How to write about contemporary art – Gilda Williams

How to write

Artists and art writers take note: No matter how good you are at writing, you could probably do with reading Gilda Williams’ How to write about contemporary art.  Williams book details the dos and don’ts of art writing.  She identifies common pitfalls and highlights good writing (by usefully pointing out what it is that makes it good).

Williams’ own writing style is accessible, she divides the text into neat sections covering key points, and breaks up the text with bullet points, quotable sentences in red, and samples of other peoples writing. While recognising that good writing often breaks the rules, Williams lays out a concise framework to hone your art writing style.

This is the kind of book I would like to keep close, to remind myself not to be complacent about writing.

Compilation: Hamilton in June

From Peter Dornauf’s review of Between the lines at the Wallace Gallery Morrinsville:

“In the same show, Justine Giles takes marking making with ink and watercolour to photorealist heights so that the simulation of a postcard or page of found text is replicated in such immaculate detail that the distinction between the artefact and art is obliterated. There is nothing here “between the lines”. Reality and simulation are one.”


There is so much art activity going on at the moment in the Waikato that this review, of necessity, has turned into a compilation album.

The Wallace Gallery in Morrinsville has become the hot place to be and be seen, and recently a group show entitled, Between the Lines, show-cased the work of artist, Rose Meyer. Her unique process of mark making involved the use of a device that creates an automatist line Max Ernst would be proud of.

Her trick to producing a random series of lines on paper – a chaos of swarming marks or a bird’s nest of linear configurations that fill up an A3 size page, involves an ingenious methodology.

She built a little ‘tray’ on wheels, punched a hole in the middle through which she fixes a pen. This device is then placed inside an A3 box with matching size paper and then the…

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Change in perspective: Between the lines

Justine Giles I wrote this in a language I can't read

Justine Giles, 2014. I wrote this in a language I can’t read. [Cut-out and graphite on vellum, 594 x 841mm]

I was asked once, in my undergrad years, if I only valued work I had laboured over. At the time, without any hesitation, I said “yes”. It seemed so obvious then that hard work = worthiness.

This work came to me all too easily, springing fully formed into my head as if someone had whispered it to me, as if it already existed and just needed me to carry it into the waking world. Although the cutting represents some careful labour, when I think about this work it’s to puzzle over how uncharacteristically quickly it came together.

This is the work that let me trust my instincts.

The hard part of this work has always been in its installation. It is so understated that it can disappear (it’s almost impossible to document).

This is the third time it has been installed.  The first time was at Whitecliffe for the Masters mid degree assessment, the second time as a finalist for the 2015 Glaister Ennor Award at Sanderson Contemporary. Now it is showing as part of Between the Lines at the Wallace Gallery Morrinsville.

I feel like in this install it is finally complete. Positioned on a short end wall, it subtly invites a side view where the tonal shadow gives way to the writing that can be seen traced in light on the wall.  This is how it always should have been shown: all it needed was a different perspective.

Javier Marias: Dark Back of Time

If it weren’t for books, it would be almost as if none of these names had ever existed, and if it weren’t for the booksellers who time and again rescue and put back into circulation and resell the silent, patient voices which in spite of everything refuse to fall silent entirely and forever, voices that are inexhaustible because they make no effort to emit sounds and be heard, written voices, mute, persistent voices like the one now filling these pages day by day over the course of many hours when no one knows anything about me or sees me or spies on me, and so it can seem as if I had never been born. (Marias, 1988, p. 92).