Library and Archives
W.A Sutton: A RetrospectiveDownload PDF
Catalogue for the Exhibition W.A. Sutton: A Retrospective held Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū 10 May - 28 September 2003.
W B Armson: a colonial architect rediscovered
Tribal Art of Papua New Guinea
In 1930s New Zealand there was wide discussion about what was unique about the New Zealand situation; what it was that made us different from the rest of the world. Artists and writers began exploring ways to identify our national identity. A number of artists began painting the Canterbury High Country, most famously Rita Angus and her landscape painting of the railway station at Cass. One reviewer in 1936 observed that there was a new quality in the landscapes exhibited in Christchurch that seemed ‘to consist in a removal of the romantic mists which used to obscure mountains and the Canterbury countryside generally. The light now is clear and hard, the colours are in flat planes, and the effect is of seeing the country through a gem-like atmosphere. There is also a new romantic standpoint – an insistence on the isolation and brooding loneliness of the hills.’ It’s a statement that certainly rings true with the Canterbury paintings of Rita Angus, Leo Bensemann, Louise Henderson, Rata Lovell-Smith and Bill Sutton.
Exquisite Treasure Revealed
Canterbury Museum holds two albums compiled by Diamond Harbour artist Margaret Stoddart. The older of the two, containing images featured in this Bulletin, and itself currently exhibited in the Gallery, covers the period 1886–96. The album is handsomely bound in maroon, and stamped M.O.S. in gold. It contains a sort of travelogue by way of black and white photographs set amongst decorative painting, mostly of native flora, with some locality and date information.
The Canterbury landscape as captured by twentieth century painters.
Leo Bensemann was one of the most respected figures in the Christchurch arts scene, and played a pivotal role in influential arts collective The Group. Always something of an odd-man-out, he produced a large body of work across several different disciplines before his death in 1986. In an attempt to get a fuller picture of the man himself, Gallery director Jenny Harper spoke to two artists who knew him well, John Coley and Quentin MacFarlane.
Leo Bensemann: an art venture
Leo Bensemann (1912–1986) was a pivotal figure bridging the worlds of literature and visual arts – a go-between like no other. Peter Simpson is an authority on this distinctive artist.
The viewpoint Esther Hope chose for this work allowed her to show the vast expanse of the Mackenzie Country, which stretches out before the viewer towards the Southern Alps. This region was a favourite subject of Hope’s, one that she returned to throughout her career.
She said that “this land is a part of me … I have never regretted my choice of environment [and] have always felt a strong feeling of primitiveness [here].” Hope’s mature style is seen here, with broad wet washes of colour confidently used.
Hope was born near Geraldine, South Canterbury. She was first introduced to painting through her mother, Emily Studholme, an accomplished amateur artist. She also took lessons from Edwyn Temple and Margaret Stoddart. In 1912 Hope left New Zealand for England where she enrolled at the Slade School of Art, London. In 1919 she returned to New Zealand, married Henry Norman Hope and settled at the Grampians Station in the Mackenzie Country.
For Austen Deans, painting was an expression of his love of the outdoors and, in particular, the Canterbury high country. Born at Riccarton House, Christchurch in 1915, he grew up on the family farm near Sheffield in North Canterbury (and near Kowai, the subject of this 1952 painting). He trained at the Canterbury College School of Art between 1934 and 1938, where he continued his interest in the outdoors through membership of the College tramping club. He once said that he had 'rather wished to be a mountain guide', but his mother dissuaded him from that early ambition. Though he loved sculpture, he specialised in painting because it allowed him to work outdoors rather than being tied to a city studio. Deans was the last of a generation of painters, which also included Doris Lusk and Bill Sutton, whose work was strongly focused on the Canterbury landscape. He is most well-known for his paintings of Mt Peel and the surrounding area, where he lived and worked for over 60 years. 'It was really my attraction to the mountains that started me painting' he said, 'and it's never left me'.
(Turn, Turn, Turn: A Year in Art, 27 July 2019 – 8 March 2020)
'Tu-Te-Raki-Whanoa, the son of Aoraki, is the atua [demi-god] who shapes the wrecked waka to ready it for people. His first great task is to defeat the south-easterly winds roaring along the side of the wreck. He invents peninsulas. He rakes all the rubbish of the wreckage and piles it up like a gigantic break water. Thus you have the Canterbury Plains and a sheltered place for his next invention, Whakaraupō [Lyttelton Harbour] and Akaroa Harbour. He then depresses his heel and creates Waihora [Lake Ellesmere], later claimed by the exploring ancestor, Rākaihautū, as Te Kete ika o Te Rākaihautū [the fish basket of Rākaihautū].' —Sir Tipene O’Regan
(He Rau Maharataka Whenua: A Memory of Land, 17 September 2016 – 18 February 2017)