Exhibition

Van der Velden: Otira

11 February – 22 February 2011

This exhibition brings together a comprehensive selection of Van der Velden's paintings portraying the wild, untouched natural beauty of the Otira region's mountainous landscape.

This exhibition was originally scheduled to run from 11 February until 15 May 2011. Unfortunately its run was ended by the 22 February Christchurch earthquake. However, you can still buy the book.

Located in the heart of the Southern Alps, the wild, untouched natural splendour of the Otira Gorge has long been a source of inspiration for artists. This exhibition brings together for the first time a comprehensive selection of paintings and drawings representing Petrus van der Velden's intensely personal vision of Otira – some of the most powerful works to have been created in New Zealand. The exhibition also offers a unique opportunity to view a selection of works that respond to Otira and Van der Velden by artists as diverse as John Gibb, Alfred Walsh, Colin McCahon and Ann Shelton.

Exhibition number 864

Related

Article
Van der Velden: Otira

Van der Velden: Otira

A first encounter with a painting by Petrus van der Velden more than twenty years ago was the start of many years of research for Gallery curator Peter Vangioni. Peter is the lead author of the Gallery's new book on van der Velden, and talks here of his fascination with the artist's Otira works.

Collection
Jacksons, Otira
Petrus van der Velden Jacksons, Otira

Petrus van der Velden established a successful reputation as a painter in the Hague during the 1870s and 1880s. It therefore is astounding that he gave his career away in 1890 and sailed with his family halfway round the world to Christchurch. Holland’s loss was New Zealand’s gain, however, and within a short time of his arrival van der Velden travelled to the mountainous Otira region, where he painted some of the most important works of his career. He was captivated by the untouched beauty and ruggedness of a landscape that was so inherently different to what he had known in Holland. He began producing a series of paintings based on a mountain stream at Otira and on his second visit to the region in 1893 painted this small creek at Jacksons just to the west of Otira.

(March 2018)

Collection
Otira
Albert James Rae Otira

Timaru printmaker Albert Rae was one of the few New Zealand artists to work with the mezzotint medium. Although notoriously difficult to master, the mezzotint offers rich rewards to artists who overcome its technical obstacles. In these two works, Rae uses the soft tonal variations inherent in the medium to create sublime, gloomy visions of a mountain stream at the Otira Gorge. These prints, where water tumbles relentlessly over the scattered rocks of the stream bed, are in their small way a modest homage to van der Velden’s monumental paintings. (Van der Velden: Otira, February 2010)

Collection
Otira Gorge
Albert James Rae Otira Gorge

Timaru printmaker Albert Rae was one of the few New Zealand artists to work with the mezzotint medium. Although notoriously difficult to master, the mezzotint offers rich rewards to artists who overcome its technical obstacles. In these two works, Rae uses the soft tonal variations inherent in the medium to create sublime, gloomy visions of a mountain stream at the Otira Gorge. These prints, where water tumbles relentlessly over the scattered rocks of the stream bed, are in their small way a modest homage to van der Velden’s monumental paintings. (Van der Velden: Otira, February 2010)

Collection
Summertime, Arthur’s Pass
Grace Butler Summertime, Arthur’s Pass

'Arthur’s Pass is a special birding area because of the preponderance of southern rātā [a forest tree with bright red flowers]. The nectar from the rātā was particularly attractive to kākā not just kea [two species of native parrots], so for hunting kākā it was a major zone. At Christmas the western side of the pass, as you’re dropping down into Otira, is often full of brilliant red rātā blossoms. It was a big mahika kai [food gathering area] up to the head of the valley towards Otira, although the route across was not a regular nor a favoured route. It was regarded as a possible route, and the rakatira [chief] Tarapuhi gave that information to Dobson [Sir Arthur Dudley Dobson, a pioneer surveyor who came to New Zealand in 1850 and took the first Europeans over Arthur’s Pass] but even then they had to develop the whole corkscrew thing [the switchback road winding down steep scree slopes] to get carriages across it – on foot it was pretty difficult. That difficulty has been overcome by the new viaduct.' —Sir Tipene O’Regan

(He Rau Maharataka Whenua: A Memory of Land, 17 September 2016 – 18 February 2017)

