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JS Parker: Plain Songs (2018)

JS Parker: Plain Songs (2018)

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  • Sat 3 Nov ’18, 11:00am – 3:00pm
  • Mon 5 Nov ’18, 9:00am – 5:00pm
  • Tue 6 Nov ’18, 9:00am – 5:00pm
  • Wed 7 Nov ’18, 9:00am – 5:00pm
  • Thu 8 Nov ’18, 9:00am – 5:00pm
  • Fri 9 Nov ’18, 9:00am – 5:00pm
  • Sat 10 Nov ’18, 11:00am – 3:00pm
  • Mon 12 Nov ’18, 9:00am – 5:00pm
  • Tue 13 Nov ’18, 9:00am – 5:00pm
  • Wed 14 Nov ’18, 9:00am – 5:00pm
  • Thu 15 Nov ’18, 9:00am – 5:00pm
  • Fri 16 Nov ’18, 9:00am – 5:00pm
  • Sat 17 Nov ’18, 11:00am – 3:00pm
  • Mon 19 Nov ’18, 9:00am – 5:00pm
  • Tue 20 Nov ’18, 9:00am – 5:00pm
  • Wed 21 Nov ’18, 9:00am – 5:00pm
  • Thu 22 Nov ’18, 9:00am – 5:00pm
  • Fri 23 Nov ’18, 9:00am – 5:00pm
  • Sat 24 Nov ’18, 11:00am – 3:00pm
  • Mon 26 Nov ’18, 9:00am – 5:00pm
  • Tue 27 Nov ’18, 9:00am – 5:00pm
  • Wed 28 Nov ’18, 9:00am – 5:00pm
  • View all sessions


Milford Galleries Dunedin, 18 Dowling St, Dunedin


All Ages

Ticket Information:

  • Free Admission

Following his year as the Frances Hodgkins Fellow in in 1975, John Shotton (JS) Parker worked as a fulltime artist and in 2002 was awarded the ONZM in recognition of his services to painting. He lived and worked in Marlborough until his death in August 2017, and his paintings reflect his engagement with his surroundings as well as with his own painting practice.

A close observer of his environment, Parker endeavoured to catch the subtleties of texture and the play of light with his layers of oil paint. At the same time his works clearly explore modernist tenets of the flat surface, painterly gesture, and colour field harmonies.

The surfaces of Parker’s paintings suggest furrowed land and rippled water, and the play of light through the atmosphere, but they also perform as material objects. Layers of oil paint track the physical act of painting and there is a tangible sense of the medium’s viscosity and fluidity.

One of the earliest – and certainly the largest – painting in this exhibition is the 2004 work Plain Song: For the Painters at St Ives. Peter Simpson comments that Parker was “alert to the multiple connotations of words” and notes two allusions that specifically relate to the artist’s ongoing Plain Song series: the geographical plains of the Wairau Valley and Canterbury that Parker spent most of his life in and the subtle simplicity of medieval plainsong, in which a small number of elements are repeated and rearranged to create complex harmonies. Each of these references can be seen in St Ives, which is a meditative reflection on tonality and texture, and evokes the rich heat of summer rising off the land.

From one of Parker’s last series, Plain Song: Light Through Red (2017) celebrates the energy of colour. Tethered by a central yellow line, a dominant red square seems to hang suspended over the background greys. Each element of the painting is a complex blend of hue and tone, made richer still by the ridged smears of the palette knife Parker used to apply his paint.

The simple vertical composition of Plain Song: Columns of Light - In the Blue Air (2016) allows the materiality of the paint and the physical movements of the artist to shine. We can see the corrugations where paint has been swiped over and through earlier mark-making and how Parker has softened dark emerald green with creams and blues to produce a lush pool of shifting colour.

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