A Harbour View

25 May – 24 August 1989

For almost 140 years Lyttelton Harbour, or Waka-raupo as it was called by the Maori people of Canterbury, has provided artists with a unique source of inspiration. Its many bays and inlets have aroused in artists over the decades, responses as varied as the subjects chosen. This exhibition which is comprised mostly of works on loan from public and private collections aims to explore these responses.

The earliest artist works represented are those by Edmund Norman and Richard A. Oliver who viewed the harbour with a purely topographical eye. The response of studio artist John Gibb two decades later was somewhat different. Gibb saw the harbour as a place of changing activity and weather. He responded not only to the topographical aspect of the harbour landscape but also to the atmosphere it evoked.

In the early twentieth century impressionist and expressionist vision gave rise to yet another response from artists who largely worked out of doors before their subject, exploring its light and colour potential. Sydney L. Thompson, Cecil Kelly, Archibald Nicoll, Margaret Stoddart and Evelyn Page were among those who gave harbour subjects a new identity in their painting. Others such as Ivy Fife, W. A. Sutton, Doris Lusk, Olivia Spencer Bower. Rudolph Gopas and Russell Clark have more recently found in the harbour hill forms and sea, contrasts of structure that have provided inspiration for expanding their own particular vision of the harbour landscape.

('A Harbour View', Bulletin, No.63, May/June 1989, p.2)