Shifting Lines

 Andrew Beck Unison (11.45am, 5 November) 2013. Oil paint, sunlight. Courtesy of the artist and Hamish McKay Gallery

 Andrew Beck Unison (11.45am, 5 November) 2013. Oil paint, sunlight. Courtesy of the artist and Hamish McKay Gallery

It's where we live: the encrusted surface of a molten planet, rotating on its own axis, circling round the star that gives our daylight. Geographically, it's a mapped-out city at the edge of a plain, bordered by sea and rising, broken geological features. Zooming in further, it's a neighbourhood, a street, a shelter – all things existing at first as outlines, drawings, plans. And it's a body: portable abode of mind, spirit, psyche (however we choose to view these things); the breathing physical location of unique identity and passage.

This show is about drawing, as an idea and as a means of connecting us to different kinds of places. In doing so, it brings together the work of six artists – Andrew Beck, Peter Trevelyan, Katie Thomas, Pip Culbert, Gabriella Mangano and Silvana Mangano – all of whom use line to investigate space and structure in unexpected ways. The claim that their work might help redefine how we view drawing here seems reasonable. From tracing and rubbing, cutting and subtracting, measuring and ruling; to video performance and construction with delicate pencil leads, drawing as an idea is allowed to take very different forms.

The grouping conveys a sense of spacious minimalism; for some, perhaps, the thought that there's not much in it. A slowed down reading, however, allows each work to be recognised as a distinctive balancing act of simplicity and contemplative complexity. Each disrupts physical space with line, and deftly deals with imagined or symbolic space. Visual connections and metaphorical associations unfold into broader ideas, ranging from the planetary, geological or geographical to the personal, bodily or psychological. The artists' varied tactics show them to be engaged, agile and skilfully adept.

In Planetary Space

Auckland-based Andrew Beck is a 2010 MFA graduate from Massey University School of Fine Arts, Wellington who is already building an impressive local and international exhibiting record. In his investigations into the nature of matter and light, he acknowledges the influence of artists such as Nancy Holt, Robert Smithson, Richard Serra, Robert Irwin, James Turrell and Lee Ufan. His theoretical underpinnings range from classical philosophy (he cites, for example, Parmenides' theories and understanding of change) to Isaac Newton's understanding of inertia, and 'the Māori proposition of Te Korekore', an esoteric realm of potential being.1

From this framework, Beck has created for this show a striking, rigorously minimal work. At the time noted in the title, Unison (11.45am, 5 November) existed as an angular, hard-edged shape marked out in black oil paint in a window corner, falling at an angle from the place it began, an architectural segment of sunlight. Continuing in a band around a projecting column, it angled down again on a different plane, ending at the shadow's edge, neatly joining two portions of light. With each global rotation and within a few days, the alignment became increasingly inaccurate – if given one year's wall space, it would briefly realign. Located somewhere between drawing, painting and installation, this temporary intervention existed most plainly within a recurring moment of passing light. In pinpointing a moment and location in the universe – and in matching our preference for bringing the unfathomable to a scale we can deal with – it also proves the artist's position that time and space are materials to work with.

Peter Trevelyan survey #4 2013. 0.5mm mechanical pencil leads. Courtesy of the artist

Peter Trevelyan survey #4 2013. 0.5mm mechanical pencil leads. Courtesy of the artist

Mapping Out

Wellington-based Peter Trevelyan's survey #4 (2013) is a quietly mind-boggling three-dimensional drawing that more obviously claims the territory of sculpture. At around four metres long, an elongated, wall-based structure constructed of 0.5mm mechanical pencil leads, it is a feat of originality and exquisite engineering precision. While the whole construction retains the detailed sharpness of its chosen medium – and much of its fragility – the interconnecting trigonometric systems that form its internal workings make it relatively robust. The work is airy and light, but within its interlocking geometry, fine darker points are formed in concentration where multiple lines converge.

Viewed from a distance, its spread out form suggests topography, hills outlined from far away, as seen from shipboard by late-eighteenth or early-nineteenth-century European explorers. While alluding to mapping or surveying for future reference, Trevelyan's investigation is also evidently about testing and proving provisional structures, an aspect aligning it to drawing's traditionally understood role. Part of a growing body of work, survey #4 displays Trevelyan's pleasure in seeing drawing being made to exist in a literal, three-dimensional sense, and his interest in setting up layered propositions. Whether tiny or vast, his spatial drawings can seem impossibilities, and in existing at all neatly knock the stuffing out of complacency or boredom.

