Anthony Davies, printmaker, is launching the latest book of his art at an event at Space Studio and Gallery on Saturday, July 29. The evening will also mark the opening of his exhibition at Space.
Anthony has published a number of books - he calls them 'catalogues' - and As The Situation Unfolds, A Survey of Works 2007-16 is a limited print run of 250.
The 192-page book is a quality publication with multiple introductions by Leafa Wilson, Curator of Art at Waikato Museum, and an in-depth study of Davies' work by art historian and critic, Dr Edward Hanfling.
For the most part, the book is filled with photographs of Anthony Davies' art with introductions and commentaries on each phase of his work.
There are essays by Maree Mills and Dr Warren Feeney.
The book is a collectors' item as well as an interesting, if sometimes disturbing, look at an artist's manifestation of his thinking.
Anthony's studio is in Guyton St, in the growing art precinct near the centre of town. The space used to be The Steak Out, premises much visited by the inebriated seeking takeaways. Now it features a large printing press bought from UCOL when its printing department closed down.
Anthony arrived from England more than 20 years ago, already an established and celebrated printmaker.
He studied at Winchester School of Art, which was near his home, and the Royal School of Art. Winchester was newly built.
"So you had a lot of young people starting out on their career," he says. "It was also very much about being in England at that time with the music and the fashion." At art school they pointed him in the direction of German Impressionism.
How did he get to New Zealand?
"I knew I had to leave sometime, so it was either America, Australia or New Zealand." He was invited to New Zealand. At 70 he has lived, and is living, a life filled with observations and contradictions. He has strong opinions on many things, including his own art and the art of others. His reading, travels, his experience and wide range of knowledge entitles him to hold and share opinions, he says.
Nor does he confine his conversations to others in the art world. His work as a labourer on building sites allows a broader perspective. His 'catalogues' he regards as important, possibly to other people. "Everybody just looks at the net these days, no-one reads. You need information, you need spark. Kids don't just need rugby heroes, they need other heroes." Anthony played rugby at school.
He's aware there's a certain arrogance in calling his books and art his legacy. Anthony often refers to his childhood, to his father made bitter by the war, a Welshman who could have broken Anthony's spirit but instead made it stronger.
"My mother had five children and she was a headmistress, so she didn't always teach. She has been my level. I have two beautiful sisters I've always got on with and who are highly intelligent, and my wife [Andrea du Chatenier] is highly intelligent. I know about strong women."
His mother is now 96. "She has lots of wisdom."
Anthony was born in Hampshire. After graduating he spent time in Italy where he won the Prix de Rome in engraving, after which he set up his own print workshop in Cardiff, and later in Belfast.
He has represented Great Britain at numerous international print biennials. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Painters and Etchers in 1994. Later that year he arrived in New Zealand as Artist in Residence at Elam School of Fine Art. In 2002 he founded the Hotspur Studio in Aramoho. His pictures tell stories.
"It's a narrative. When I was going to Art School, that was not the thing to do."
He sees his work as still evolving.
"I want it to become more severe, if anything." He likes German art which, he says, goes for the jugular. "It doesn't ponce around. I do it for myself and as long as I can show it, that is the ultimate. I have to impress. Perhaps that's the idea of the catalogue."
He sends his books around the country and that often results in invitations to exhibit. He reads newspapers, listens to the radio, doesn't drive so he is free, as passenger, to observe.
"I have a curiosity about what's happening in this world." It shows in his art, much of which is commentary on current events and political situations. "My work has recurring themes that have occupied my life. But I think there's a lot more to comment about. I sometimes think you can walk around something, and you have to get to the hub of it."
Another love in his life is his Dalmatian dogs. He has two now, but he has had six altogether.
"You have to be settled in your mind to have a dog."
As The Situation Unfolds, A Survey of Works 2007-16 will be available at Paige's Book Gallery. Anthony has dedicated the book to his mother, Edith.