The next lecture will be on Sunday, 22nd October, by Dr Mervyn Duffy,
Acting Principal of The Good Shepherd College, Ponsonby, Auckland.
He will introduce us to an 1840s Sketchbook of the South Pacific .
At the GAPS venue in Avondale we have copies of books by Tony Watkins available for sale:
- Piglet the Great of Karaka Bay
- The Human House
- Thinking it Through
At the GAPS ARTS venue there is a new display of recent paintings by Helen Momota.
These can be seen at the advertised meetings, or at other times by contacting John Lewis (ph. 828 5579)
The 2016 and previous years' lectures are in listed in the CALENDAR.
The regular lectures are usually monthly (see the CALENDAR), on a four-weekly cycle. The usual Sunday sessions
start at 7.00 pm, have an interval, and finish by 9.00 pm, with further opportunity for informal discussion; supper provided.
The lectures and events are open to all, and are free. There are no subscriptions or membership requirements.
Bookings are not required, unless requested in specific publicity. Enrolment may be requested for Courses.
ABOUT GAPS ARTS
The centrality of the European cultural heritage underpinning Western society has been largely taken for granted. It now seems to be rather marginalised or simply neglected. A self-indulgent pop culture is ubiquitous. Opportunities to enjoy and keep alive the finest values and insights expressed in the thought and arts of two millenia are few in the busyness of daily life. There seems to be no space in the calendar for such things, and one actually loses touch with them anyway. GAPS ARTS is about sharing the European heritage, and seeing many strands as parts of a whole which has meaning.
Though education aims to equip one with knowledge, gaps remain in understanding. Gaps in credibility seem to increase as we try to grasp big issues. It is the hard work of interdisciplinary studies to break down compartmentalisation, to transcend narrowness. Rather than acquiring mere information and knowledge we can participate in the vision and wisdom of thinkers and artists as we foster appreciation of their work.
Putting these objectives into effect is particularly shaped around fields of study and thought which may seem fairly inaccessible and neglected, yet significant for offering valuable insights. The focus here is on architecture, visual arts, theology and philosophy, literature and poetry, the medieval period, and the twentieth century. Following this the approach is theocentric rather than anthropocentric. It is good if familiarity with visual arts, or with literature and poetry can be through immersion in and direct enjoyment of the works themselves. Judging artistic merit, knowing what to do about beauty, how to transform 'creative' work, and deepen participation—is to bridge gaps. Our attempts are helped by those who have explained this in the past. It has to be with intelligence and integrity.
A RICH CULTURAL HERITAGE
In our culture—of liberal education, intellectual enquiry, creative arts, etc—there seem to be big omissions, perhaps hardly recognized. It is a culture which ignores much of its heritage as irrelevant or thinks it too hard to engage with. The GAPS ARTS forum helps to open up some very rich resources of wisdom, such as from the Middle Ages—extraordinary architecture, arts, theology, and poetry—and also from twentieth-century writers. The subject areas here are not rigid compartments, but do engage particularly the heritage of Western Europe and are worth sharing, because of things that really matter.
‘THE GOOD OF THE INTELLECT’
—Dante quotes Aristotle as saying, ‘Truth is the good of the intellect.’
It calls for engagement of the intellect—while involving the heart and spirit. It’s for people who want some of the sharp, open, enquiry of university. It might also cover some gaps in university curricula, for in the humanities these topics receive little attention. The topics are matters for enjoyment, rather than controversy. Emphasis is on positive, affirmative discoveries. To make unfamiliar territory accessible. To provoke expansive, appreciative thought. Without exams, assignments, expectations.
A PLACE FOR ENJOYMENT
The format is typically a monthly gathering for a lecture, with discussion interspersed or following. The place for these events is the humble Grading-And-Packing-Shed. It is a venue and forum outside the various institutions and organizations, enjoying informality and freedom; simple structure; but no infrastructure, nothing to join. You are welcome to attend and participate.
‘THE MIND IN LOVE’
—Dante’s mind is caught by beauty; his mind is enamoured by the vision.
