All of us at Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū were very saddened to hear of the death of Bill Hammond over the weekend. Bill’s contribution to the art of Aotearoa New Zealand was original and unforgettable and he occupied a special, beloved place within the arts communities of Christchurch and Lyttelton.
Bill's paintings are favourites for many of our visitors – works they return to over and over again. When the Gallery presented a major survey of his work, Jingle Jangle Morning, in 2007 and a smaller survey, Playing the Drums, in 2019, they were extremely popular with visitors from near and far. Bill’s wry sense of humour and generosity of spirit (once you got past that famous reserve) will be missed by many here at the Gallery. We had been working closely with him on a new publication, focused on his paintings from the past 15 years. It includes numerous tributes by artists to Bill and his painting and will be published in the middle of this year. After reading some early proofs of these texts, the Gallery’s director Blair Jackson commented: “Bill has that rare quality in an artist; he’s someone who is highly regarded by his peers, but whose works appeal to people from all walks of life.”