Exhibition

Untitled (Bathers)

Now open

Séraphine Pick's lush watercolour offers a utopian vision in the car park elevator.

As you ride between floors in the elevator from the Gallery car park, you'll also be transported to an inner world of the artist's imagination. Pick's painting depicts groups of bathers in a pool surrounded by bush, with a canopy of kaponga, or silver tree fern, overhead: it's concerned with the failure of utopian dreams. Commissioned to fit the proportions of the elevator, the original watercolour has been made into a large-scale digital print which immerses you in the detail of the brushwork – enabling you to revel in its blots and blooms, its drips and transparent washes.

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The Gallery's Watercolour Collection had modest beginnings, but over the past 70 years it has grown steadily by gift and purchase and, of all the Collections, still maintains a largely traditional emphasis. When the Gallery opened in June 1932, just 28 of the 128 paintings on display were watercolours and, of these, 11 were by British artists and 17 by New Zealanders. Among the mostly nineteenth century British watercolours were those by Helen Allingham, Edgar Bundy, Matthew Hale, Laura Knight, William Lee Hankey and Ernest Waterlow. In contrast, the New Zealand watercolours were by mostly contemporary or early twentieth century artists and included works by James Cook, Olivia Spencer Bower, Margaret Stoddart, Maude Sherwood, Eleanor Hughes and Alfred Walsh. The foundation Watercolour Collection included two paintings of larger than usual dimensions. William Lee Hankey's We've been in the Meadows all day (1184 x 878mm) and Charles N. Worsley's Mount Sefton (996 x 1105mm) are still greater in scale than any other work in the Watercolour Collection.