Ralph Hotere’s art charted his journeys throughout Aotearoa and the world, reflecting on his experiences, identity and politics. As the first major survey exhibition of Hotere’s artistic career for over twenty years, Ātete celebrates his achievements and brings his vision to a new generation. It’s been a huge project to bring together so we thought it was timely to ask the four curators to tell us a little about their relationship with Hotere – how do they connect as individuals with the artist’s works, and the themes and the locations that they explore?
Peter Vangioni: It’s late June, and you haven’t been outside for 16 weeks? Is that right? How are you and Barbara coping with the shelter in place order and are you able to work under these conditions?
Max Gimblett: Well, I’ve been out to put the garbage out twice a week—I cross the pavement and come back to the door. Some people are out there walking with their masks. Barbara is super cautious, you know because of our age, we can’t even come close to anybody. But we are doing very well in this lockdown, and have no plans to leave the loft.
Every few years, the curatorial team at Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū embarks on a major rehang of the first-floor collection area. It’s no small undertaking finding fresh ways to combine long-held, well-known works and new acquisitions, looking for combinations that will offer compelling viewing, immersive storytelling and intellectual engagement to our wide and evolving visitor base. This time, director Blair Jackson added another dimension to our task, challenging us to reimagine the physical orientation of the spaces to encourage visitors to interact with the architecture in a completely different way.
If you grew up in Christchurch before the city’s gasworks was decommissioned in 1982, you'll almost certainly remember the grimy industrial building that dominated the scene next to the Waltham Street overbridge. It was maybe the most industrialised site in the city, where dirty columns of smoke bellowed out from chimney stacks signalling coal being fired to create gas for residents and businesses. It was a subject that captivated painter Doris Lusk. She had previously painted the Dunedin Gasworks in around 1935, and also turned her hand to painting many other industrialised sites – hydroelectric stations, Christchurch’s Pumphouse, sluice mines at St Bathans, the wharf at Onekaka, and numerous roads and railways slicing their way through the green countryside.
In March 1943 Rita Angus spent several weeks staying at a friend’s family bach in the small settlement of Wainui in Akaroa Harbour, a refuge in the midst of World War II. It was here that she produced some of her most accomplished watercolours, small gems where the landscape is so delicately defined it’s as if she painted them whilst looking through a telescope. There are five known watercolours of Wainui and the surrounding Akaroa Harbour from this period and the Gallery is fortunate to hold four of them.
One thing I’m really looking forward to when life returns to a new sense of normality in a post-Covid19 world is visiting a movie theatre – a treat I’ve taken for granted until a couple of weeks ago. In Theatre Beautiful, Dunedin artist Harry Vye Miller captures the bustling busy interior of Dunedin’s Regent Theatre which opened in the city’s Octagon in 1928. Miller enjoyed this theatre and is known to have attended the opening night. The building thankfully remains fully intact and is one of the gems of Dunedin’s architectural heritage.
Hawaiki is the ancient homeland of Polynesian people who navigated the seas in double-hulled waka from Rarotonga, Tahiti and Ra’iātea to the islands of the Pacific Ocean, including Aotearoa New Zealand.