Katie Thomas Westenra Terrace 2011. Graphite rubbing on paper. Courtesy of the artist

Katie Thomas Westenra Terrace 2011. Graphite rubbing on paper. Courtesy of the artist

Zooming In

Graphite, topography and a sense of risk come together in different ways in Katie Thomas's 4.25 metre drawing Westenra Terrace (2011), a frottage rubbing from the surface of a road on the Cashmere hills. Thomas was at the Christchurch Arts Centre on 22 February 2011, hanging a solo exhibition just as everything shook, meaning that her MFA Painting (School of Fine Arts, University of Canterbury) show was a bit delayed. In the time that followed, her attention was drawn to the clusters and patterns of lines starting to appear on city roads: temporary repairs to cracks, intended to keep out water and to prevent further damage. Thomas's interest in the amorphous 'found drawings' resulted in several large-scale rubbings (with assistance during the process from thoughtful locals sailing in with protective orange cones).

These are less about a historical moment or posterity, however, than they are aligned to the surrealist impulse of collecting imagery connected to an evolving and established painting practise. As Max Ernst used the frottage technique from 1925 as a starting point for more elaborate painted or collaged compositions, Thomas has viewed the large drawings as reference material; plus-sized notebook diagrams connecting to and feeding into her painting. With its smudged hand-marks, fine road texture and abraded directional lines, this drawing holds completion as an entity, and with its organic, macro/micro structure links strongly to her recent canvases. Despite being unorthodox, even extreme, it may in this sense be the most traditional type of drawing in this show.

Pip Culbert Pup Tent 1999. Canvas, metal, rope. Courtesy of the artist

Pip Culbert Pup Tent 1999. Canvas, metal, rope. Courtesy of the artist

Finding Shelter

Drawing is further redefined by Pip Culbert, a British artist based in France with whom (I hope it's alright to say) we feel something of a family connection.2 Culbert graduated from the Royal College of Art in London in the early 1960s, her specialities then being industrial design and engineering. She began exhibiting her fabric-based works in 1985 and first showed in New Zealand in 1993.3 Pup Tent (1999) belongs to a significant body of work that began in found objects constructed in cloth (her inventory also includes shirts, tarpaulins, flags, pockets, surf sails, trousers, quilts, ties, bags, ironing boards, upholstery, parachutes, aprons and handkerchiefs). Culbert's technique involves cutting away to remove everything but the bones – the essential, strengthened lines of stitching. Drawing in effect by subtraction, this is also drawing in the sense that it renders three-dimensional objects two-dimensional. Pinned to the wall, her diagrammatic tent projects like an isometric plan, denied perspective but retaining a spatial sense.

As with all of her reductive cutaways, Pup Tent holds divergent metaphors; the tent in its temporality is a very old metaphor for the body. Like one of Plato's ideal forms, it also speaks here of structure, shelter and support. In a city that has been shaken back to its pioneering roots, awaiting new structures again on almost every street, for me its A-frame form recalls the well-known 1864 photograph by early Canterbury Association settler A.C. Barker, as well as paintings in the Gallery and Canterbury Museum collections featuring tents by artists including William Holman Hunt, William Fox, James Edward Fitzgerald and Austen Deans. (That I mention these is possibly due to an odd fact: with the city's public art collection presently safely locked away, Culbert's 1999 work might now be one of the most historical works of art currently on public display.)

Gabriella Mangano and Silvana Mangano Rewind 2012. Single channel high definition digital video 16:9, black and white, 4 minutes. Courtesy of the artists and Anna Schwartz Gallery

Gabriella Mangano and Silvana Mangano Rewind 2012. Single channel high definition digital video 16:9, black and white, 4 minutes. Courtesy of the artists and Anna Schwartz Gallery

Body Work

Through performance, video and sound, Melbourne-based Gabriella Mangano and Silvana Mangano bring a particular kind of symbiotic relationship and understanding to their art, having worked collaboratively since 2001 (they completed BFAs in drawing at the Victorian College of the Arts, University of Melbourne in 2001 and 2003 respectively). They have featured regularly in their videos – sometimes drawing, choreographically and simultaneously – and maintain strong links in their work to ideas around drawing.

