Roxburgh Classics

25 Jun - 13 Jul 2002


Roxburgh is the painterly pseudonym of Heather Straka. An assumed name, with some basis in geography and the manufacture of fine things - be they lines of porcelain, books, or paintings even! In her recent exhibition, Straka has drawn upon the history and technical expertise of this aforementioned Roxburgh, and deemed to paint a line of classics - typical of the brand, perhaps even transcending it. The Book of Specimens for example, presents beauty in an evocative grey - at once, both tantalising and mysterious...While The Ladies Handbook is mannered and gendered in characteristic Roxburgh fashion. Its smouldering red is smote with passion - with the high heel of "the lady" underwritten by Auckland Queen, Deez a Star's rather pointed message for Mitchell.

This Star turned up at the opening. Poor Roxburgh. S/he routinely scoped the show, then quite conscientiously took to Defacing Agent, (a magnificent diptych from Roxburgh Contemporary in the front gallery), with her eye-liner. Interestingly, that beautiful minimal surface had already been defaced, tagged by Auckland artist, Enu. Whom it transpires had been commissioned by Roxburgh in Briefing Agent, for a tag of certain size and explosive quality to render the death of the brand, the name Roxburgh dealt a bullet right to the heart. So, Roxburgh is dead! Presented are a last line of classics, and witness to a killing. Authorship is being toyed with. Long live Roxburgh! Though her crackled surfaces, a lure to the dandy, alive to the barbs of Victorian history, and sensitive to the gendered gaze of a whole host of other viewers, may not be repeated for some time.

The interrogation of Roxburgh is continued in a marvellous catalogue essay by Dr Peter Shand, (Elam School of Art, Auckland University), entitled "Crack/Lure", pp 1 - 9, in the publication "Roxburgh Classics - Heather Straka".