Quiet invasion

Rita Angus Portrait of O'Donnell Moffett 1930s. Oil on board. Private collection, reproduced courtesy of the Rita Angus estate

Rita Angus Portrait of O'Donnell Moffett 1930s. Oil on board. Private collection, reproduced courtesy of the Rita Angus estate

The idea of peppering the vestigial city centre with portraits from the collection became part of the Gallery's tenth birthday POPULATE! programme, intended to remind all of us that the collection is, indeed, still here and in good shape.

The city's art collection has become something increasingly elusive and rare in this last while: a part of our visual culture and heritage that hasn't completely disappeared – this despite the fact that it remains hidden away. Seen against this background, the Faces from the Collection project was to be about rediscovery and surprise. Not a difficult brief perhaps in a city that now holds such a strong sense of entering the unknown. Large, high-quality reproductions of faces and portraits – mostly oil portraits as it happened – were to be strategically placed on empty walls around the city centre in order to reinstate a sense of human presence and to offer connections between the present and past. With invaluable support from Life in Vacant Spaces and Christchurch City Council's Transitional City project, we spied out vacant lots, surviving buildings and newly exposed walls, looking for sites that offered a communicative match. Landowners were traced and contacted, and permissions politely sought. Some seemed to have vaporised – they simply couldn't be found. The project also became slightly competitive, with ideal spaces being eyed up by similarly motivated groups working to activate the central city. And we met the challenge of walls and spaces that we'd been ready to work with vanishing, turned into rubble and carried away. The job became easier once we accepted that not every attempt would work: overall, our strike rate wasn't terrible.

Elizabeth Kelly Margaret c.1936 1936. Oil on canvas. Collection of Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu, purchased 1951

Elizabeth Kelly Margaret c.1936 1936. Oil on canvas. Collection of Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu, purchased 1951

In seeking to reinforce the idea that the paintings are objects and more than purely images, we decided that, where possible, they would be reproduced in their frames, offering a possible trompe l'oeil effect when positioned on a wall. The first of these, in an elaborate gilt frame, was Elizabeth Kelly's oil portrait Margaret (c.1936), applied to a blank wall in Cashel Street's Re:START Mall not far from the Bridge of Remembrance. With her accessorised tent, rucksack and fishing rod, the model was well suited to this moment – a Christchurch woman able to add presentability and assurance to practical survival skills. Kelly had spotted the young Margaret Hatherley working in the art department of Beath's department store, not very far from here. Her likeness has been enjoyed in its new location, not least by the artist's grand-niece, who became inspired to add another portrait to the city's art collection with the gift of a striking plaster bust of Kelly's sister Laura, modelled in the late 1890s when the artist was still at the Canterbury College School of Art. It's a work we'll look forward to unveiling.

Michael Smither Portrait Of My Mother 1972. Oil on board. Collection of Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu, purchased 1981. Reproduced courtesy of M.D. Smither

Michael Smither Portrait Of My Mother 1972. Oil on board. Collection of Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu, purchased 1981. Reproduced courtesy of M.D. Smither

Tony Fomison No! 1971. Oil on canvas. Collection of Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu, purchased 1973. Reproduced with permission

Tony Fomison No! 1971. Oil on canvas. Collection of Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu, purchased 1973. Reproduced with permission

Michael Smither's Portrait of my mother (1972), the helmeted archetype of an earlier generation, offers a surprise encounter on an abandoned pharmacy on the corner of Cashel and Colombo streets. In this site, she appears the well turned-out older customer, denied her pills and lotions and forever awaiting opening time. Not far away, on a wall between High, Tuam and Manchester streets, Tony Fomison's No! (1971) is shouted large. An image originally sourced by the artist from a grainy press cutting, in the midst of this brokenness and carnage it could be open to any kind of interpretation, but seems to belong very neatly to now. A bit further down Manchester Street, Harry Linley Richardson's Cynthia's Birthday (1926–7) sings a sombre tune. The artist's children have never appeared excessively excited, rather stunned into silence, but now their state is closer to psychic shock. The cake has three candles; this work was put in place on 3 September 2013, three years minus one day after the first big shake. It's her party and we'll cry if we want to.

Harry Linley Richardson Cynthia's Birthday 1926–7. Oil on canvas. Collection of Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu, presented by the Canterbury Society of Arts 1932

Harry Linley Richardson Cynthia's Birthday 1926–7. Oil on canvas. Collection of Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu, presented by the Canterbury Society of Arts 1932

Slightly more chipper and with a crisper, more modern edge, Rita Angus's Portrait of O'Donnell Moffett (1930s) presents to us a bright-eyed boy with a great name and a cowlick. He looks at home under the old Peterson's Jewellers' sign in the miraculously intact, recently reopened New Regent Street. George Henry, a Scottish artist, offers an unexpected and lesser-known work, The Black Hat (c.1910), on Cashel Street, east of Manchester. With its sumptuous gold frame, this confident society beauty provides a rare moment of decorative elegance – a mode and standard that no longer exists. For some reason, it's at this point that I start to ache for those quiet gallery spaces with their well-arranged, carefully lit walls.