The digital video Rewind (2012) feature shows a solo performer and her shadow, and is structured around the body's movement, rhythm (including through a quietly pulsing soundtrack) and changing compositional balance. With balletic poise, she manoeuvres a rectangular black shape, carefully held at each end, which moves and divides the screen, sometimes disappearing out of frame. With face concealed, the performer appears to respond to her shadow as well as her own ghosted image, which is simultaneously screened. The camera zooms slowly in and out; movement changes pace to the changing tempo of a digital heartbeat. The black shape is the dominant form and a kind of riddle: what is this thing that the artist carries and treasures? Is it changing identity and self-definition, a capital 'I'? A stand-in for the other? Or simply a formal graphic device? It is fine to stay guessing. As with each of the artists' works shown here together, it will nonetheless have me trying to figure it all out.

Ken Hall
Curator

Shifting Lines is on display at 209 Tuam Street until 19 January 2014.

NOTES
-------
1. Te Korekore was defined as 'the realm between non-being and being: that is the realm of potential being' by Māori Marsden, quoted in Te Ara http://www.teara.govt.nz/en/te-ao-marama-the-natural-world/page-3
2. Pip Culbert is married to Bill Culbert, who recently represented New Zealand at the Venice Biennale, in Front Door Out Back, curated by Justin Paton.
3. She has also shown her unique brand of minimalism in solo and group shows in UK, France, Australia, Japan, Germany and the US.

Appeared in
B.174
B.174

4 December 2013

Ken Hall

Curator

Ken works as a curator with both historical and contemporary art. His skills include creating exhibitions for younger audiences, with a thematic, cross-disciplinary approach. Current research includes the provenance of historical works, including early British and colonial era portraits, in order to build appreciation of their globally linked storylines. His interest in architectural heritage, post-earthquakes, resulted in Reconstruction: conversations on a city, an award-winning outdoors exhibition and accompanying publication.


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Exhibition
André Hemer: <del>CASS</del>

André Hemer: <del>CASS</del>

André Hemer's many-dimensioned installation for the Rolling Maul series combines painting with a range of secondary outputs to play with ideas of distance and deletion – with particular reference to a well known work from the Gallery's collection.

Exhibition
Helen Calder: Orange Up

Helen Calder: Orange Up

Helen Calder's new work, Orange Up, provides a refreshingly bold statement on the Gallery bunker using one of the powerhouses in the range of colours: orange.

Exhibition
Justene Williams: She Came Over Singing Like a Drainpipe Shaking Spoon Infused Mixers

Justene Williams: She Came Over Singing Like a Drainpipe Shaking Spoon Infused Mixers

Australian artist Justene Williams uses performance and ephemeral materials to produce a sensory overload of shapes, patterns and colours in the vibrantly theatrical video work.

Exhibition
Ruth Watson: from white darkness

Ruth Watson: from white darkness

Offering a poetic commentary on the intriguing resemblances between art and science, Ruth Watson's container-based video installation combines historical footage, text and her own Antarctic imagery.

Exhibition
Tjalling is Innocent

Tjalling is Innocent

An ambitious paste-up work by local artist Tjalling de Vries on CoCa's back wall (viewable from Worcester Boulevard), Tjalling is Innocent is an Outer Spaces project presented in association with CoCA.

Exhibition
Tony de Lautour: Unreal Estate

Tony de Lautour: Unreal Estate

Painted on found pages from real estate publications, Unreal Estate, is an artist's book published by local artist Tony de Lautour and Christchurch Art Gallery.

Exhibition
Out of Place

Out of Place

Katharina Jaeger, Chris Pole, Tim J. Veling and Charlotte Watson start with structure and consider what is possible when the normal rules no longer apply.

Notes
The inner binding now on display at the library

The inner binding now on display at the library

If you've not been down to the Central Library Peterborough yet now's a good time to do it.

Notes
(Way Out)er Spaces

(Way Out)er Spaces

We're pretty pleased with what we're achieving with our Outer Spaces programme, but it's always good to see what else is out there. And I do mean 'out there'...

