The long-awaited exhibition is a spectacular survey of more than two decades of work by one of New Zealand's leading contemporary painters.
Jingle Jangle Morning, taken from a verse in Bob Dylan’s song Mr Tambourine Man, is the title of an opulent Bill Hammond painting depicting majestic avian musicians and serpentine creatures who sing, dance and play instruments upon a floating world of golden clouds and mountainous divides. It is also the title for Christchurch Art Gallery’s long-awaited exhibition of more than two decades of Hammond’s work and the accompanying catalogue, designed by Aaron Beehre, with texts by Jennifer Hay, Ron Brownson, Chris Knox and Laurence Aberhart.
Bill Hammond is one of New Zealand’s most influential contemporary artists. He was born in Christchurch in 1947 and attended the University of Canterbury School of Fine Arts. During the 1970s, he worked in a sign factory, made jewellery and designed and manufactured wooden toys before returning fulltime to painting in 1981. Birds first began to populate Hammond’s paintings after he visited the Auckland Islands in 1989, as part of the Art in the Subantarctic project. The three-week trip to the remote, windswept islands, where the severity of the climate has allowed little human impact on the natural environment was something of a revelation.
In an interview with Gregory O’Brien for Lands and Deeds (Godwit, Auckland, 1996), Hammond spoke of the islands as a kind of lost world, ruled over by beak and claw: 'The Auckland Islands are like New Zealand before people got here. It’s bird land.'
Bill Hammond’s compositions encompass humour, beauty, and lyricism while reflecting a unique expression of New Zealand’s cultural landscape. This spectacular exhibition includes early music inspired paintings, as well as Hammond’s Walter Buller series painted after his visit to the sub-Antarctic, through to the startling zoomorphic paintings, ancestral studies and recent work that takes the extinct Giant New Zealand Eagle as its theme. Hammond’s luscious palette of inky blues, his signature use of emerald green and gold and his endlessly inventive combination of anthropomorphic birds, horses and hybrid creatures will offer viewers a unique insight into the oeuvre of this singular artist.
Principal Exhibition Sponsor: Ernst & Young.
The exhibition and accompanying publication are supported by the Friends of Christchurch Art Gallery.
- Curator: Jennifer Hay
- Exhibition number: 774
De Lautour / Greig / Hammond
An exciting opportunity to see new work by leading Canterbury artists Tony de Lautour, Jason Greig and Bill Hammond
In Greek mythology, Icarus flew too close to the sun, melting the wax that bound his wings and causing him to plunge into the sea. Bill Hammond uses this legend to suggest the threat posed to the natural environment by humans. Hammond’s birds look on dispassionately, their own wings emphasising the absurdity of Icarus’s fatal desire. The Fall of Icarus takes a work by Dutch artist Pieter Bruegel the Elder (c.1558) as a pivotal reference. The same compositional format – elevated viewpoint, figures in the foreground and the tiny body of the fallen Icarus disappearing into the sea – are seen in the original painting. Hammond was born in Christchurch and studied at the University of Canterbury School of Fine Arts between 1966 and 1968. In 1989 he joined a number of other New Zealand artists on an expedition to Antarctica and the Auckland Islands.’Bill Hammond: Jingle Jangle Morning’ (2007) is the most recent survey of Hammond’s work to date, organised by Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu.
An exhibition of recent work by Tony de Lautour, Jason Greig and Bill Hammond opens at our NG space on Madras street tomorrow. These artists have had limited opportunities to show their work since the quakes so this exhibition is well worth a visit if you have the time.
Here's a taster of some of their work.
A miscellany of observable illustrations
Romantic notions of gothic leanings, the legacy of Tony Fomison, devotion to rock sub-genres and an eye to the past are familiar and sound reasons to group Tony de Lautour, Jason Greig and Bill Hammond together in one exhibition, but De Lautour / Greig / Hammond is to feature new and recent work. Could all this change? What nuances will be developed or abandoned? Will rich veins be further mined? We can only speculate and accept that even the artists concerned can't answer these questions. For the artist, every work is a new endeavour, a new beginning. What may appear to the public, the critic or the art historian as a smooth, seamless flow of images is for them an unpredictable process where the only boundaries are those that they choose to invent.
