Exhibition

Beasts

18 December 2015 – 30 April 2017

A generous, multimedia selection of animal-themed works, both lively and thoughtful.

Human beings share this amazing planet with a vast array of other creatures. We’ve lived alongside animals for thousands of years, domesticating some for our benefit; others have been impossible to tame. Artists’ depictions of animals can offer interesting ways of seeing and thinking about the world. Many of these works reflect on the human condition, suggesting that people, perhaps, are among the cleverest, and the strangest, of the beasts. 

 Exhibition number 992

Related

Commentary
Representing Women: Ann Shelton’s Dark Matter

Representing Women: Ann Shelton’s Dark Matter

What is ‘dark matter’? For theoretical physicists it is matter that cannot be directly observed but whose existence is nevertheless scientifically calculable –  productively present yet simultaneously invisible. In a similar vein, the everyday phrase ‘dark matter’ describes objects, conditions and situations that harbour unease or trauma. Trauma that is often concealed, repressed, or buried. Both definitions are active in Ann Shelton’s mid-career review exhibition Dark Matter, and they provide a rich point of entry into this compelling collection of her photographic work. These are photographs that bristle with intensity and refuse to let their subjects die a quiet archival death.

Exhibition
Ann Shelton: Dark Matter

Ann Shelton: Dark Matter

An expansive view of Ann Shelton’s tightly conceived, large scale and hyperreal photography

Commentary
Laurence Aberhart

Laurence Aberhart

New Zealand artist Laurence Aberhart is internationally regarded for his photographs of unpeopled landscapes and interiors. He photographs places redolent with the weight of time, which he captures with his century-old large-format camera and careful framing. But he’s always taken more spontaneous photographs of people too, particularly in the years he lived in Christchurch and Lyttelton (1975–83) when he photographed his young family, his friends and occasionally groups of strangers. ‘If I lived in a city again,’ he says, ‘I would photograph people. One of the issues is that I even find it difficult to ask people whether I can photograph a building, so to ask to photograph them – I’m very reticent. I also know that after a number of minutes of waiting for me to set cameras up and take exposure readings and so on, people can get rather annoyed. So it’s not a conscious thing, it’s more just an accident of the way I photograph.’

Exhibition
Aberhart Starts Here

Aberhart Starts Here

Iconic and unseen early photographs of Christchurch by Laurence Aberhart

Artist Profile
The Devil’s Blind Spot

The Devil’s Blind Spot

Te Puna o Waiwhetu Christchurch Art Gallery has a long-standing tradition of curating exhibitions of emerging and early-career artists. We do this in order to contribute to the ecology of the local art world, as well as because – quite straightforwardly – we’re interested in the practices of artists at all stages of their careers, and would like to bring the work of outstanding younger artists to wider public attention. The Devil’s Blind Spot is the latest in this ongoing series, but unlike earlier exhibitions, it’s concerned with a single medium – photography.

Exhibition
The Devil’s Blind Spot: Recent Strategies in New Zealand Photography

The Devil’s Blind Spot: Recent Strategies in New Zealand Photography

Recent photography by an emerging generation of New Zealand artists.

Commentary
The Camera as a Place of Potential

The Camera as a Place of Potential

To Māori, the colour black represents Te Korekore – the realm of potential being, energy, the void, and nothingness. The notion of potential and the presence of women are what I see when I peek at Fiona Pardington’s 1997 work Moko. And I say peek deliberately, because I am quite mindful of this work – it is downright spooky. Moko is a photographic rendering of a seeping water stain upon the blackboard in Pardington’s studio, taken while she was the recipient of the Frances Hodgkins Fellowship in Dunedin in 1997.

Exhibition
Joyce Campbell: Flightdream

Joyce Campbell: Flightdream

Joyce Campbell’s immersive video work takes the viewer on a journey into the ocean’s fathomless depths, exploring processes of creation and annihilation.

Notes
Largest ever Fiona Pardington exhibition opens in Christchurch

Largest ever Fiona Pardington exhibition opens in Christchurch

Death, sex, flesh and the female gaze are among the many themes explored in the Gallery’s newest exhibition, Fiona Pardington: A Beautiful Hesitation.