Article
Laying out Foundations

Laying out Foundations

Looking broadly at the topic of local architectural heritage, Reconstruction: conversations on a city had been scheduled to open at the Gallery but will now instead show on outdoor exhibition panels along Worcester Boulevard from 23 June. Supplementing works from the collection with digital images from other collections, curator Ken Hall brings together an arresting art historical tour of the city and its environs.

Exhibition
Phantom City: Doc Ross’s Christchurch 1998–2011

Phantom City: Doc Ross’s Christchurch 1998–2011

Back projected large onto a shop window in Colombo Street, Sydenham, Doc Ross's photographs create a haunting record of this city before its dramatic seismic demise.

Exhibition
Stereoscope #1: Robert Hood

Stereoscope #1: Robert Hood

Two Year of the Cyclops works by Christchurch artist Rob Hood kick off Stereoscope, a new Outer Spaces series housed within two black frames positioned on the street-side of the Gallery's Montreal Street bunker.

Exhibition
Here are the people and there is the steeple

Here are the people and there is the steeple

A big bright mural inspired by the challenges of rebuilding a city. Kay Rosen turns the word 'people' into the foundation for an unexpected 'steeple'.

Exhibition
Michael Parekowhai: On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer

Michael Parekowhai: On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer

Michael Parekowhai's spectacular Venice Biennale installation returns home for its first post-Biennale showing in New Zealand.

Exhibition
Hannah and Aaron Beehre: Waters Above Waters Below

Hannah and Aaron Beehre: Waters Above Waters Below

Hannah and Aaron Beehre's immersive new installation connects us with the transformative moments beneath the surface of the everyday.

Exhibition
Georgie Hill and Zina Swanson: Breathing space

Georgie Hill and Zina Swanson: Breathing space

Strength, fragility and connection are at the heart of the second Rolling Maul exhibition, which features works by Georgie Hill and Zina Swanson.

Exhibition
Sam Harrison: Render

Sam Harrison: Render

Presenting new art from Christchurch, our Rolling Maul project series begins with a remarkable exhibition of sculptures by Sam Harrison.

Artist interview
Rolling Maul

Rolling Maul

A lot of water, and Lord only knows what else, has flowed under the bridge since Justin Paton and I first hatched our plans for a fast-paced, post-quake showing of new work by local artists. Rolling Maul, so far, has been quite the antithesis of 'fast-paced', and despite our best efforts, it is yet to roll anywhere – rather it has been beset by the same delays, cancellations and frustrations as all of the Gallery's other in-house plans.

Our original concept, as outlined in B.165, was based around the use of one of Christchurch Art Gallery's ground-floor exhibition spaces, which we hoped to reoccupy as soon as they were no longer required as part of the City Council/CERA earthquake response. But as we are now only too aware, we won't be showing anything there any time soon.

 

Collection
Reflection
William Dunning Reflection

Capturing a time and place that remains familiar for many, William Dunning’s photorealistic painting of Christchurch’s Cathedral Square pictures the window-reflected Regent Theatre and southeast corner of the 1960s modernist Government Life Building. Both were demolished after the 2010–11 earthquakes, as was the building in which they were mirrored.

Dunning is a Christchurch artist for whom local history is an ongoing concern. Reflection is a significant early work, and was presented by the artist in 2011. (Above ground, 2015)

Exhibition
Elliot Collins: For those who stay behind

Elliot Collins: For those who stay behind

Keep an eye out for the Gallery's latest Outer Spaces project around town over the next couple of weeks as poster reproductions of three paintings by Auckland artist Elliot Collins appear pasted to bollards and walls throughout the city.

Collection
Some thing, for example
Julia Morison Some thing, for example

Julia Morison’s 'Some thing, for example' is like a broken life-support system for the waiting, blob-like entity which, although securely caged, seems more traumatised than dangerous, and without anybody to administer aid.

