A lot can happen in a 24-Hour Art Jam.

Today (Saturday), starting at 10am, a bunch of Whanganui artists will create work with the deadline for completion in 24 hours — at 10am on Sunday.

Come along and watch the artists as they work their creative process, with live music from local musicians and choice DJ sets to keep the mood as the day picks up pace.

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Space Studio and Gallery are hosting this event which will be followed by an auction of some of the work on Sunday evening with sale proceeds going to support the Whanganui Women's Network.

This event is something of a first for a New Zealand gallery but there is historical precedence.

In January 1835, the British artist Turner submitted an incomplete work titled The Burning of the House of Lords and Commons 16th October 1834 to the British Institute.

It was barely recognisable as a painting with "a mere dab of several colours and without form and void like chaos before the creation".

Early one morning in February, Turner arrived in top hat and scruffy frock-coat carrying a small box of colours and brushes.

Another artist, E V Rippingille, described the scene "as like a magician performing" as the public gathered to watch Turner take to the canvas.

He created a crowd both around him and in the painting, incorporating the people watching him into the scene.

At times Turner would chat to another artist Williams Etty who was working alongside him and who, no doubt, felt completely upstaged by Turner's sense of drama.


The great artists toiled furiously non-stop for three hours.

Witnesses noted that he was seen to be rolling a transparent lump of something over the paint. Rippinggille was heard to ask another artist what Turner was doing and was told by a colleague, Sir Augustus Wall Callcot, that whoever was to ask this would be "Sorry they had done it".

This says more than enough about both Turner's talent and his showmanship.

His final gesture was adding an enigmatic "NO" on a placard held by one of those in the crowd scene watching the seat of government being consumed by flames.

Turner then packed his gear and left the building without a word to the gawping audience.

Check out the painting — it is astonishing and it emerged and came to life in an intensive burst of energy before the eyes of an assembled audience.

Whether Space Gallery's 24 Hour Art Jam creates a similar controlled explosion of energy is unknown but the mix of talent, passion and skill is quite likely to go off.


Cultural appropriation is a modern critique but the actual practice is nothing new.
In the arts, especially music, it has been happening for ever.

The problem is this has tended to go one way with more powerful influences incorporating minority styles into their compositions.

Western cultural carpet-baggers have often taken the bits they like from others without crediting the sources while pocketing the earnings.

A contemporary example is the musical influences brought by slaves to the United States.

Forbidden their traditional instruments, the slaves adapted what they could find and forged a new sound that became blues and jazz.

Record companies saw this music was popular but prejudice made hard to sell unless recast through white singers.

Elvis Presley would never have become a star without the theft by stealth of the songs and sounds of poor black people.

This raises a crucial question? Can a white man/woman sing the blues?

Should a person who has never been to Jamaica play reggae? Should someone with absolutely no Irish heritage sing Celtic folksongs? Does this mean that only Italian opera singers should be allowed to perform The Marriage of Figaro?

The answer is a mix of respect for the origins of a musical style and giving credit where it is due while sharing the no-boundaries wonder of music as widely as possible.

*Terry Sarten (aka Tel) is a Whanganui based musician, writer and social worker — feedback: tgs@inspire.net.nz