Commentary
The Lines That Are Left

The Lines That Are Left

Of landscape itself as artefact and artifice; as the ground for the inscribing hand of culture and technology; as no clean slate.

— Joanna Paul

The residential Red Zone is mostly green. After each house is demolished, contractors sweep up what is left, cover the section with a layer of soil and plant grass seed. Almost overnight, driveway, yard, porch, garage, shed and house become a little paddock; the border of plants and trees outlining it the only remaining sign that there was once a house there.

Exhibition
Fiona Pardington: A Beautiful Hesitation

Fiona Pardington: A Beautiful Hesitation

A survey exhibition by a leading New Zealand photographer explores sex, death and the female gaze.

Exhibition
Kamala, Astral and Charlotte, Lyttelton, March 1983

Kamala, Astral and Charlotte, Lyttelton, March 1983

Laurence Aberhart's 1983 photograph of Lyttelton children is displayed on our Gloucester Street billboard.

My Favourite
Selwyn Toogood, Levin

Selwyn Toogood, Levin

I spent much of my adolescence in hospital, confined to bed due to a chronic illness. With a 14" TV beside me, I’d travel to imaginary places via the controller of my Nintendo games console. At the time, I couldn’t imagine walking to the letterbox, let alone experiencing the more exotic places of the world.

Collection
Untitled (Ross Ice Shelf, Antarctica)
Connie Samaras Untitled (Ross Ice Shelf, Antarctica)

The Weddell seal inhabits the ice shelves around Antarctica, living and breeding further south on the planet than any other mammal. The known record for holding its breath is ninety-six minutes – an incredible feat which allows it time to find or make breathing holes in the ice, and to stay down long enough to capture its preferred prey, which often live very deep.

Los Angeles-based Connie Samaras made this video in Antarctica in 2005 while on a special study grant for artists and writers.

(Beasts, 2015)

The images shown here are stills taken from the video.

Collection
Tuatara, Stephens Island
John Johns Tuatara, Stephens Island

Tuatara means ‘spiny back’ in Māori. This unusual creature is found only in Aotearoa New Zealand. There are two species of tuatara, the last surviving members of an order of reptiles that existed alongside the dinosaurs 220 million years ago. That isn’t the only unique thing about the tuatara: they have a light-sensitive ‘third eye’ beneath the scales on the top of their head; its purpose is still not completely understood by scientists.

(Beasts, 2015)

Notes
Zoology

Zoology

I'm pretty sure the kids at my daughters pre-school haven't seen Cai Guo-Qiang's Heritage, which was commissioned for his show Falling Back To Earth at the Gallery of Modern Art in Brisbane last year.

Notes
The Mouse-trap by Petrus van der Velden

The Mouse-trap by Petrus van der Velden

This article first appeared as 'Cleverly caught' in The Press on 14 February 2014.

Notes
It's Showtime!

It's Showtime!

Today is Show Day here in Canterbury. Over at Canterbury Agricultural Park you can see thousands of animals being put through their paces or if you'd rather, you can look at some of these equally beautiful beasts from our collection.

Notes
Eileen Mayo

Eileen Mayo

It's 107 years since this multi-talented artist, described by art historian Kenneth Clark as 'outstandingly good', was born in Norwich, England.

Notes
Lizard's Lounge

Lizard's Lounge

I stumbled into their lair on accident, and found myself in a madhouse of reptilian decree. I immediately froze, in a vain hope they had not noticed me in my peculiarity, but my attempts were feeble, I had been seen. I felt a cold sweat and a shiver ran down my spine as they glared at me with beady black eyes from a nebulous of smoke and dust that choked the room. I was their intruder. One of the lizards mockingly hissed a welcome, 'Please take a seat, you look weary.'

