Gregory O'Brien, curator of The Imaginative Life and Times of Graham Percy, will share the exciting stories behind this unique exhibition.
O'Brien is one of New Zealand's most prolific contributors to both arts and literature. He is also a poet, editor and painter.
Born in Matamata, New Zealand, in 1961, Gregory O’Brien spent much of his early life in Auckland, migrating south to Wellington in 1990, where he still lives with his partner, poet Jenny Bornholdt.
He graduated in Art History and English from The University of Auckland, was Frank Sargeson Fellow in 1988 and Victoria University of Wellington’s Writer in Residence in 1995. In 2008 he was a guest at “Les Belles Etrangeres” Festival, France, where, with Jenny Bornholdt, he read in Paris, Marseilles, Arles, Nantes and Lille.
As well as writing poetry, fiction and non-fiction, O’Brien has exhibited widely as a painter. Between 1997 and 2009 he was a curator at the City Gallery, Wellington. Between 2003 and 2006 he wrote on New Zealand art for Australian Art Review. He currently contributes regularly to Artist Profile (Sydney) and has contributed a series of essays about New Zealand arts and letters to P. N. Review (UK). O’Brien is a contributing editor to the American literary annual Fulcrum (Cambridge, Massachusetts). He has edited issues of Landfall, Sport and, in 2004, edited a 50-page New Zealand poetry supplement for Fulcrum. O’Brien’s poems were incorporated into a fashion range by leading New Zealand clothes designer Doris De Pont. He has also worked with letterpress printers, visual artists, typographers, composers, musicians, film-makers and other artists exploring new possibilities for poetry.
He has co-edited numerous books, including the anthologies the Oxford Anthology of New Zealand Poetry in English, (Winner, 1997 Montana New Zealand Book Award for Poetry), My Heart Goes Swimming: New Zealand Love Poems and Big Weather: Poems of Wellington, as well as on fiction works such as the award-winning Parihaka: The Art of Passive Resistance (2001) and A Nest of Singing Birds.
His most recent art books include A Micronaut in the Wide World: The Imaginative Life of Graham Percy (AUP, 2011) – an accompanying major exhibition of ex-pat Kiwi artist Graham Percy’s work is touring New Zealand until 2013 – Back and Beyond: New Zealand Painting for the Young and Curious (AUP), Winner of the 2009 NZ Post Book Award for Children and Young Adults (Non-Fiction) and Welcome to the South Seas: Contemporary New Zealand Art for Young People (AUP) – which won the 2005 Elsie Locke Award, the Non-Fiction Category of the 2005 New Zealand Post Book Awards for Children and Young Adults, and was highly commended in the Best Book, Best Cover and Best Typography categories of the Spectrum Print Book Design Awards 2005.
His new book Beauties of the Octagonal Pool is his first collection of poems for seven years and will be published by Auckland University Press in February 2012. In 2011, in company with other artists and writers, O’Brien voyaged to Tonga via the Kermadecs on HMS Otago and a number of the poems in this new book were written on the voyage.
To attend this fascinating talk, please contact the museum, ph 07 350 1814, for bookings. Tickets are $5 plus museum admission, however museum admission is free for locals.
Gregory O'Brien (2009), supplied by subject
Graham Percy, The New Zealand Artist Abroad, 2003, ink and pencil, 760 x 560 mm. Wellington City Council Art Collection. Used with permission of the Estate of Graham Percy.
Graham Percy, The young Modigliani . . . , 2004, ink, crayon and pencil on cardboard, 385 x 265 mm. Used with permission of the Estate of Graham Percy.
The Imaginative Life and Times of Graham Percy is curated and developed by Gregory O'Brien in partnership with Exhibition Services Tours, in association with City Gallery Wellington and Gus Fisher Gallery, the University of Auckland. All artworks courtesy of the Graham Percy Family Trust.