Hamish Keith presents The Big Picture

For crying out loud! What is it with Television New Zealand?

Tonight was the premier airing of Hamish Keith's discourse on art in New Zealand called The Big Picture.

Here is TVNZ's own blurb about the show:

"Art is not made for museums - it's made to be part of people's lives," asserts Hamish Keith, iconic arts commentator and presenter of The Big Picture.

This series tells the story of New Zealand art from earliest rock drawings to the present day.

For the first time, viewers will be able to watch a substantial series documenting in detail some of the most significant art works of our history.

The six one-hour episodes, which were several years in the making,…"

I find it disgraceful that an important show such as this, well made, well researched and, dare I say it, IMPORTANT. Not only for people who are interested in art but also for people who are interested in what makes New Zealand what it is (yes, it is more than rugby and tourism). What makes it worse is that The Big Picture is a central product for TVNZ in that it conforms to precisely with the government's charter for the channel it owns. Instead of a fatuous show about the trial of Penguin Books over the publication of Lady Chatterly's Lover in the 1960s - which, though it was interesting, was not NZ culture - The channel should rotate the spots. Of course it is just situations such as these that reveals the problem that having a cultural and social agenda doesn't sit well with a Barnum & Baily clause - that making money is the currency of publicly funded culture.

The simple truth is that running TVOne as a money making venture, first and foremost is another tax.

Hardly a wonder that the New Zealand Government has accumulated multi billion dollar revenue surpluses that they don't know what to do with.

Back to the show - Make a date Sunday Nights 10.25 pm.....

Eschewing 'art speak' in favour of plain language, Keith explores pivotal moments in our history through artworks that reflect the world in which they were made. The series documents an encounter between cultures and their development across the next centuries.

The show confronts New Zealand's 'cultural cringe' and the impact it has had on our art history.

Keith asserts that some conventional ideas about art need to be turned on their head and challenged.

"Art is not made for museums, it's made to be part of people's lives," says Keith. "I want to make people realise they know more about art and have more connection with it than they think. New Zealand art is the most interesting art in the world for New Zealanders because it talks to us. It speaks our language."

Record it and watch it with your kids. The best thing my parents ever did for me was to buy 'The New Zealand Heritage' partwork. I wish I still had that…anyone know where I can see a copy?


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