 

Collection
Large Mammal Storage Bay #1, Canterbury Museum
Neil Pardington Large Mammal Storage Bay #1, Canterbury Museum

For a large, intensive photographic project that he called The Vault, Neil Pardington used his camera to see what discoveries could be made in the hidden storage spaces of museums and art galleries throughout New Zealand.

This assemblage of taxidermied beasts was found in a storeroom at Canterbury Museum, kept in safekeeping while unneeded for display. All facing the same direction, it’s almost as if they’re waiting for their moment to escape.

(Beasts, 2015)

Collection
The Mouse-trap
Petrus van der Velden The Mouse-trap

The Dutch painter Petrus van der Velden arrived in Christchurch in 1890 for what was intended to be a short visit to New Zealand. Staying longer than he had planned, he made an impact on the local scene as a ‘real artist’ from old Europe in their midst.

This painting was shown by a Christchurch art dealer in 1893, and described by a reporter:

The picture is entitled ‘The Mouse-trap’, and represents a boy holding the trap with a mouse in it which he has just caught. The face of the boy is beautifully painted, the expression of pleasure being very cleverly caught.

(Beasts, 2015)

Notes
Loads of bulls

Loads of bulls

Looking out of the library window at the Kings Manor here in York I can see a bronze calf.

Notes
A Well Timed Care Package

A Well Timed Care Package

One of the best-timed gifts my family and I have ever received arrived at our home on Mt Pleasant in May. 

Notes
Animals

Animals

The Gallery's Registration department keeps a close watch on our collection of art, with regular audits to make sure all is as it should be.

Notes
Urban fauna

Urban fauna

My final days at Julia Morison's 'Meet me on the other side' at NG

Notes
When is a dog a mouse?

When is a dog a mouse?

Throughout the centuries man has delighted in creating representations of his canine companions.

Collection
Living Large 6
Bill Hammond Living Large 6

Pale, birdlike figures look into the distance from tall trees, like so many watchers on a ship’s mast. Behind and above the windswept waves, a Victorian gentleman-horse is seated with his whippet and double bass. Watched by an assembly of shadowy birds’ heads, he remains dignified and untroubled, appearing destined for a life of ambitious success. He seems oblivious to the impact of his presence.

(Beasts, 2015)

Exhibition
Menagerie: Animals from the Gallery's Permanent Collections

Menagerie: Animals from the Gallery's Permanent Collections

Menagerie brings together 17 historical and contemporary paintings, prints, photographs and sculpture from the Gallery's Permanent Collections, all of which feature an animal of some description, from cats, dogs and birds to horses, bulls, fish and even a hippopotamus!

Article
Taryn Simon's known unknowns

Taryn Simon's known unknowns

In 2003, the American photographer Taryn Simon embarked upon a four-year heart-of-darkness journey. In response to paranoid rumours of WMDs and secret sites in Iraq, she turned her gaze to places and things hidden within her own country.

Exhibition
Laurence Aberhart: Nature Morte

Laurence Aberhart: Nature Morte

Nature Morte is an exhibition of 105 photographs, taken between 1971 and 1989 by New Zealand photographer Laurence Aberhart.

Collection
Collie Dog
Duncan Grant Collie Dog

Collie Dog is from a set titled ‘Six Lithographs’, a collaboration between Duncan Grant and Vanessa Bell, with each artist contributing three works. Grant’s three lithographs also included Hawk and The Cat and were produced at Miller’s Press. Grant was an active printmaker throughout most of his career, producing prints alongside his activity as a painter, designer, potter and decorator. He is a major figure in 20th century British art and was a central member of the Bloomsbury Group. He was also closely associated with the Omega Workshops which operated in London between 1913 and 1919.

Collection
My Sister, My Self
Michael Parekowhai My Sister, My Self

Michael Parekowhai’s My Sister, My Self recalls a once-common sight in suburban New Zealand front gardens: the concrete seal with a chrome ball on its nose, a home-grown version of the performing circus seal. Connecting to other histories, it also recalls the kekeno, the New Zealand fur seal, which had an unfortunate central role in our pre-colonial past.

