Exhibition

Brought to Light: A New View of the Collection

February 2010 – February 2011

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.

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Storytellers

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.

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Gembox

Gembox

While work continues on our brand-new collection exhibition, opening late November, Gembox offers a range of historical highlights from the Gallery's collection.

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Ron O'Reilly: The Collector's Eye

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.

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Suites from the Permanent Collection

Suites from the Permanent Collection

An exhibition of print suites by contemporary New Zealand artists.

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Table of Dynasties
John Reynolds Table of Dynasties

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)

Collection
Mauria mai, tono ano
Fiona Pardington Mauria mai, tono ano

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.

Collection
Book of the Hook
Richard Killeen Book of the Hook

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)

Collection
Ruth
Raymond McIntyre Ruth

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)

Collection
The Physician
Gerrit Dou The Physician

Gerrit Dou, a leading figure in Dutch painting ’s Golden Age, was Rembrandt’s first pupil for three years from the age of fourteen in 1628. Before long, he had eclipsed his master’s reputation; his meticulous, highly detailed paintings were prized by the wealthiest collectors.

The Physician’s earliest documented owner is Somerset- born Henry Francis Gray, who reached Port Lyttelton aged eighteen in 1856 and went into farming in Canterbury. 25 years later, Gray was commended in local newspapers for lending this treasure for the Canterbury Society of Arts’ first exhibition in 1881. Passing through family lines, it was bequeathed to the Gallery in 1965 by his great-nephew, the prominent Christchurch architect Heathcote Helmore.

(Treasury: A Generous Legacy, 18 December 2015 – 27 November 2016)

Notes
Pacific Flotsam

Pacific Flotsam

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. 

Notes
Wall to wall van der Velden

Wall to wall van der Velden

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.

Notes
New van der Velden painting on display

New van der Velden painting on display

Visitors to the Gallery will soon have the chance to see one of Petrus van der Velden's earliest works.

Notes
We won the top honours at the 2010 New Zealand Museums Awards!

We won the top honours at the 2010 New Zealand Museums Awards!

It's official, we won top honours in the Exhibition Excellence category at the 2010 New Zealand Museums Awards in New Plymouth last night.