Russell Clark

Aotearoa New Zealand, b.1905, d.1966

The Island Trader

  • 1929
  • Watercolour
  • Christchurch Art Gallery Foundation Collection, purchased 1996
  • 505 x 600mm
  • L86/81

Russell Clark’s elevated view of a Pacific islands trading vessel berthed at a local port shows the skill with composition and detail that made him such a successful illustrator in his early career. The location of this scene has not yet been identified and may be partly invented. The Island Trader conveys at first the idea of an idyllic oceanic commerce, delivering tropical island produce to these shores. However, New Zealand held both Western Samoa and the Cook Islands under colonial rule at this time, and tensions under that system were rising.

(Te Wheke, 2020)

Exhibition History