Like all who experienced the 2010–11 earthquakes in Canterbury, Morison, living near the edge of Christchurch’s cordoned ‘red zone’, was delivered a frequent heightened dose of adrenaline. With this, she encountered new aesthetic possibilities in found, discarded objects; sculptural media of a kind that the physical environment had never previously supplied. From a situation of dislocation and abandonment, she has created work of an unexpected material and formal beauty. (Above ground, 2015)

Exhibition
Ronnie van Hout: The creation of the world

Ronnie van Hout: The creation of the world

A haunting video projection by Ronnie van Hout in the window of the old house opposite the Gallery on Worcester Boulevard.

Exhibition
Julia Morison: Meet me on the other side

Julia Morison: Meet me on the other side

Julia Morison's evocative post-quake sculptures and 'liqueurfaction' paintings return to Christchurch for a special showing in a gallery space overlooking the inner-city 'red zone'.

Exhibition
I seem to have temporarily misplaced my sense of humour

I seem to have temporarily misplaced my sense of humour

Stretching across a vast wall at the gateway to Sydenham, Wayne Youle's new public artwork is a shadowboard, where tools for rebuilding hang alongside many familiar but precious objects.

Exhibition
Sara Hughes: United We Fall

Sara Hughes: United We Fall

A procession of politically charged colours

Collection
Yertle
Glen Hayward Yertle

Glen Hayward’s towering Yertle had its origins in a collection of twenty-eight abandoned paint tins he spied in a back-of-house Christchurch Art Gallery storeroom, containing the residue of wall colours from past exhibitions. Meticulously recreating these tins out of wood, Hayward then painted his carved replicas, faithfully reproducing every smear and drip of forgotten paint.

Stacked up like its namesake, Dr Seuss’s vainglorious turtle king, Hayward's Yertle is a feat of painstaking fearlessness. (Above ground, 2015)

Exhibition
Matt Akehurst: You Are Here

Matt Akehurst: You Are Here

Pablo Picasso, Marcel Duchamp, Damien Hirst, Robert Smithson, Michelangelo... Yes, all the big names have just arrived on the Christchurch Art Gallery forecourt.

Collection
Christchurch NZ 1923. No.1 (View of Christchurch City from the Cathedral Tower)
Robert Percy Moore Christchurch NZ 1923. No.1 (View of Christchurch City from the Cathedral Tower)

R. P. Moore ascends the cathedral’s spire to put his swivelling Cirkut camera to its familiar task. Up the narrow spiral stone staircase, a breezy ladder, past the bells, he reaches the balcony with its clear view facing west. A heavy morning frost means it is cold; the coal smoke of home and office fires lend partial soft-focus to the view.

The Square below has a single horse carriage and thirteen motorcars neatly parked. A tram beside the Clarendon Hotel curves right towards the Square. Tram tracks cut sweeping lines in the frost. None below have noticed the elevated cameraman, who turns the switch. it's five past nine as the camera begins its mechanical roll.

(Above ground, 2015)

Exhibition
Julia Morison: Aibohphobia

Julia Morison: Aibohphobia

Julia Morison has turned the Gallery's squat grey bunker into a dizzying vision in dayglo green.

Exhibition
André Hemer: Things to do with paint that won't dry

André Hemer: Things to do with paint that won't dry

New Zealand artist André Hemer's colourful Worcester Boulevard intervention Things to do with paint that won't dry, appears to flow and spill down the side of the building.

Exhibition
Jae Hoon Lee: Annapurna

Jae Hoon Lee: Annapurna

An immense and oddly surreal landscape glowing out from the Springboard over Worcester Boulevard is the latest addition to the Outer Spaces programme.

Exhibition
Scott Flanagan: Do You Remember Me Like I Do?

Scott Flanagan: Do You Remember Me Like I Do?

Including a wishing well and mirror painstakingly woven from reflective black VHS tape, Scott Flanagan's latest installation considers the surprisingly elusive nature of civic memory.

Notes
The ghost of studios past

The ghost of studios past

In preparation for the next issue of Bulletin, Gallery photographer John and I have been out photographing some of the local artists who will be taking part in Rolling Maul when we reopen.

Collection
What you bring with you to work
Fiona Connor What you bring with you to work

In 2010, the ex-Auckland, Los Angeles-based Fiona Connor produced nine precise replicas of the bedroom windows of a group of art gallery attendants. Connor’s flexible installation plan sees these replica windows fitted into cavities in a building’s walls, allowing views into the fabric of its hidden structure.

