you’d want to weep, really

A final last minute NZIFF film for me was the heART of the matter.

It’s a film that’s been 25 years in the making and has finally hit the screen. Former National Art Gallery director Luit Bieringa gets to record and pull together stories, videos, audio and still images of Gordon Tovey and his acolytes: Whiting, Webb, Mattchit, Aldridge, Brown and many others.

Tovey was director of art and craft in the Dept. of Education in the late 40s and 50s, under Director General of Education Clarence Beeby.

He believed that children should be encouraged to be creative in order to learn. He also believed that Māori should be encouraged to explore their own heritage (rather than have it stifled under the guise of ‘good’ education).

For those of us born in the 1950s there are images that wrench our hearts: embroidery on sacks, clay pots, lino cut prints, masks, creative movement, stuffed paper fish and painting, painting, painting.

For those of us who attended training college in the 1970s – names that we recall. In particular Elwyn Richardson whose book In the early world inspired me as a teacher.

It’s a beautiful movie. One that inspires and depresses because so much has changed. The current situation seems to be test, test again and then one more.

It is fantastic though, that we have so many great artists who came out of Tovey’s teaching. I just wish the philosophy of education had continued.

(Personal note: friend Meg suggested I go and see a friend of hers when I was having trouble writing an essay for my Diploma in Second Language Teaching. Mr Beeby was very helpful and gracious. :-)).


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