Our lively new historical collection exhibitions explore Māori architecture, colonial portraiture, early landscape painting and mid-century abstraction.
From customary Māori carving and weaving to contemporary works of art that provide compelling new ways to look at the world around us, by way of colonial portraits and much-loved mid-century landscapes, our lively new collection exhibitions give unique insights into our artistic and cultural heritage.
The city’s art collection began with a single painting in 1881 and, through generous gifts, bequests, and purchases over fourteen decades, now numbers nearly 7,000 works. We continue to collect art for the people of Ōtautahi Christchurch, and their visitors. Like our local community, the collection is constantly changing and growing as we build on the strengths of the past to imagine a new future. It’s a treasure, or taonga, and it belongs to all of us.
Brought to Light: A New View of the Collection
Our upstairs collection galleries have undergone an exciting and dynamic redesign – the first full rehang of the collection since Christchurch Art Gallery opened in its new building in 2003.
In Search of Rose Zeller
Enveloped in her dark brown coat and wearing an unconventional and distinctive striped shirt, Rose Zeller looks out from the canvas with an engaging and knowing smile. Painted around 1936 by her friend, fellow artist and teacher in craft and design, Daisy Osborn, it’s a rare view of an artist who, while scarcely remembered today, was an unconventional and respected figure during the interwar years.
The World Tossed Continuously in a Riot of Colour, Form, Sound
One hundred and twenty five years ago, after years of political struggle, Aotearoa New Zealand granted all adults the right to vote by extending suffrage to women. To mark this anniversary, for this issue of Bulletin our curators have written about some of the Gallery’s significant – yet lesser-known – nineteenth and mid-twentieth-century works by women. Our intention is to make these paintings, and the cultural contribution of the artists, more visible in 2018.
The Dutch Funeral, Retitled
When you think about it, The Dutch Funeral is a peculiar title for a work painted in the Netherlands, by a Dutch artist. You could imagine such a work being titled The Funeral, or A Funeral; or even more likely, A Funeral at a Specified Place or possibly At a Specified Time. Even Of a Certain Person. But The Dutch Funeral? Most unlikely. It was while we were researching works for the Closer exhibition that its strangeness suddenly became evident to me. I was surprised that I’d never questioned the title before. But then, like many people who grew up in Christchurch, I was used to The Dutch Funeral as a fixture of local culture, a work so large it could never be taken off the wall at the McDougall; a magnificently gloomy painting which van der Velden scholar Rodney Wilson once described as “a sort of Christchurch version of the Night Watch with an immense public following”.