- Purchased 2008.
- Kauri, stain, acrylic paint
- 2400 x 2200 x 400mm
Apparently testing the limits of incorrectness, Auckland-based multimedia artist Steve Carr commissioned a skilled woodcarver to realise his highly improbable carved bearskin rug.
Bearskin rugs during the Victorian and Edwardian era craze for taxidermy were almost a standard feature in British country houses, typically in a gentleman’s trophy room or study. They came to symbolise wild nature and distant lands, ultimately tamed. Carr’s project, however, has little to do with tameness, either in conception or in its surprisingly lifelike growling effect
A generous, multimedia selection of animal-themed works, both lively and thoughtful.
Menagerie: Animals from the Gallery's Permanent Collections
Menagerie brings together 17 historical and contemporary paintings, prints, photographs and sculpture from the Gallery's Permanent Collections, all of which feature an animal of some description, from cats, dogs and birds to horses, bulls, fish and even a hippopotamus!
Collie Dog is from a set titled ‘Six Lithographs’, a collaboration between Duncan Grant and Vanessa Bell, with each artist contributing three works. Grant’s three lithographs also included Hawk and The Cat and were produced at Miller’s Press. Grant was an active printmaker throughout most of his career, producing prints alongside his activity as a painter, designer, potter and decorator. He is a major figure in 20th century British art and was a central member of the Bloomsbury Group. He was also closely associated with the Omega Workshops which operated in London between 1913 and 1919.
The armadillo lives in South America. Its name means ‘little armoured one’ in Spanish. Among the twenty different species of this interesting creature, the three-banded armadillo is the only one that can roll itself into a tight ball when it needs to for protection.
The painter Graham Sutherland made this print as part of a ‘Bestiary’ published in 1968, a collection of twenty-six lithographs featuring different animals, each one suggesting a particular human-like quality. Curling tight, this armadillo may be expressing fear.
This cow belongs to an ancient breed of cattle, once common in Belgium and the Netherlands, but now almost extinct. Called the Kempens rund (Campine cattle), it was bred for milk, cheese, butter and beef; its numbers were greatly reduced during World War I when the farming area where they lived became a battlefield.
This painting is probably by the Flemish painter Balthazar Paul Ommeganck. He was one of many admirers of the Dutch seventeenth-century painter Paulus Potter, who had started something new in painting by making farm animals his main subjects, rather than minor, incidental elements.
William Hogarth The Bruiser, C. Churchill (once the Revd), in the Character of a Russian Hercules, Regaling himself after having Kill’d the Monster Caricatura that so Sorely Gall’d his Virtuous friend, the Heaven born Wilkes
Here’s some beastly behaviour: William Hogarth, a famous eighteenth-century British artist, trading insults with two gentlemen whom he had greatly upset. Hogarth had published an engraving attacking the journalist Charles Churchill and the politician John Wilkes, and another showing Wilkes being tried in court. Churchill, in return, published a vicious poem about Hogarth. He retaliated by making this print, picturing Churchill as a drunken bear, clutching a beer tankard and a club covered in ‘lyes’. The picture in the lower right-hand corner shows Hogarth whipping Churchill and Wilkes (as a performing bear and monkey) into line. Meanwhile, Hogarth’s pug passes judgement on Churchill’s poem.
Cats were a particularly favourite subject of Eileen Mayo but all animal and botanical subjects were a constant source of inspiration for her. She illustrated several books on nature subjects, including the monumental The Story of Living Things and Their Evolution (1948). A major influence on Mayo was Claude Flight, under whom she studied the linocut technique at the Grosvenor School of Modern Art in 1928. She exhibited regularly with the British Linocut exhibitions held in London between 1929 and 1937. Mayo emigrated to Sydney in 1953 and settled in New Zealand in 1962. She taught at the University of Canterbury School of Fine Art from 1967 to 1972.
There is an information sheet available about this work.
Animal studies were popular in Victorian and Edwardian times and Hill Leopards is typical of their kind. It is unlikely that Arthur Wardle would have ever seen the African leopards in their native habitat. Rather, he observed the animals at the London Zoo and placed them in an imaginary landscape. Wardle was continuing the tradition of earlier English animal painters such as George Stubbs (1724 -1806). Painted with the fine brush treatment of the Academic tradition, the silkiness of the fur, feathery grasses and smooth rock surfaces are all presented very realistically and would have been a quite convincing likeness for the contemporary viewer. Born in London, Wardle received no formal art training but was a popular artist specialising in both domestic and wild animal subjects. Although he was self-taught, he was accepted into traditional art establishments such as the Royal Academy. He was also a member of the Royal Institute of Painters and the Royal British Colonial Society of Artists.
Michel Tuffery, a Wellington-based artist of Samoan and Tahitian Cook Islands descent, has taken cues from pop art in his use of food packaging to create the spectacular Povi Christkeke (which translates from Samoan as Christchurch Bull).
Constructed from recycled corned beef tins, this bull tells us that corned beef has become a staple food throughout the Pacific. Because of this it may be seen as a monster, an introduced beast grown powerful by replacing more environmentally friendly traditions of food production and gathering.