Russell Clark

Aotearoa New Zealand, b.1905, d.1966

The Gathering

  • Purchased, 1957
  • Watercolour
  • 470 x 758mm
  • 69/03
  • 1957

This group of Māori, of the Tuhoe tribe, have gathered for a tangi (funeral). In 1949 Russell Clark first travelled north to the Urewera region looking for material to illustrate the Primary School bulletin. He made many visits to the area in the 1950s, developing a strong empathy with its Tuhoe inhabitants. The drawing contains individual portraits, yet this is also a portrait of a people who are moving as a single entity, with their shared collective ancestry and experience. Clark was born in Christchurch and studied at Canterbury College School of Art. In 1929 he moved to Dunedin, working as a commercial artist for publishers John McIndoe. Clark moved to Wellington in 1938 and continued to work as a commercial artist but also began to exhibit at the New Zealand Academy of Fine Arts. In 1939 he began illustrating for the New Zealand Listener, which he continued to do until 1962. After his war service, Clark returned to Christchurch and a position as lecturer at Canterbury College School of Art.

earlier labels about this work
  • During the 1940s Russell Clark made many sketches of Maori. At first the Maori figures were incidental, in paintings of old colonial houses, but slowly the figures emerged to become the most dominant subject.

    In 1949 he travelled north to the Urewera country to gather material from which to make illustrations for the Primary School bulletin. This was to be the first of many such visits. Over the next few years he returned from his experiences among the Tuhoe tribe with studies from which emerged many drawings, paintings, and watercolours.

    In 1957 Russell Clark once again revisited the Urewera region, and started a new series of Maori subjects concerned with life on the Marae. The Gathering is one such work from this series in which the Tuhoe people are gathered for a tangi.

    (Label date unknown)


The Watercolour Collection

The Watercolour Collection

The Gallery's Watercolour Collection had modest beginnings, but over the past 70 years it has grown steadily by gift and purchase and, of all the Collections, still maintains a largely traditional emphasis. When the Gallery opened in June 1932, just 28 of the 128 paintings on display were watercolours and, of these, 11 were by British artists and 17 by New Zealanders. Among the mostly nineteenth century British watercolours were those by Helen Allingham, Edgar Bundy, Matthew Hale, Laura Knight, William Lee Hankey and Ernest Waterlow. In contrast, the New Zealand watercolours were by mostly contemporary or early twentieth century artists and included works by James Cook, Olivia Spencer Bower, Margaret Stoddart, Maude Sherwood, Eleanor Hughes and Alfred Walsh. The foundation Watercolour Collection included two paintings of larger than usual dimensions. William Lee Hankey's We've been in the Meadows all day (1184 x 878mm) and Charles N. Worsley's Mount Sefton (996 x 1105mm) are still greater in scale than any other work in the Watercolour Collection.