'What you bring with you to work' tests out various ideas, implicit in its title, including the imprint of a person's home environment, and the meeting of private and public space. In a local, post-earthquake context, Connor's window structures may gather a different set of associations. (Above ground, 2015)

Article
De-Building

De-Building

For many passers-by, Christchurch art Gallery is identified by its dramatic glass façade—the public face it presents to the world. but De-Building is an exhibition that offers a very different view. bringing together the work of fourteen artists from new Zealand and farther afield, this group exhibition draws inspiration from the working spaces gallery-goers seldom see: the workshops, loading bays and back corridors; the scruffy, half-defined zones.

Collection
House and School
Ronnie van Hout House and School

Ronnie van Hout’s installation recreates his childhood home in Aranui, a suburb of eastern Christchurch, and his primary school in nearby Wainoni. A looped video replays his daily bike ride between the two locations. Together, these elements present the story of van Hout’s beginnings.

Familiar architectural structures, however, are taken beyond the ordinary by the presence of a hovering, makeshift UFO, whose surveillance results appear on a nearby monitor. Can we read this as a picture of suburban childhood experience as an alien might see it, or as the artist’s memorial to the need for imaginative survival and escape? (Above ground, 2015)

Collection
Private Lodgings
William Sutton Private Lodgings

Prominent Christchurch painter Bill Sutton was an influential teacher from 1949 to 1979 at the University of Canterbury School of Fine Arts. Sutton has chosen here a restricted palette – ochre, brown and black – to portray this aged wooden façade under streetlight glare, with a reflected neon glow of red.

The Manchester Private Hotel, already rundown when Sutton painted it in 1954, was a somewhat disreputable boarding house on the corner of Manchester and Southwark Streets on the outskirts of central Christchurch. Belonging to a series of paintings that Sutton made depicting old, inner city buildings, it conveys the imprint of memory and the local past.

(Above ground, 2015)

Collection
Manchester Street, Christchurch
Louise Henderson Manchester Street, Christchurch

The Paris-born Louise Henderson (née Sauze) arrived in Christchurch in 1925 after marrying a New Zealander, and began her career here teaching design and embroidery at the Canterbury College School of Art. Henderson’s highly skilful, elevated view of Manchester Street, east of Cathedral Square, shows a streetscape that until the 2010–11 Canterbury earthquakes had remained largely intact.

(Above ground, 2015)

Collection
The Drawbridge, Plate VII (second state) from the series Invenzioni Capric di Carceri
Giovanni Battista Piranesi The Drawbridge, Plate VII (second state) from the series Invenzioni Capric di Carceri

Giovanni Battista Piranesi’s The Drawbridge is one of sixteen plates from a folio of prints depicting imaginary prisons that has repeatedly haunted and inspired writers, artists and architects for over two and a half centuries. Three of Piranesi’s Carceri engravings, for example, were included in Alfred H. Barr’s exhibition Fantastic Art, Dada, Surrealism at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1936.

First issued in 1749–50, but attracting little attention to begin with, the series was republished with heavily reworked plates in 1761, yielding darker, more detailed and more resolved prints that brought an attendant increase to their public reception and acclaim. (Above ground, 2015)

Collection
The Lighted Pillar
James Fitzgerald The Lighted Pillar

Christ Church Cathedral, a defining symbol of this city since its consecration in 1881, was designed by the English architect George Gilbert Scott, with input from the local supervising architect Benjamin Mountfort. In its present earthquake-damaged state it represents a significant challenge for this city’s church, civic and cultural leaders.

James Fitzgerald and the younger John Mills Thomasson were both British-born commercial artists who settled in Christchurch: Fitzgerald in 1923, after twenty years in Auckland, and Thomasson after serving in Mesopotamia (Iraq) during World War I. Both produced etchings of local Christchurch views and exhibited with the Canterbury Society of Arts.

(Above ground, 2015)

Collection
Queen’s Visit
Ivy G Fife Queen’s Visit

Many artists have depicted this city’s urban spaces, including Ivy Fife, who studied at the Canterbury College School of Art from 1920 to 1931 and taught there from 1936 until 1959. Fife’s studio apartment was in the nearby St. Elmo Courts, from where the bird’s-eye view was painted.

