Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Poem by Wendy Grace Dawson (now Allen) in response to "Toss in Greymouth" by New Zealand Artist Colin McCahon

Dialogue with Toss Woollaston and Colin McCahon, written by Wendy Grace Dawson (now Allen)

Performed at The Suter Gallery, Nelson, New Zealand, June 14th and 15th 2002

A collaborative performance with composer Ian MacDonald, cellist Kate Sherwood, Dialogue with Toss Woollaston and Colin McCahon written and performed by Wendy Grace Dawson (now Allen).

This poem and performance is in response to the painting Toss in Greymouth 1959, by Colin McCahon, held in The Suter Gallery Collection, Nelson, New Zealand.

About the Painting and the Performance.

Toss in Greymouth by Colin McCahon (1919-1986) was created in response to a letter by artist friend Sir Tosswill (Toss) Woollaston (1910-1998). Colin McCahon subsequently gave this painting to Toss Woollaston where it hung for many years in the Woollaston family home, until 1984 when it was gifted by Sir Tosswill Woollaston to The Suter Gallery in Nelson.

As research for this poem, I interviewed a friend of Woollaston's who knew the history of this painting - thanks Gurli Hansen for that interview. I also researched material about both Toss Woollaston and Colin McCahon. It was discovered that the text in the painting includes a inconsistency by Colin McCahon from the original letter by Toss Woollaston. Dialogue with Toss Woollaston and Colin McCahon acknowledges and reflects this difference. It was a privledge to have members of the Woollaston family at the collaborative performances held at The Suter Gallery.


Dialogue with Toss Woollaston and Colin McCahon

written by Wendy Grace Dawson (now Allen)

I

Alit on the flax a Tui at dusk.
And broke the late evening open with song.

II

Look at my true New Zealand.

Unpicturesque ordinariness.
Barren empty landscape.

Rounded hills.
Spaces between.

I am dealing with the essential monotony of this land.
A landscape with too few lovers.

Tau cross.
Figure of Toss.
Stands.
A fellow lover of that land.

III

Stormy skies.
Brooding, moody, solemn.
Glimpse of a headland.

Earth wrestling with sky.
Painter wresting with canvas.

IV

Light separating from darkness.
Painting's essential task.

I am the source of the light in this darkend landscape.

Words made clear, and spoken directly to the viewer.
A conversation in paint.

Look at my true New Zealand.
My vision, my invention, my discovery.

V

Alit on the flax a Tui at dusk,
And shot the late evening open with song.


© Copywrite Wendy Grace Dawson 2002

For more information about this painting please check out:
The Earth's waters are both boundaries and pathways for peoples, objects and ideas.
Fumio Nanjo

2 comments:

susanmulder said...

This was wonderful Wendy! I would love to have seen the performance-hope you do more.

Wendy Grace Allen (nee Dawson) - Border Crossing Art Project Curator and Artist said...

There was a video made that I'd like to track down. I really enjoyed the collaborative process and the performance. I had good responses from people in the audience. I'm not trained in poetry so I was taking a big risk with this piece. Thanks for taking the time to comment ;)