amongst the stocking fillers

In early December of 2011, Dick Frizzell gave the Hawke’s Bay Museums Trust an early Christmas present of 92 artist proof prints. Classic works like Mickey to Tiki, the Red Haring Series, Give it a Whirl and many more were amongst the stocking fillers.

My project whilst working back at the glorious HBMAG over my Uni Holiday break is to go over each of the 92 prints, get their dimensions, take a photograph, write a brief description, enter all the relevant information into the collection database, then mat them all. I also got a chance to sit in on a curatorial meeting to see how they go about coming up with exhibition ideas, which was, in my head, more complex than I had originally thought. I was then asked to think about how I would go about exhibiting the newly acquired Frizzell prints. A feeling of con-puzzlement (being confused and puzzled at the same time) swept over me upon being asked this and at the realisation of the daunting task ahead.

My work station

Viewing each of the works more than half a dozen times three distinctive themes became apparent to me in the prints we received from Dick; Tiki’s, Charlie (the Four Square guy) and household things like recipes, appliances and food. Annoyingly for myself I couldn’t escape these themes over the Christmas and New Year break.  Firstly, because everywhere I went had something that reminded me of a particular print, especially since the Four Square Man’s image seemed to pop up in the most unlikely of places. And secondly because I kept coming up with little exhibition ideas that started with “if I were to exhibit these in an exhibition… How would I exhibit them? Where would I exhibit them? What ones out of the 92 prints would I exhibit? And why are we exhibiting them/why these particular works are being exhibited?” More questions than answers would usually eventuate from such ideas.  But such ideas can be thought about whilst carrying on with my matting.

Akaroa, 1999, Dick Frizzell, collection of Hawke's Bay Museums Trust / Ruawharo Ta-u-Rangi 2011/42/37

In my opinion the matting part is definitely the fun part. Thinking about it now though, all matting is, is cutting a rectangular shape out of mat board using a set algebraic equation and a mat cutter, pretty much making me a glorified rectangle cutter. I won’t bore you with the details of the equation, but it involves numbers and the horrible idea of using algebra to get the area and placement of the window of mat you need to cut out. After the mat is cut and the work is centred, the next step is to attach the rice paper hinges to the back of the work. Using another set of rice paper hinges I then attached the work to its backing mat which is joined to the window mat creating a folder with a window cut out of it (multiply this process by 92 and that’s a lot of rectangular cut outs). After all that you get a final matted work which, if need be, is ready to go into a frame and into an exhibition.

Making sure it's centred

When I was first told about my project back in November I wasn’t the biggest fan of Dick’s work, but now, through either being surrounded by Frizzellian prints, or the reading up I’ve been doing, I find myself growing fonder of his work. Am I, dare I say it, becoming a fan? I guess only time will tell.

The finished product