Collection
Mountain Stream
John Weeks Mountain Stream

The precise location of the mountain stream painted by John Weeks is unknown, but the motif he has chosen to work with has a clear connection to van der Velden’s Otira series. Like van der Velden, Weeks depicts the rushing waters of a stream emerging from dense bush and flowing over and around rocks as it makes its way down the mountain slope. In his use of loose, expressive brushwork we can also see a stylistic parallel with van der Velden’s masterpiece A waterfall in the Otira Gorge and his treatment of flowing water. (Van der Velden: Otira, February 2011)

Collection
Self Portrait with Otira background
Petrus van der Velden Self Portrait with Otira background

Van der Velden: Otira, 11-22 February 2011

In this charcoal self-portait, completed just three weeks before his death, van der Velden remains emotionally in tune with the region and his earlier experiences as he pays modest homage to his Otira series. The artist portrays himself, paintbrushes in hand, standing in front of his 1912 painting Otira Gorge, proclaiming to the world the importance of his Otira paintings to him as an artist.

Collection
Mountain Stream, Otira Gorge
Petrus van der Velden Mountain Stream, Otira Gorge

Quadrant: Four themes of Petrus van der Velden, 20 October 2006 – 25 March 2007

This squared-up tracing drawing of the Otira Gorge provided important steps for Van der Velden to complete his large oil paintings of the same subject. Often, he would take these tracings from original sketches and square them up in preparation for transferring the image to a large canvas. This allowed him to keep the correct scale and proportions in the finished work.

This tracing drawing relates to the large oil painting of the same name.

Collection
Mount Rolleston and the Otira River
Petrus van der Velden Mount Rolleston and the Otira River

Van der Velden described his first visit to the Otira Gorge: 'For the first three days I did nothing at all but just looked, it took my breath away.'

The lines between religion and art were blurred for van der Velden, and he often drew similarities between the two: 'There is as much nonsense talked about art as Jesus and because it's the same business nothing is understood. Tell the people sometime that Rembrandt and Jesus have the same meaning; how they would laugh, and yet it is true – Rembrandt made a study of light during his life, and Jesus did nothing else.'

(McCahon / Van der Velden, 18 December 2015 – 7 August 2016)

Collection
Mountain Stream Otira Gorge
Petrus van der Velden Mountain Stream Otira Gorge

Van der Velden: Otira, 11 February – 22 February 2011

This squared-up tracing drawing relates specifically to the large oil painting Otira Gorge seen on the next wall. It provides a fascinating insight into the process by which van der Velden created his large paintings on canvas. Tracings such as this would be taken from original sketches, and then squared up in preparation for the transfer of the image to a large canvas. This process allowed the artist to maintain the correct scale and proportions in the finished work.

Collection
An Otira Stream (also known as Mountain Rata)
Margaret Stoddart An Otira Stream (also known as Mountain Rata)

Margaret Stoddart first made the trip along the West Coast Road over Arthur’s Pass and through the Otira Gorge in April 1896, travelling in a hired wagon with several companions. Around 1927 Stoddart completed several watercolours of the gorge including An Otira Stream (also known as Mountain rata). In this work the artist combines her interest in flower painting with landscape to complete a vibrant vision of southern rata in full bloom amongst the rugged Otira terrain. In the summer months of January and February the mountain slopes of the Otira Gorge come alive with the crimson flowers of southern rata.

Collection
Winter At Otira
Ronald James McKenzie Winter At Otira

Ronald McKenzie’s Winter at Otira captures the wonderland that the Otira Gorge becomes in the heart of winter, covered with a thick blanket of snow. The bright crimson bloom of the southern rata seen in Stoddart’s watercolour has given way to the more muted tones of the winter months. The road over Arthur’s Pass and through the Otira Gorge is regularly closed in winter as southerly storms make their way up the South Island, dumping snow on the Sothern Alps and often making the West Coast Road impassable. (Van der Velden: Otira, February 2010)

Collection
Clearing up after Rain, Foot of Otira Gorge
John Gibb Clearing up after Rain, Foot of Otira Gorge

The wild and rugged mountainous landscape of Otira has captivated visitors since the first road was cut through the gorge in the mid-1860s. Otira is the Māori place name for this region and translates as ‘the last rays of the sun’. It was a landscape that Gibb was drawn to, and he returned to paint it repeatedly throughout his career. An unforgiving place with high rainfall, rivers can rise suddenly and fill the gorge with the thundering noise of falling water. Gibb has painted the aftermath of one such storm in this work. The original Otira Hotel depicted in this painting was washed away when the Otira River flooded in 1886. (John Gibb, 18 December 2015 – 28 August 2016)

Notes
Summertime, Arthurs Pass

Summertime, Arthurs Pass

I recently found myself walking through a scene straight out of Grace Butler's 1946 oil painting.

