Lachlan Taylor has been appointed as ArtNow’s new Essays editor. Taking over from Tendai John Mutambu, who launched the new platform and saw it through its first six months, Lachlan is excited to be offered the opportunity and intends to bring his experience and skill set to bear on shaping the next raft of essays that will be published on the site.
In taking up the editorship Lachlan acknowledges the landscape for writing in Aotearoa New Zealand has changed since the platform’s inception in February 2021. At that point there was a dearth of opportunities, with the collapse of print media in the wake of the pandemic.
But now, as local publishing has bounced back, bringing new opportunities for arts writers, his plan is to complement what is on offer by commissioning texts that “directly address the health, politics and future of our sector through the essay form”, by offering a supportive framework for nurturing new writers, and by tapping into the “world of brilliant writing and thinking in Aotearoa” both within and beyond the arts community.
Lachlan has offered the following position statement to the organisations which fund the Essays Project
ArtNow Essays has published nine pieces since launching in March this year. As a collection, they have already moved in interesting ways and to unexpected places. Most have begun as direct responses to exhibitions or artists, but almost all have moved with their subjects into ground where good writing asks good questions—of being and belonging, sovereignty and representation, memory and understanding.
Of course, this isn’t an accident. Under Tendai Mutambu’s editorship, the platform has sought to elevate writing that goes beyond the simple explanation of the press release or the reactive opinion of the review. I’m exceptionally privileged to take up the work Tendai has put in to building and growing this platform, and to take it into a new phase.
The arts writing landscape has changed considerably since ArtNow Essays was conceived. A number of platforms have been established that devote regular space to arts coverage in Aotearoa. I don’t believe this fundamentally affects the kaupapa of ArtNow Essays, which remains to be a space for high-quality, independent arts writing in this country. But I think it helps to define our aspirations for the platform and the niche ArtNow Essays holds for the community. As commissioning editor, my aspirations for the platform can be split into two broad camps:
Great writing requires great writers. In the arts in Aotearoa, there is still so much more we can do to foster and support emerging writers. This platform can be a part of that process by bringing writers through a rigorous process with exacting standards. And by meeting our authors with genuine care—throughout the publishing process and after. I want writing for ArtNow to be the exemplar of what a professional arts writing commission should be like in Aotearoa.
This means multiple things to me. In one sense, it’s expanding our content by being ambitious about what a platform like this can deliver. Alongside the kind of response-based and personal essays that ArtNow has already published, I want to push the scope of our pieces into areas that directly address the health, politics, and future of our sector through the essay form. This also means expanding the kinds of writers we engage and subsequently the kinds of audiences we reach. I want to tap into the world of brilliant writing and thinking in Aotearoa that doesn’t come from directly within the fine arts community. There’s a lot of high calibre writing that goes on in this country, and if we hope to promote the best of its kind with this platform, I think that bringing different kinds of writer into this space is essential. What expansion doesn’t mean, is abandoning the core principles and purposes of this platform: a space for good writing about art, artists, and the sector.
I’m excited about this platform, what it’s already achieved and its potential for the future, and its role in shaping how we think about arts writing and its place in Aotearoa.
Lachlan Taylor is currently completing his MA in Creative Writing at the International Institute of Modern Letters at Te Herenga Waka Victoria University of Wellington. This is providing him with new technical and creative tools as a writer to add to the skills he has developed since completing a Masters in Art History also at Victoria University in 2018.
Taylor was the inaugural Adam Art Gallery Intern, working towards an exhibition and publication on the New Zealand works of Christopher Perkins. He went on to take up the Assistant Curator role at Artspace Aotearoa in 2019, and then worked at Michael Lett until returning to Wellington Te Whanganui-a-Tara. His writing has been published in Art + Australia, Art News New Zealand, Art New Zealand and The Pantograph Punch.
ArtNow Essays has been conceived as a platform for good new independent writing on contemporary art. It is supported by ArtNow.NZ, with funding from Creative New Zealand Toi Aotearoa and several public art galleries from across the sector throughout New Zealand.
To read the Essays that have already been published, click HERE