Young people with their agile minds are especially welcome. We fall in love when we’re young—with people, and ideas, and things. It is good to be able to stay in love. Even in maturity we can be passionate about new discoveries. The secret is well-known. Dante was in love with Beatrice with his whole mind, he said, as he was with God. In the Middle Ages artists and builders worked with skill of mind and hand because of love. Things, and people, are unified by love, and ideas connected. It has been called ‘co-inherence’.
BRIDGES TO SOMEWHERE
Using a framework of topics and insights such as this forum provides, a multitude of things can be integrated in many different ways. Breadth of view was one of the strengths of medieval thinkers, and of notable twentieth-century figures, in their personal visions expressed in their lifetime’s work. The results are works of ‘statement’ rather than ‘search’; they made bridges across the gap between speculative thinking and spiritual realities. Whenever we see something that displays an intrinsic goodness or beauty, we can recognize the process and achievement of making a bridge, uniting and clarifying things, giving meaning. In the GAPS environment you may sharpen this in stimulating exchanges and quiet reflections of truthful search leading to true statement.
OUR LIFE is a narrative. If we are fully alive we write another chapter in a very long story, knowing that we in our turn will pass our story on to others. Anyone who loses their memory, and forgets their story, does not know who they are. They may go on living and yet they are not alive. We call this Alzheimer’s. It is also possible for a nation to lose its memory. We might call this National Alzheimer’s. The resolve to never forget means that we must constantly tell our own unique story, for it is in the retelling that we remember. Architecture is part of our narrative. It is our own story. If someone, some institution, or some corporation, takes away our story, or our architecture, we cease to be.
GAPS ARTS, now in its fifth year, focuses, as it always has, on remembering.
In 2014 issues of personal sovereignty and national sovereignty will be more important than ever. Auckland’s Unitary Plan is essentially concerned with the loss of personal identity. TPPA is essentially concerned with the loss of national identity. The 2014 Venice Architecture Biennale is to be a celebration of the way in which modernism has destroyed vernacular. As the curator Rem Koolhaas puts his ‘provocation’: '
Ideally, we would want the representative countries to engage a single theme – Absorbing Modernity: 1914-2014 – and to show, each in their own way, the process of the erasure of national characteristics in favour of the almost universal adoption of a single modern language in a separate repertoire of typologies.'
Hoping that we will not suffer from Alzheimer’s will not prevent the onset of the disease. We need instead to constantly remember who we are through telling our own unique, quirky, eccentric, wonderful stories so that we, and all around us, can look forward to a cantankerous, wicked and happy old age. Welcome to GAPS. — Tony Watkins
Tony Watkins, M.Arch, Dip.TP, FNZIA, RIBA, was Senior Lecturer in Town Planning, School of Architecture, University of Auckland. He is a well-known teacher and author. His website is www.tony-watkins.com
‘The lowest point of the highest touches the highest point of the lowest.’
– Thomas Aquinas
Only partly by design, more by serendipity, there has been a certain coherence in the eleven lectures this year (see the CALENDAR).
What connections can we see between N.Z. baches, Medieval love of nature, Mediterranean villages, a Norwegian feast, the end of desire, universal spatial markers, beauty apprehended, and Eden reclaimed?
We will draw out some themes that have emerged: contemplation and action; participation in the world; connecting earthly and ideal worlds; the significance of places; the integrity of an artist; the authenticity of beauty.
Humans seek special meeting places where one world touches the other—where gaps become connections. There will be a time of discussion.
An a cappella singing group will present spirituals and gospel songs.
A series of whimsical and poignant paintings of baches by the sea, cribs in the countryside, and other possible things, which show (as cannot be described) Harry's gentle, quirky, and often very pointed humour.
(N.B. 2016: A few of these small gems are available for purchase.)
A collection of some of Harry's more recent paintings is on display, and they may be purchased. These are predominantly landscapes which, he said, reflect his associations with the Coromandel hill country.
Many were done in 2014, and he was painting up till early 2015. After a short illness he died in July, 2015.
Harry also wrote poetry, five collections of which were published:
Poet in Solitude (1968)
Evening Inlet (1971)
6 Poems (1972)
Brother Oblivion (1972)
And Hens Have Hearts (1984).