George Henry The Black Hat c.1910. Oil on canvas. Collection of Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu, presented by the Canterbury Society of Arts 1932

George Henry The Black Hat c.1910. Oil on canvas. Collection of Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu, presented by the Canterbury Society of Arts 1932

It's nearly time to return home, but perhaps not before taking a flutter with William Nicholson's H.M. The Queen (1899). Possibly teetering slightly, she has been more than welcomed to the playing-card walls of Christchurch Casino, planted firmly at the edge of the reviving Victoria Street precinct. Together, the portraits seem to chart the city's recovery progress. Raymond McIntyre's Suzette was reproduced at exactly life size, with her frame, positioned on the Gallery's south east corner on Worcester Boulevard (shown here on the day the 'red zone' officially ended and the army exited stage left out of town). The wall is now hidden behind the white-painted hoardings that surround the Gallery, and that later this year will receive a generous new assortment of faces from the collection. We're claiming the people focus back for this space, and want to clearly stake out that this is where the locus of activity will be.

William Nicholson H.M. The Queen 1899. Lithograph. Collection of Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu, gifted to the Gallery by Gordon H. Brown 2008

William Nicholson H.M. The Queen 1899. Lithograph. Collection of Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu, gifted to the Gallery by Gordon H. Brown 2008

Faces from the Collection was installed as part of the POPULATE! programme throughout the city from 10 May 2013.

Raymond McIntyre Suzette. Oil on panel. Collection of Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu, presented by Mrs M. Good, London 1975. Photo: Neil Semple

Raymond McIntyre Suzette. Oil on panel. Collection of Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu, presented by Mrs M. Good, London 1975. Photo: Neil Semple

Appeared in
B.175
B.175

1 March 2014

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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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'...

Notes
Earthquake generosity

Earthquake generosity

We recently received this generous gift - from one quakeprone country to another

Artist interview
A Dark and Empty Interior

A Dark and Empty Interior

In B.167 senior curator Justin Paton documented his walk around the perimeter of Christchurch's red zone, and we featured the empty Rolleston plinth outside Canterbury Museum at the end of Worcester Boulevard. In this edition, director Jenny Harper interviews English sculptor Antony Gormley, who successfully animated another vacant central-city plinth—the so-called Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square, London. Gormley filled the plinth with 2,400 people, who occupied it for one hour each, night and day, for 100 days. Here, Jenny asks him about his practice, the value of the figurative tradition and whether he has any advice for Christchurch.

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.

Article
Cities of Remembrance

Cities of Remembrance

Nothing was more fascinating than ruins to me when I was growing up in one of the newest parts of the New World—new, anyway, to extensive buildings and their various forms of lingering collapse and remnant. The native people of California had mostly built ephemeral structures that were readily and regularly replaced and left few traces. Anything old, anything that promised to reach into the past, was magical for me; ruins doubly so for the usual aura of romance and loss that, like death, is most alluring to the young who have not seen much of it yet.

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.

Notes
New Gallery programmes consider a city in transition

New Gallery programmes consider a city in transition

The possibilities for a city in transition will be considered in Re:actions for the city – a new series of public events that we are launching.

 

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.

 

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.

Notes
The Boulevard of Broken Art

The Boulevard of Broken Art

Well before the earthquakes, Christchurch had a reputation as a tough town for public art. The city's public spaces are haunted by the ghosts of several major sculptures that never made it to completion. And several local sculptors still carry some psychological scar tissue from their forays into the public realm.

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.

Article
Here and Gone

Here and Gone

In the last issue of Bulletin, senior curator Justin Paton wrote about the way the Christchurch earthquakes 'gazumped' the exhibitions on display at the Gallery – overshadowing them and shifting their meanings. In this issue, with the Gallery still closed to the public, he considers the place of art in the wider post-quake city – and discovers a monument in an unlikely place.

Exhibition
Sara Hughes: United We Fall

Sara Hughes: United We Fall

A procession of politically charged colours

Notes
Doc Ross: photographing the red zone

Doc Ross: photographing the red zone

Sydenham-based photographer Doc Ross and his camera have been investigating the Christchurch urban environment for the past 14 years.

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.

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.

Exhibition
Reconstruction: Conversations on a City

Reconstruction: Conversations on a City

In acknowledging architectural heritage loss in this city's present and past, this visually rich outdoor exhibition unfolds the ways in which dreams and values have been given form in our built environment.

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.

Exhibition
De-Building

De-Building

Sculptural surprises and architectural double-takes by renowned contemporary artists. De-Building is inspired by a moment usually hidden from viewers – when an exhibition ends and the 'de-build' begins. View it online