Francis Upritchard’s Eeling in the Ōtākaro at the foundry awaiting casting. Photo: Francis Upritchard

Francis Upritchard’s Eeling in the Ōtākaro at the foundry awaiting casting. Photo: Francis Upritchard

Director's Foreword

It feels a bit strange to be writing the foreword for the autumn edition of Bulletin on one of Ōtautahi Christchurch’s hottest days. However, here I am, welcoming in a new year and enjoying an amazing summer, while signalling a change in seasons and a range of new exhibitions and programmes here at Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū. It has been a fantastic, bustling summer for the Gallery so far, and we have welcomed over 60,000 visitors between 1 December 2023 and 31 January 2024.

There is much to look forward to during the year ahead, including the arrival of a new acquisition—Francis Upritchard’s Eeling in the Ōtākaro. First seen in its original balata rubber state as part of Francis’s 2022 exhibition Paper, Creature, Stone, the final version of this work has recently returned from an Italian foundry where it was cast in bronze. Our thanks to the Christchurch Art Gallery Foundation, who generously supported the exhibition and Francis’s residency at Sutton House, and the estate of Ngarita Johnstone, which supported the acquisition of the work for the collection. I’m hoping that we’ll be in a position to exhibit Eeling in the Ōtākaro later in the year.

In this issue of Bulletin, we hear from Simon Gennard, assistant curator of contemporary art and collections at the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery in New Plymouth. We invited Simon to respond to some of the works in the Spring Time is Heart-break exhibition, and he has selected works by Wendelien Bakker, Madison Kelly (Kāi Tahu, Kāti Māmoe, Pākehā) and Lucy Meyle. These three works all explore relationships—from the agency we might give to non-human forces when we try to control the rain or blame animals for acting as their nature dictates, to the way we might support wild creatures as they fight for survival in a changing world. Isaac Te Awa (Ngāpuhi, Kāi Tahu, Kāti Māmoe, Waitaha) is curator mātauranga Māori at Te Papa Tongarewa Museum of New Zealand and provides an introduction to Encountering Aotearoa by Cora-Allan (Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Tumutumu, Niue—Liku, Alofi), which opens in Ōtautahi later this quarter. The exhibition, which comes to us from the Dunedin Public Art Gallery, is at its heart the story of our relationship to whenua. Cora-Allan explores the ways we encounter place, offering the chance to experience the land through an Indigenous lens.

Homing in on one element of his Out of Time exhibition, which is currently on display on the first floor, Ken Hall looks at a selection of European portraits that can all be traced back to the collecting of former Robert McDougall Art Gallery director Brian Muir in the 1970s. Ken uncovers elements of the stories behind them, asking why a once-treasured portrait of an ancestor might end up seemingly abandoned on the other side of the world.

Our My Favourite comes from librarian and poet Mike Moroney (Taranaki Tūturu, Te Atiawa), who picks a drawing by Toss Woollaston that takes him rudely back to his formative years in the shearing sheds of the Wairarapa. Our first Pagework for the year is provided by Joy Auckram (Ngāti Maniapoto), who reflects on what it is to be takata tiriti in Aotearoa.