Bill Hammond

Aotearoa New Zealand, b.1947

Radio On

  • Presented by the Queen Elizabeth II Arts Council, Wellington, 1990
  • Acrylic on canvas
  • 1935 x 1805mm
  • 90/11
  • 1985

Rock drummers and guitarists, classical musicians, DJs and flamboyant lead singers have made regular appearances in Bill’s work over the years. They are often accompanied by song titles and lyrics – The Tattooed Bride, The Look of Love, Love Will Tear Us Apart, Radio On, All Shook Up, Not Fade Away, Lose This Skin and You Make My Heart Sing. One of Bill’s early exhibitions at the Brooke Gifford Gallery in central Christchurch was titled Lines from Songs, in which he showed paintings that specifically referenced his favourite songs alongside set designs for The South Island (A Rock Opera) in four acts. The title for this painting, Radio On, is a lyric taken from one of the most iconic, upbeat rockin’ anthems of the 1970s by Jonathan Richmond and the Modern Lovers. The chorus, simply “radio on”, is one that all can sing along to – and indeed in the painting the freakish characters doing a duet, with their volcano mouths and noses, are in full voice and raising the roof: And I say roadrunner once / Roadrunner twice / I’m in love with rock & roll and I’ll be out all night … I’m in love with the radio on. Bill Hammond: Playing the Drums (3 August 2019 – 19 January 2020)