At the pinnacle of this spectacular balancing act is a replica of the artist Marcel Duchamp’s famous 1913 Bicycle Wheel – a bicycle wheel upside down on a wooden stool. Duchamp made it for his own pleasure – he liked spinning the wheel in his studio – and later described it as his first ‘readymade’.

(Beasts)

Collection
Armadillo
Graham Sutherland Armadillo

The armadillo lives in South America. Its name means ‘little armoured one’ in Spanish. Among the twenty different species of this interesting creature, the three-banded armadillo is the only one that can roll itself into a tight ball when it needs to for protection.

The painter Graham Sutherland made this print as part of a ‘Bestiary’ published in 1968, a collection of twenty-six lithographs featuring different animals, each one suggesting a particular human-like quality. Curling tight, this armadillo may be expressing fear.

(Beasts, 2015)

Collection
A Cow
Balthazar Paul Ommeganck A Cow

This cow belongs to an ancient breed of cattle, once common in Belgium and the Netherlands, but now almost extinct. Called the Kempens rund (Campine cattle), it was bred for milk, cheese, butter and beef; its numbers were greatly reduced during World War I when the farming area where they lived became a battlefield.

This painting is probably by the Flemish painter Balthazar Paul Ommeganck. He was one of many admirers of the Dutch seventeenth-century painter Paulus Potter, who had started something new in painting by making farm animals his main subjects, rather than minor, incidental elements.

(Beasts, 2015)

Collection
Husband
Francis Upritchard Husband

Francis Upritchard’s baboon-ish Husband and Wife are like animals from an imaginary zoo, though their expressions may have been borrowed from the human visitors who come to stare at the beasts. Husband, absorbed with his own cleverness, does not mind such attention; Wife seems less comfortable, cringing under the viewers’ gaze.

Based in London, Upritchard is a sculpture graduate (1998) from the University of Canterbury’s School of Fine Arts. Since her first exhibition in London in 2000, she has shown in many different parts of the world.

(Beasts, 2015)

Collection
Cats In The Trees
Eileen Mayo Cats In The Trees

Cats were a particularly favourite subject of Eileen Mayo but all animal and botanical subjects were a constant source of inspiration for her. She illustrated several books on nature subjects, including the monumental The Story of Living Things and Their Evolution (1948). A major influence on Mayo was Claude Flight, under whom she studied the linocut technique at the Grosvenor School of Modern Art in 1928. She exhibited regularly with the British Linocut exhibitions held in London between 1929 and 1937. Mayo emigrated to Sydney in 1953 and settled in New Zealand in 1962. She taught at the University of Canterbury School of Fine Art from 1967 to 1972.

There is an information sheet available about this work.

Collection
The Bruiser, C. Churchill (once the Revd), in the Character of a Russian Hercules, Regaling himself after having Kill’d the Monster Caricatura that so Sorely Gall’d his Virtuous friend, the Heaven born Wilkes
William Hogarth The Bruiser, C. Churchill (once the Revd), in the Character of a Russian Hercules, Regaling himself after having Kill’d the Monster Caricatura that so Sorely Gall’d his Virtuous friend, the Heaven born Wilkes

Here’s some beastly behaviour: William Hogarth, a famous eighteenth-century British artist, trading insults with two gentlemen whom he had greatly upset. Hogarth had published an engraving attacking the journalist Charles Churchill and the politician John Wilkes, and another showing Wilkes being tried in court. Churchill, in return, published a vicious poem about Hogarth. He retaliated by making this print, picturing Churchill as a drunken bear, clutching a beer tankard and a club covered in ‘lyes’. The picture in the lower right-hand corner shows Hogarth whipping Churchill and Wilkes (as a performing bear and monkey) into line. Meanwhile, Hogarth’s pug passes judgement on Churchill’s poem.