Fife also captured the clamour of Christchurch’s railway station on Moorhouse Avenue during the new Queen’s royal visit. Opened in 1877, the station had been a handsome structure, but by 1954 its Venetian gothic arches were under lean-to additions and its brick warmth covered in paint. Demolition came five years later; its replacement, a landmark modernist building, was itself demolished after the Christchurch earthquakes.

(Above ground, 2015)

Collection
Industrial Area (Tuam Street, Christchurch)
Archibald Nicoll Industrial Area (Tuam Street, Christchurch)

Based on a view of Tuam Street on the outskirts of central Christchurch, some 500 metres from his studio in Cambridge Terrace, Archibald Nicoll’s Industrial Area was first exhibited in Wellington in 1941. While existing as a record of local urban landscape, it also effectively illustrates a comment made by Nicoll in 1923 that “a man became an artist because he suffered from the incurable complaint of making shapes and recording visual impressions”.

(Above ground, 2015)

Collection
Veduta della Gran Curia Innocenziana
Giovanni Battista Piranesi Veduta della Gran Curia Innocenziana

Giovanni Battista Piranesi, son of a Venetian stone- mason and master builder, trained in architecture and stage design before moving to Rome and training there as an engraver. Producing many picturesque Grand Tour views of Rome, he was hugely influential on the classical revival in European architecture. In Rome in 1755 he befriended the visiting architect Robert Adam, who praised Piranesi in a letter to his brother in London:

'[S]o amazing and ingenious fancies as he has produced in the different plans of the Temples, Baths and Palaces and other buildings I never saw and are the greatest fund for inspiring and instilling invention in any lover of architecture that can be imagined.'

(Above ground, 2015)

Collection
Factory At Widnes
L S Lowry Factory At Widnes

L. S. Lowry’s vision of manufacturing England saw his canvases filled with factories, tenements, steeples and smokestacks, and typically rhythmic, spilling crowds. Factory at Widnes is one of Lowry’s least populated industrial landscapes, and one of his tightest, most minimal constructions; an unexpectedly deserted space within his brimming tribute to the waning industrial north.

Factory at Widnes was seen in London in 1956 by the prominent Christchurch architect and arts supporter Heathcote Helmore, who arranged for it to be shown at the 1957 Canterbury Society of Arts exhibition, from where it was purchased. Lowry was at that time Britain’s most famous living artist. (Above ground, 2015)

Collection
View Of Cathedral Square From Hereford Street
James Fitzgerald View Of Cathedral Square From Hereford Street

James Fitzgerald moved from England to Auckland in 1903, and then twenty years later to Christchurch, where he established his own commercial art studio. His watercolour view captures Christchurch’s Cathedral Square at its most architecturally cohesive and complete. Many will remember the United Service Hotel at left, built in 1884–85, demolished 1990; fewer will recall the neoclassical Bank of New Zealand building at right, designed in 1866, demolished 1963. While it is possible to lament our general cultural attitude to architectural heritage, it is also difficult to imagine anything here, even if it had been protected, as capable of surviving the 2010-11 earthquakes that hit the city.

(Above ground, 2015)

Collection
Addington Workshops
Louise Henderson Addington Workshops

Arriving in Christchurch from Paris in 1925, having recently married a New Zealander, the young Louise Henderson (née Sauze) began teaching embroidery design at the Canterbury College School of Art in the following year. Painting was one way in which she began familiarising herself with a new environment. Befriending local artists, she also began to exhibit her work.

This painting proves Henderson’s innate ability with colour and ongoing interest in structural form. Picturing the vast railway carriage construction workshops in the suburb of Addington in Christchurch, this is one of very few New Zealand modernist paintings dealing with urban industry in this period.

(Above ground, 2015)

Notes

Factory at Widnes by L.S. Lowry

This article first appeared in The Press on 13 October 2004

Laurence Stephen Lowry painted Factory at Widnes in 1956, at which time he was Britain's most famous living painter. Lowry's fame increased in that year as he became the subject of a BBC television documentary, though his work had already been popular in British homes and schools as reproductions since the end of the war. If appreciation for his individualistic painting style was widespread, there was also fascination with L.S. Lowry the artist, who had projected in the press the image of a lonely recluse.