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.
Climb the stairs at the Gallery and you'll encounter a new view of the collection – completely reconfigured and refreshed.
Titled Brought to Light: A New View of the Collection, the exhibition features previously seldom-seen works, a great many new ones, and plenty of new conversations amongst old favourites.
The exhibition's title is inspired by the title of Fiona Pardington's suite of seven photographs, Mauria mai, tono ano, some of the first works you'll see in the space.
'Mauria mai, tono ano' translates from Māori as 'to bring to light, to claim again'. Each of the seven photographs depicts a Ngāi Tahu heitiki (greenstone pendant) from the Auckland Museum, presented at a scale closer to that of a painted portrait than a traditional archival photograph. The greenstone appears not to reflect light but to emit it; the forms shift and ripple like live things.
For any art institution charged with conserving the past, registering the present and offering suggestions for the future, the challenge to 'bring to light' is at once daunting and inspiring. Brought to Light is our response to that challenge.
Read the blog posts we wrote while this exhibition was being prepared.
- Location: Collection Galleries
- Exhibition number: 835B
Our Collection: 19th and 20th Century New Zealand Art
Our lively new historical collection exhibitions explore Māori architecture, colonial portraiture, early landscape painting and mid-century abstraction.
Storytellers explores the narrative genre popular during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and includes collection favourites such as van der Velden's The Dutch funeral.
While work continues on our brand-new collection exhibition, opening late November, Gembox offers a range of historical highlights from the Gallery's collection.
Ron O'Reilly: The Collector's Eye
Nigerian sculptures meet paintings by 1950s and 1960s New Zealand modernists. Ron O'Reilly – Christchurch City Librarian from 1951 to 1968 – is recognised as a significant champion of the arts.
Suites from the Permanent Collection
An exhibition of print suites by contemporary New Zealand artists.
John Reynolds likes to rummage in reference books and celebrate what he finds there in paint. His book of choice here is the ‘Thames and Hudson Dictionary of Art Terms’. But where dictionaries impose order on art, Reynolds cheerfully disorders it. He takes terms out of the dictionary and brings them back into the material world, spreading them in silver across more than 1,650 canvases – from ‘abacus’ to ‘zeitgeist’, a mind-bending jumble sale. ‘Table of dynasties’ holds up an unexpected mirror to the Gallery's own collection – a place where ideas and images stack up in unexpected ways. (Brought to Light, November 2009)
The title of this work translates from Mâori as ‘to bring to light, to claim again’. Each of the seven silver gelatin photographs depicts a Ngai Tahu heitiki (greenstone pendant) from the Auckland Museum. All from South Island locations, the heitiki are very sacred objects and it took Fiona Pardington 18 months to get permission from hapu (sub-tribes) to photograph them. Traditionally worn close to the heart, heitiki are fertility symbols and so are strongly connected with life and death.
Pardington has used an average of ten flashes for each exposure. This process recalls a Mâori idea that light is held within greenstone, suggesting that what Pardington was doing was not illuminating the heitiki, but releasing a light that was already there.
Pardington was born in Auckland. She is of Scottish and Mâori (Ngai Tahu, Kati Mamoe) descent. Since graduating with a degree in photography in 1984 from the University of Auckland, Pardington has exhibited widely and lectured on photography throughout New Zealand. She lives in Auckland.
Richard Killeen came to the fore in the 1960s as a painter of oddly stilled and poster-like scenes of sub- urban New Zealand life. He consolidated his growing reputation in the late 1970s when he made the first of his ‘cut-outs’, in which compositional elements were cleanly sliced from pieces of aluminium and allowed to hang in variable arrangements on the gallery wall. For the last two decades Killeen has expanded and deepened the range and possibilities of the ‘cut-out’ format. By the mid-1980s, each individual piece had begun to bustle with images culled from a vast range of sources. In Book of the Hook he concocts a pseudo-museum of anthropological fragments, all 253 of which come from an invented organisation called the ‘Hook Museum’.
Wunderbox (28 November 2008 -15 February 2009)
Arriving in London in 1909, the Christchurch-born and trained Raymond McIntyre soon gained a reputation there for his small, pared-back landscapes and studies of female heads, painted in an elegant, simplified, Japanese woodblock inspired style. This painting was modelled on an actor and dancer who became his principal muse from 1912, sometimes mentioned in his letters home: “The girl who is sitting for me a lot now, Sylvia Constance Cavendish… has a very refined interesting pale face… I have done some very good work from her… she is quite a find.”
McIntyre died in London in 1933. Seven of his works were given by his family between 1938 and 1991.
(Treasury: A Generous Legacy, 18 December 2015 – 27 November 2016)
Gerrit Dou was a leading figure in Dutch painting during the 1600s – a period often referred to as the Golden Age. A pupil of Rembrandt van Rijn, Dou favoured painting interior scenes and his work is renowned for its minute detail and immaculate finish. In The Physician a learned man examines the contents of a flask thought to contain urine, a test frequently used to diagnose pregnancy in the seventeenth century. Although it is a small painting, it is full of symbolism: the putti playing with a goat in the frieze represents sinful pleasure and the medical book opened on a page featuring a human skeleton leaning against a shovel represents a gravedigger, a memento mori, or reminder of our own mortality.
(New Dawn Fades, November 2018)
I was delighted to be asked by Judith Blackall, curator at Sydney's National Art School Gallery to speak at the opening of their new Bill Culbert exhibition earlier this month. We had lent our floor sculpture Pacific Flotsam and it features here on the poster.
Right now, visitors to the Gallery have an excellent opportunity to view three key paintings by Petrus van der Velden in the current Brought To Light hang, and all without even having to take a single step.
Visitors to the Gallery will soon have the chance to see one of Petrus van der Velden's earliest works.
It's official, we won top honours in the Exhibition Excellence category at the 2010 New Zealand Museums Awards in New Plymouth last night.