Murray Ball: Footrot Flats in Focus

29 November 1990 – 22 January 1991

From December 5 1990 until January 22 1991, the McDougall Art Annex will present Footrot Flats in Focus – A 1990 Perspective, billed as one of the most unusual museum and gallery exhibitions ever to be mounted in this country.

The impetus for the exhibition, which was prepared by the Gisborne Museum and Arts Centre, developed in the aftermath of Cyclone Bola which severely battered the Gisborne district in 1988. the Museum's Director, Dr Wayne Orchiston recalled:

"There was a depressing clean-up period after the cyclone. I wondered how the Museum and Arts Centre, once the district was on its feet again, could take Gisborne to the people of New Zealand in a way that everybody could relate to."

Dr Orchiston's solution was a touring exhibition celebrating Footrot Flats, the popular cartoon creation of Gisborne's own graphic artist Murray Ball, which appears in 120 different newspapers world-wide, has sold more than six million copies in book form, and was the subject of an award-winning animated feature film.

The exhibition is an official New Zealand 1990 project, which Dr Orchiston sees as highly appropriate. "Footrot Flats is at the very heart of the New Zealand ethos," he says, "It is specifically about New Zealand and New Zealanders and through The Dog's genius and Wal's obstinacy, touches on many of the issues that confront our nation."

"It is very much about our past, our present and our future, and as much mirrors the philosophy of the 1990 celebrations."

The exhibition includes a wealth of original cartoon material, various honours and awards, examples of fan mail, and a video of the Footrot Flats film.

There will be a small charge for entry to this popular exhibition, the proceeds of which will be used to help support the activities of the Annex, the Robert McDougall Art Gallery's venue for contemporary art.

('Footrot Flats in Focus', Bulletin, No.71, November/December 1990, p.2)

This exhibition was held at the McDougall Art Annex in the Arts Centre.

"There was a depressing clean-up period after the cyclone. I wondered how the Museum and Arts Centre, once the district was on its feet again, could take Gisborne to the people of New Zealand in a way that everybody could relate to."

– Dr Wayne Orchiston - Director, Gisborne Museum and Arts Centre