Notes
International Book Day

International Book Day

I was lucky enough to recently acquire my own copy of one my favourite books, Rodney Wilson's two-volume, case bound Catalogue Raisonne of Petrus van der Velden.

Notes
Quake brain, van der Velden-style

Quake brain, van der Velden-style

As might be expected, the Gallery's collection is primarily made up of complete works; prepared, resolved and sent on their way, as ready as they'll ever be for public exposure.

Notes
Across the Main Divide

Across the Main Divide

One of the great benefits of living in Christchurch, especially post February 2011, is the amazing alpine playground that lies within easy reach of the city – the mighty Southern Alps.

Notes
Up and down and up again

Up and down and up again

While scenes like this – the full-scale Civil Defence occupation of our gallery spaces - are thankfully a distant memory now, this photo does remind me of how disappointing it was to see some excellent shows cut short barely a couple of weeks into their run in February last year.

Notes
Van der Velden vs McCahon

Van der Velden vs McCahon

Van der Velden is leaving the building.

Notes
Space for reflection

Space for reflection

This week saw us begin the return of Petrus van der Velden's Otira paintings and drawings to public and private collections throughout New Zealand.

Notes
The next best thing

The next best thing

We had three great exhibitions on display in February. De-Building, Van der Velden: Otira and Leo Bensemann: A Fantastic Art Venture all opened within three weeks of the earthquake, and all three had their runs cut very short.

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
The Valley of Darkness

The Valley of Darkness

In preparation for the Gallery's forthcoming exhibition and publication, Gallery photographer John Collie is busily photographing Petrus Van der Velden works.

Notes
Cleaning Jacksons

Cleaning Jacksons

Gallery conservator Edward Sakowski describes several years work making Petrus van der Velden's painting Jacksons, Otira ready for exhibition. The painting was purchased at auction in London.

This procedure was also described in issue 157 of Bulletin.

Notes
The Satara Player by Petrus van der Velden

The Satara Player by Petrus van der Velden

Things are not always what they seem. What looks like the result of an artistic foray into exotic lands is, in fact, an 1894 portrait of a Christchurch busker who posed in the studio of Petrus van der Velden.

Exhibition
From the Sun Deck: McCahon’s Titirangi

From the Sun Deck: McCahon’s Titirangi

Colin McCahon’s shift to Titirangi in 1953 was a watershed moment in the artist’s career, providing the inspiration for him to develop his interest in cubism and abstraction.

Commentary
To Colin McCahon

To Colin McCahon

James K. Baxter’s 1952 poem ‘To Colin McCahon’ is an important marker in the long and sometimes tempestuous artistic relationship the two men shared. On an immediate level, the poem is a response to McCahon’s painting There is only one direction (1952), which he presented to Jim and Jacquie Baxter to mark the birth of their daughter Hilary after they had named McCahon her godfather.

Exhibition
McCahon / Van der Velden

McCahon / Van der Velden

An exhibition of two of New Zealand's most respected painters.

Notes
Canterbury Landscape by Colin McCahon

Canterbury Landscape by Colin McCahon

In 2014 we purchased an important landscape work by Colin McCahon. Curator Peter Vangioni speaks about this new addition to Christchurch Art Gallery’s collection.

Notes
‘Where the picture stops and the world begins’

‘Where the picture stops and the world begins’

The way a work of art is framed affects our perception of the piece. A bad frame can detract and distract, a good frame enhances and even extends a work. While the Gallery has been closed we have updated frames for a number of works in the collection.

Notes
Kauri tree landscape by Colin McCahon

Kauri tree landscape by Colin McCahon

This article first appeared as 'Mighty kauris inspired McCahon' in The Press on 10 February 2015.

