Peter Simpson and Jill Trevelyan will be joining us 12-12:45pm Wednesday 30th October 2019 to discuss Peter’s new biography, Colin McCahon: There is Only One Direction, Vol. I 1919–1959 (Auckland University Press). All welcome. Read on for Peter’s excellent assortment of book and author recommendations including Unity favourites, Flannery O’Connor and Cormac McCarthy.
ABOUT THE BOOK
The extraordinary first volume of a two-volume work chronicling forty-five years of painting by our most important artist, Colin McCahon.
Colin McCahon (1919–1987) was New Zealand’s greatest twentieth-century artist. Through landscapes, biblical paintings and abstraction, the introduction of words and Māori motifs, McCahon’s work came to define a distinctly New Zealand modernist idiom. Collected and exhibited extensively in Australasia and Europe, McCahon’s work has not been assessed as a whole for thirty-five years.
In this richly illustrated two-volume work, written in an accessible style and published to coincide with the centenary of Colin McCahon’s birth, leading McCahon scholar, writer and curator Dr Peter Simpson chronicles the evolution of the artist’s work over McCahon’s entire forty-five-year career.
Simpson has enjoyed unprecedented access to McCahon’s extensive correspondence with friends, family, dealers, patrons and others. This material enables us to begin to understand McCahon’s work as the artist himself conceived it. Each volume includes over three-hundred illustrations in colour, with a generous selection of reproductions of McCahon’s work (many never previously published), plus photographs, catalogue covers, facsimiles and other illustrative material.
This will be the definitive work on New Zealand’s leading artist for many years to come.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr Peter Simpson is a former associate professor of English at the University of Auckland. He is the author of numerous critically acclaimed books including Colin McCahon: The Titirangi Years, 1953–1959 (AUP, 2007) and Bloomsbury South: The Arts in Christchurch 1933–1953 (AUP, 2016). He has also curated three significant exhibitions of McCahon’s work. He received the Prime Minister’s Award for Literary Achievement (non-fiction) in 2017.
‘New Zealand’s foremost artist Colin McCahon is many things to many people: modernist, visionary, environmentalist, shaman, preacher, rustic provincialist, bicultural trailblazer, painter-poet, graffiti artist, teacher, maverick . . . Peter Simpson’s account interrogates as well as accommodates all of these possibilities. Guiding us year by year through the artist’s career, he offers a ground-breaking overview of the life’s work of a tenacious, brilliant and endlessly fascinating figure.’ – Gregory O’Brien
WHY DO YOU WRITE?
For fun, fame and fortune and to keep boredom at bay.
WHERE AND HOW DO YOU WRITE?
In my study, on a laptop, several hours a day, depending on the state of play of the book underway.
WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING AND HOW DID YOU DISCOVER THE BOOK(S)?
Henry James, The Tragic Muse, Ivan Turgenev, Fathers and Sons, Cézanne’s Letters, books on Frank Stella, Picasso and John Kinder, poetry by Gerard Manley Hopkins, Amy Clampitt and Fleur Adcock: old favourites, discoveries in second-hand shops, new publications.
WHO ARE YOUR FAVOURITE WRITERS AND WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT THEM?
In recent months, William Faulkner, Henry James, Flannery O’Connor, Ian McEwan, Sally Rooney, John Cheever, Cormac McCarthy, Anton Chekhov: books that are well written and cut deep. Next year will be different.
WHAT BOOKS ARE ON YOUR BEDSIDE TABLE?
About thirty, mostly fiction, poetry, biography and art history.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE BOOK-TO-FILM ADAPTATION?
The Leopard by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, movie by Visconti, or Ronald Hugh Morrieson’s Came a Hot Friday (Ian Mune with Peter Bland).
WHAT BOOK HAVE YOU RE-READ THE MOST AND WHY?
Probably Middlemarch by George Eliot, the best novel in English.
WHO IS YOUR FAVOURITE LITERARY CHARACTER?
Tess in Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the d’Urbervilles or the Te Whakinga Kid in Morrieson’s Came a Hot Friday.
WHAT BOOK HAVE YOU ALWAYS BEEN MEANING TO READ BUT STILL HAVEN’T GOTTEN AROUND TO?
Karl Ove Knausgård’s My Struggle (I’ve read Volume One).
WHICH THREE WRITERS WOULD YOU HAVE OVER FOR DINNER?
Elizabeth Smither, Ian Wedde and Martin Edmond – people I know and like, and whose writing I greatly admire.
WHAT WOULD YOU COOK THEM?
HOW ARE YOUR BOOKS SHELVED AND ORGANISED AT HOME?
Fiction alphabetically, the rest more chaotically than I would like.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE LITERARY QUOTE?
‘You must go on. I can’t go on. I’ll go on.’ Samuel Beckett, The Unnameable.