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.
Coming Home in the Dark
Fourteen artists with connections to the Mainland are represented in an exhibition that explores the dark underbelly of the region's genteel appearance.
Canterbury Painting in the 1990s
A major exhibition celebrating the breadth and diversity of Canterbury painting between 1990 and 2000.
For the exhibition Wunderbox (28 November 2008 - 15 February 2009), this work was displayed with the following label.
Bill Hammond led one of the most influential tendencies in New Zealand painting of the late 1990s – Post-colonial Gothic. Shag Pile is one of his many paintings inspired by nineteenth-century campaigns to catalogue New Zealand’s dwindling native species, in particular the efforts of Walter Lowry Buller. The contradictions of Buller’s character – a recorder and chronicler of birds who killed and stuffed many – have made him a figure of fascination not only for Hammond but also for sculptor Warren Viscoe and playwright Nick Drake. In Shag Pile, Buller’s campaign plays out like a bad dream projected on the patterned walls of a claustrophobic Victorian parlour, where New Zealand spotted shags are heaped, laid out for processing, and sealed under bell jars.
Turning a traditional depiction of the New Zealand landscape upside down, this vertical triptych presents a zigzagging arrangement of curtains that fall from the sky and splice the terrain, of mountainous divides that appear upon tables and strange creatures that morph and writhe.
Early works by Bill Hammond are awash with visual sampling, splicing and mixing – from popular culture and art history. Comic book narration, the oblique angles and frames of 1950s film noir and, notably, the multiple vanishing points found in the proto-surrealist paintings of Giorgio De Chirico (1888–1978), give structure to Hammond’s alternative cityscapes of the late 1980s and early 1990s. Hammond was born in Christchurch and studied at the University of Canterbury School of Fine Arts. For a period after leaving art school he designed and manufactured wooden toys. He held his first solo exhibition in 1976 and since then has exhibited regularly. His work is represented in private and public collections throughout New Zealand. Bill Hammond: Jingle Jangle Morning (20 July – 22 October 2007) is the most recent survey of Hammond’s work to date, organised by Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu.
Relief etching relating to the now extinct New Zealand eagle which has been a central theme in Hammond's work in recent years. Profile view of a human body with eagle head.
Gertrude Demain Hammond was a prolific London illustrator who was also active in exhibiting her watercolours. A Reading from Plato was shown at the Royal Academy in London in 1903 before coming to Christchurch for the 1906–07 New Zealand International Exhibition. There it was purchased by the avid local art collector James Jamieson, who with his brother William, ran one of the city’s largest construction companies.
Following his death in 1927, James’s family presented many works of art from his collection to become part of the Robert McDougall Art Gallery’s founding collection, which at its opening in 1932 consisted of 160 paintings and sculptures.
(Treasury: A Generous Legacy 18 December 2015 – 27 November 2016)
Watching for Buller is part of a series of work by Bill Hammond that brings together his interests in the land, New Zealand bird-life and 19th century ornithologist Sir Walter Buller. Painted soon after a journey to the Auckland Islands, it references the extinction of native bird species – ironically, as Buller himself contributed to their demise, killing then mounting specimens in glass cases.
In this work, finely decorated birds stand in profile upon a sheer coastal landscape, anxiously awaiting Buller’s arrival. The scene hints at the ways the natural environment and its inhabitants have been exploited, destroyed and driven out.
Hammond was born in Christchurch and studied at the University of Canterbury School of Fine Arts between 1966 and 1968. For a period following his graduation he designed and manufactured wooden toys. He had his first solo exhibition in 1979 and has since exhibited widely in group and solo exhibitions. In 1989 he joined a number of other New Zealand artists on an expedition to Antarctica and the Auckland Islands. He won the James Wallace Award in 1993 and the Visa Gold Art Award in 1994.
This print appears as 'Edward Hammond Hargraves. The discoverer of gold in Australia.' on page 740 of the 'Picturesque Atlas of Australasia.'