In the context of the Gallery’s recent acquisition of Colin McCahon’s Canterbury Plains (1951), leading McCahon scholar Dr Peter Simpson will discuss McCahon’s evolving response to the Canterbury landscape between 1948 and 1952, drawing on fresh research undertaken for a major book on the artist he is currently writing that will be published by Auckland University Press in 2019, McCahon’s centennial year.
A writer, editor and curator who lives in Auckland, Peter Simpson has curated several McCahon exhibitions and has published extensively on his work in including Answering Hark: McCahon/Caselberg; Painter/Poet (2001), Colin MCachon The Titirangi Years 1953-59 (2007) and a chapter in Bloomsbury South: The Arts in Christchurch 1933-1953 (2016). In 2017 he received the Prime Minister's Award for Literary Achievement in Non-fiction.
From the Sun Deck: McCahon’s Titirangi
Colin McCahon’s shift to Titirangi in 1953 was a watershed moment in the artist’s career, providing the inspiration for him to develop his interest in cubism and abstraction.
Bloomsbury South: The Arts in Christchurch 1933–1953
A selection of ephemera, books, sheet music and art brought together to mark the publication of Bloomsbury South: The Arts in Christchurch 1933-1953 by Peter Simpson.
Colin McCahon: Five Years in Christchurch, 1948–53
Prior to moving to Christchurch in March 1948, Colin McCahon and his family spent a little over a year living in Muritai Street, Tahunanui, on the outskirts of Nelson city. It was his most productive period as a painter to date – a phase dominated by figurative paintings with some landscapes. The products of this prolific period were brought together in his first major one-person show, at Wellington Public Library in February 1948, organised by his Dunedin friend, Ron O’Reilly. An exhibition of forty-two works made between 1939 to 1948, more than half produced in 1947, it consisted of roughly equal numbers of landscapes (including Otago Peninsula and Maitai Valley), biblical paintings (King of the Jews, Crucifixion according to St Mark ), and non-biblical figurative works (A candle in a dark room, The Family). Although it was reviewed favourably in The Listener by J.C. Beaglehole, the subsequent letters column ran hot with controversy, and it brought McCahon to national attention.
Tomorrow, Book, Caxton Press, Landfall
In the decades before and after the Second World War, Christchurch experienced a remarkable artistic efflorescence that encompassed the visual arts, literature, music, theatre and the publishing of books and journals. And the phenomenon was noticed beyond these islands. For instance, in his 1955 autobiography, English publisher and editor of Penguin New Writing and London Magazine, John Lehmann, wrote (with a measure of exaggeration, perhaps) that of all the world’s cities only Christchurch at that time acted ‘as a focus of creative literature of more than local significance’.
Leo Bensemann: an art venture
Leo Bensemann (1912–1986) was a pivotal figure bridging the worlds of literature and visual arts – a go-between like no other. Peter Simpson is an authority on this distinctive artist.
The benediction of Goat Island our Saviour: A long view of our very blessed saviour from a distance (with goats rampant) by Jacqueline Fraser
Join volunteer guide Sarah Bourke as she discusses Jacqueline Fraser's The benediction of Goat Island our Saviour: A long view of our very blessed saviour from a distance (with goats rampant) on display in We Do This on the first floor.
Join guide coordinator Rebecca Ogle as she discusses As good as it gets by Susan Collis on display on the first floor.
Join volunteer guide June Goldstein as she discusses Louise Henderson's September on display in We Do This on the first floor.
Join art lover, philosopher, scientist and radical pyschotherapist John Woolf as he discusses Colin McCahon's Tomorow will be the same but not as this is on display on the first floor.
Three artists featured in our new exhibition We Do This describe how they get it done and what motivates them to do it in the first place. This talk is the second and final in the series.
On the opening night of the WORD Christchurch festival, Leonard Bell tells the story of the extraordinary group of European artists, writers, photographers and architects who arrived in New Zealand as forced migrants from the 1930s through the 1950s, and examines how their modernism radically reshaped the arts in this country.
Take a free guided tour of our collection highlights with one of our friendly, knowledgeable guides.
This year’s weekly ArtBite programme is about to start! From Friday 10 February, we will again offer a weekly presentation of a work on display here at Te Puna o Waiwhetū. The aim of these 30-minute talks is to give you an art break in the middle of your day. We know you’re busy, so this isn’t a long lecture meant to take up too much of your time. And they’re free. With a new work presented each Friday at 12.30pm, the information will be fresh so you can impress your friends during your weekend socialising.
The annual exhibition of Muka Studio lithographs by international artists especially for kids is back!
Take a free guided tour of our exhibition highlights with one of our friendly, knowledgeable guides.