inversions was supported by a grant from Creative New Zealand.

About the author:
Melinda Johnston holds a doctorate from University College London, where she studied the political prints and cartoons of James Boswell. She was previously lecturer in art history at the University of Canterbury and was exhibitions manager for the University’s School of Fine Arts.


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