(Beasts, 2015)

Collection
Hill Leopards
Arthur Wardle Hill Leopards

Animal studies were popular in Victorian and Edwardian times and Hill Leopards is typical of their kind. It is unlikely that Arthur Wardle would have ever seen the African leopards in their native habitat. Rather, he observed the animals at the London Zoo and placed them in an imaginary landscape. Wardle was continuing the tradition of earlier English animal painters such as George Stubbs (1724 -1806). Painted with the fine brush treatment of the Academic tradition, the silkiness of the fur, feathery grasses and smooth rock surfaces are all presented very realistically and would have been a quite convincing likeness for the contemporary viewer. Born in London, Wardle received no formal art training but was a popular artist specialising in both domestic and wild animal subjects. Although he was self-taught, he was accepted into traditional art establishments such as the Royal Academy. He was also a member of the Royal Institute of Painters and the Royal British Colonial Society of Artists.

Collection
Persimmon (Study of a Racehorse)
Betty Harrison Persimmon (Study of a Racehorse)

Nora Elizabeth (Betty) Harrison grew up in rural Canterbury, where she developed a passion for horses. She brought her knowledge of horses to creating this plaster sculpture, painted to resemble bronze. It is believed to have been modelled after a photograph of a famous stud racehorse owned by King Edward VII.

Harrison was at the Canterbury College School of Art when she made this work. A top student there in the 1920s while in her teenage years, she studied there until 1930 and then went into nursing. Tragically, she caught tuberculosis from a patient and died aged just twenty-five.

(Beasts, 2015)

Collection
Wife
Francis Upritchard Wife

Francis Upritchard’s baboon-ish Husband and Wife are like animals from an imaginary zoo, though their expressions may have been borrowed from the human visitors who come to stare at the beasts. Husband, absorbed with his own cleverness, does not mind such attention; Wife seems less comfortable, cringing under the viewers’ gaze.

Based in London, Upritchard is a sculpture graduate (1998) from the University of Canterbury’s School of Fine Arts. Since her first exhibition in London in 2000, she has shown in many different parts of the world.

(Beasts, 2015)

Collection
A Shot in the Dark (Bear Rug)
Steve Carr A Shot in the Dark (Bear Rug)

Apparently testing the limits of incorrectness, Auckland-based multimedia artist Steve Carr commissioned a skilled woodcarver to realise his highly improbable carved bearskin rug.

Bearskin rugs during the Victorian and Edwardian era craze for taxidermy were almost a standard feature in British country houses, typically in a gentleman’s trophy room or study. They came to symbolise wild nature and distant lands, ultimately tamed. Carr’s project, however, has little to do with tameness, either in conception or in its surprisingly lifelike growling effect

(Beasts, 2015)

Collection
Povi Christkeke
Michel Tuffery Povi Christkeke

Michel Tuffery, a Wellington-based artist of Samoan and Tahitian Cook Islands descent, has taken cues from pop art in his use of food packaging to create the spectacular Povi Christkeke (which translates from Samoan as Christchurch Bull).

Constructed from recycled corned beef tins, this bull tells us that corned beef has become a staple food throughout the Pacific. Because of this it may be seen as a monster, an introduced beast grown powerful by replacing more environmentally friendly traditions of food production and gathering.

(Beasts, 2015)

Notes
My Sister My Self by Michael Parekowhai

My Sister My Self by Michael Parekowhai

This article first appeared with the headline Top-stair sculpture in The Press on 30 April 2008.

If you've done your first year art history, you're probably familiar with the story of How Sculpture Fell from Grace.

Notes
Cats in the Trees by Eileen Mayo

Cats in the Trees by Eileen Mayo

The pair of domestic tigers slink slyly across the surface of the paper, prowling through the branches of a suburban tree, dispatching terror throughout the bird world and trepidation into the lives of assorted dogs.

Notes
Povi Christkeke by Michel Tuffery

Povi Christkeke by Michel Tuffery

Povi Christkeke (Christchurch Bull), a large bullock constructed from flattened and riveted re-cycled corned beef tins, is a colourful and seemingly celebratory sculpture. Artist Michel Tuffery constructed two of these corned beef bull sculptures for a ritual performance entitled Pisupo Lua Afe at the 1997 Christchurch Arts Festival. Pisupo Lua Afe was also included at the inaugural Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art in Brisbane 1993.