20 July – 3 September 1995
This is a retrospective exhibition of works of the British born artist and designer Gordon Crook produced during his past 21 years in New Zealand. Living and working in Wellington he is recognised for the spectacular banners at the Michael Fowler Centre, Wellington and for his innovative work in tapestry, printmaking, ceramics, fabric, drawing and painting.
Born in 1921, and having studied at St Martin's School, and at the Central School in London, Gordon Crook lectured in design at the Royal College of Art and was a lecturer and acting Head of Department at the Central School prior to his arrival in New Zealand in 1972.
Here he has produced a rich and vast quantity of work in a wide range of media all reflecting his daring skill with materials and design. An innovator working outside many of the boundaries between art, craft and design, he has created his own distinctive world of symbols, images and style using abstract and figurative elements from both the manufactured and natural worlds. As a tapestry maker of international calibre and an excellent printmaker Crook has achieved international recognition in England and the USA and has important commissions from Washington, Tonga, Samoa and Mexico.
This display of 58 works was selected by the curator Kate Derum a lecturer in tapestry at Monash University, Melbourne and consultant to the Victorian Tapestry Workshop. It includes samples of Gordon Crook's tapestries, drawings, photomontage and prints. Their themes arise from what the artist describes as an outward expression of his inner self; the moods, nuances and incidents of his own life. He addresses the current issues, delves back into his childhood, looks honestly at his relationships, his surroundings and at his responses to these situations and events.
As an artist Gordon Crook is also a splendid colourist. He produces amazing colour harmonies, strong dissonances and contrasts which play a crucial role in his designs. For special effects he sometimes uses up to 20 screens for his prints and on the tapestries twills two or three yarns together.
The Wolf Man series featured in both the tapestries and prints arose from his reading in 1990 of Freud's 'Wolf Man'. 'I did not deliberately embark upon a Wolf Man project,' he says. 'The story became the concept of my own dreams and drawings, stirring memories of the flames of desires forgotten. I began to put Wolf Man adventures beside my own and to such remembrances and reverie another multi-dimensional portrait started to emerge....' This became a major series occupying over 18 months.
In An Introduction to the world of Gordon Crook images, symbols, dreams we are offered intimate adventures into the artist's own psyche. Gordon Crook tends to ignore the social conventions that encourage people to be guarded about their feelings, dreams and ideas. Thus in this exhibition, toured by Exhibitour NZ with the support of the Queen Elizabeth II Arts Council and Brooker's, we confront the work of an artist who chooses to break this convention and spurn the normal social reticence. He does it with astounding skill.
('An Introduction to the world of Gordon Crook images, symbols, dreams', Bulletin, No.96, June/July 1996, pp.1-2)
Robert McDougall Art Gallery - main gallery