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Wazza's Trans-Tasman tales (cont.)

Looking at Coppersmith’s painting, I wondered at her comment that she “wanted to inspire the next generation of young leaders” and why she had chosen such a sombre visage to accompany the awfully angular pose. I looked through an internet image search for Ardern and found very few without her typical toothsome smile or loose hair style that contrast so dramatically with Coppersmith’s stern and severe stare from alongside her matching portrait, which I’ve included along with one of the few unsmiling Ardern images I could find. I’m left at a loss to understand not only how Coppersmith has imagined herself channelling Ardern in this way, but also why? I also wonder about the reference to “after George Lambert”. Lambert was certainly a notable portraitist of women but his technique delivered a much more refined effect than Coppersmith’s shows, especially in his 1927 Archibald prizewinning portrait of Mrs Annie Murdoch that presumably is the ‘after’ Coppersmith has in mind, given the ‘look’ and the ‘colour’ of Lambert’s work. However, others have referenced a “mannered” stylistic trait as common to both artists. Doubtless others still will find ways and means to interrogate and elaborate on the raison d'être of this winning work, I just found the introduction of Ardern to the story a rather convenient narrative accompaniment to an otherwise fairly ordinary painting. I recognise my criticisms are likely provocative, but then maybe that’s a response to the provocation of the painting itself and its commentary, which brings me back to Ardern, herself.

Ardern is also not without commentariat critics in her homeland – even, perhaps more so, among her own gender. Since the advent of electronic print media there has been a decisive shift of the ‘Op-ed’ off its well-marked particular page i.e., opposite the editorial page – NOT as it’s commonly mistaken to be inclusive of e.g., opinion as editorial – and out into the mainstream. Opinion is now definitely to be marked out from editorial, as Emma Alberici knows well. Ardern’s critics – based in NZ’s conservative commentariat – include one Heather du Plessis-Allan, with a piece comparing the NZ PM to Trump via their apparently similar immigration policies – quite where that positions Dutton is anyone’s guess – and another, Deborah Hill-Cohen, who had a go at Ardern’s bloke that presaged a full-on attack on him via social media. The end result being a ‘statement’ from the Commissioner of Police that there had never been, nor was there, any interest or inquiry into said bloke! That worked a treat…NOT. Never mind, the PM enters her ‘confinement’ on June 17th and although her deputy, ‘old warhorse’ and the media’s Bête noire, Winston Peters is deputising, Ardern has made clear she remains in charge, so there. How we all fare remains to be seen.
As for the Yvette/Jacinda-avatar proposing to “…inspire the next generation of young leaders”, perhaps its intent is to portray the dramatic demeanour she will need to confront an imminent genderational shift in socio-political happenstances, which the Ardern/Peters (pre-millenial, feminister/baby boomer, die-hard patriarch) leadership coalition characterises.
At days end, perhaps my own vexations (I really like that word, as did Eric Satie) are merely an inevitable consequence of the complexly rhizomatic meanderings of minds and matter as they traverse a world emerging through evolving understandings of so-called new materialism*...more about such matters another day/month/year/decade/century…

* ‘new materialism' is the most common name given to a series of movements in several fields that criticise anthropocentrism, rethink subjectivity by playing up the role of inhuman forces within the human, emphasize the self-organizing powers of several nonhuman processes, explore dissonant relations between those ...’ <http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0305829813486849?journalCode=mila>

Image of Lambert’s Mrs Annie Murdoch from < https://curiator.com/art/george-washington-thomas-lambert/mrs-annie-murdoch>

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