- Purchased 1981
- Reproduced by permission of the Hotere Foundation Trust
- Acrylic on unstretched canvas
- 1809 x 915mm
In 1962 Ralph Hotere visited his brother’s grave in the Sangro River War Cemetery in Italy. While there, he copied from headstones the ages of the Maori Battalion soldiers who, like his brother Jack, were killed while attempting to cross the Sangro River in late 1943, during World War II. Hotere has formed the numbers into a Greek cross, with a large ‘X’ shape ‘crossing’ out the space beneath them. Together, these images suggest both a private requiem and a public protest at the futility of war.
Across the bottom of the canvas, Hotere has stencilled phrases from an ancient Maori chant that calls for the return of the godwit – a symbol for the spirits of the dead – to familiar shores. The paint runs and falls like rain, blood or tears.
Hotere was born in Taikarawa, Northland, and was widely regarded as one of New Zealand’s greatest artists. He is represented in public and private collections throughout New Zealand. He lived in Port Chalmers, near Dunedin, where he died in 2013.
1969 Comeback Special
A fascinating focus show centred on a decade in which Gallery director, Brian Muir, began to acquire contemporary New Zealand art for the city’s collection.
The Gallery marks the passing of Ralph Hotere with paintings selected from the collection.
Hard to believe two years have already gone by since the passing of Ralph Hotere on 24th February 2013. Unlike many public galleries around the country at the time of his passing Christchurch Art Gallery was frustratingly unable to display any works by Ralph from the collection due to our ongoing closure.
Madras Street is open again! And we're very pleased about that, as the front door to our Outer Spaces gallery upstairs at NG happens to be on the one-way heading north, so it's even easier for you to get there and see Breathing Space.