Bill Hammond

Aotearoa New Zealand, b.1947, d.2021

Waiting for Buller. Bar

  • 1993
  • Acrylic on canvas
  • On loan to the Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū
  • 1199 x 800mm
  • L06/2004

This work was displayed with this label to mark the artist's death in 2021:

All of us at Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū were very saddened to hear of the death of Bill Hammond in late January, and our thoughts are with Bill’s family and friends. Bill’s contribution to the art of Aotearoa New Zealand was original and unforgettable, and he occupied a special, beloved place within the arts communities of Ōtautahi Christchurch and Whakaraupō Lyttelton.

Bill was raised in Christchurch and attended the University of Canterbury School of Fine Arts in the late 1960s. In 1989, he joined a number of other New Zealand artists on an expedition to the sub-Antarctic and the Auckland Islands. This trip had a profound effect on the artist; it was from this point that his highly regarded bird paintings emerged in his practice.

Bill’s paintings are favourites for many of our visitors – works they return to over and over again. His wry sense of humour and generosity of spirit (once you got past that famous reserve) will be missed by many here at the Gallery. Recently, we had been working closely with Bill on a new publication focussed on his paintings from the past 15 years, which includes numerous tributes by artists to Bill and his work. Bill had that rare quality in an artist – someone who is highly regarded by his peers, and whose works appeal to people from all walks of life. We were honoured to have the opportunity to work with him this one last time.

Bill will be missed. We mark his passing with the deepest of respect.

Exhibition History

earlier labels about this work
  • Bill Hammond: Playing the Drums 3 August 2019 – 19 January 2020

    These bird people, for whom Bill is so well known, began to appear in his work around 1993 in paintings such as this one. As the title implies, these characters can be seen to represent Aotearoa New Zealand’s indigenous birds waiting for the arrival of nineteenth-century colonial ornithologists (or, as Bill has called them, bird stuffers) like Walter Buller. Buller and his ilk caused New Zealand’s bird numbers to decline dramatically or disappear altogether as they killed and collected as many species as possible for study and taxidermy. It was a lucrative trade. Bill’s bird people in Waiting for Buller. Bar look ready for a fight, however, as they pass the time drinking and shooting pool on a mountainous table in a seedy bar.