Notes
as there is a constant flow of light

as there is a constant flow of light

On a recent printer's residency at the Otago University's Otakou Press Colin McCahon's huge mural painting Waterfall Theme and variations dominated proceedings.

Collection
Kauri tree landscape
Colin McCahon Kauri tree landscape

In 1958 poet and arts patron Charles Brasch, a great supporter of McCahon, said of the Titirangi works: 'These Auckland paintings seem an entirely new departure. The colour and light of Auckland are different from those of the rest of New Zealand; they are more atmospheric, they seem to have an independent, airy existence of their own, and they break up the uniform mass of solid bodies, hills or forests or water, into a kind of brilliant prismatic dance. Some of the paintings are explorations, evocations, of the kauri forest of the Waitakeres. In some you seem to be inside the forest, discovering the structure of individual trees, with their great shaft trunks, their balloon-like cones, and the shafts of light that play among them. In others you look at the forest from outside, as it rises like a wall before you, built up of cylinders and cubes of lighter and darker colour, with its wild jagged outlines against the sky.'

(From the Sun Deck: McCahon’s Titirangi, 17 September 2016 – 6 February 2017)

Collection
Nor'western Sky
Petrus van der Velden Nor'western Sky

“‘Colour is light’ and there is no darkness at all – there is light or less light. In each part, even the darkest, there is some light and the difficulty is to get the different kinds of light showing in even quite small parts. There are no hard lines in nature – the light shines in and round everything and breaks all the hardness by modifying and diffusing the apparently sharp edges.” —Petrus van der Velden

(McCahon / Van der Velden, 18 December 2015 – 7 August 2016)

Notes
Light Passing Into a dark landscape

Light Passing Into a dark landscape

Today is the centennial of the death of one of New Zealand's most treasured artists, Petrus van der Velden.

Notes
There is only one direction by Colin McCahon

There is only one direction by Colin McCahon

This article appeared as 'Divine Innovation' in the The Press on 31 August 2012.

Notes
McCahon rocks

McCahon rocks

Oh yes he does.

Collection
There is only one direction
Colin McCahon There is only one direction

This pared back, strikingly modern Madonna and child was painted in the Christchurch suburb of Phillipstown where Colin McCahon, perhaps New Zealand’s most acclaimed twentieth-century artist, lived with his family between 1948 and 1953. In contrast to the typically grander, often lavish treatment of this traditional subject within art history, McCahon’s composition is personal and startlingly bare, reduced to two naked figures framed within a rough oval that emphasises their close and enduring connection. Without haloes, thrones or attending angels, their identity is alluded to only through their grave sense of purpose and the work’s uncompromising title.

McCahon gave There is only one direction to the renowned writer James K. Baxter and his wife Jacqueline, marking the friendship between the two families and McCahon’s position as godfather to their young daughter Hilary. The painting sat above Baxter’s writing desk for many years.

(Unseen: The Changing Collection, 18 December 2015 – 19 June 2016)

Notes
As there is a constant flow of light we are born into the pure land

As there is a constant flow of light we are born into the pure land

After many, many months in the 'Darkness' of the empty gallery, I can think of no better words than those of Colin McCahon to signify the opening of the new gallery shop at 40 Lichfield Street.

Drop in Mon-Fri 10am-5pm, 10am-4pm Weekends

See you all soon!

Notes
O'Reilly/McCahon: an Easter meditation

O'Reilly/McCahon: an Easter meditation

An Easter-themed excerpt from an article published in 2010 in The Journal of New Zealand Art History...

Notes
Sutton high-fives McCahon

Sutton high-fives McCahon

Nothing made it into a W.A. Sutton painting by accident, and the white line that rises diagonally through the sky in Plantation Series II is no exception.

Article
Gazumped

Gazumped

One of the exhibitions brought to a halt by the 22 February earthquake was De-Building, which critic Warren Feeney had described only days earlier as 'Christchurch Art Gallery's finest group show since it opened in 2003'. Seven months on, the show's curator, Justin Paton, reflects on random destruction, strange echoes, critical distance, and the 'gazumping of art by life'.

Interview
Otira: it's a state of mind

Otira: it's a state of mind

A short road trip to the Otira Gorge was the scene for a conversation between Gallery curator Peter Vangioni and two of the artists included in Van der Velden: Otira, Jason Greig and the Torlesse Supergroup's Roy Montgomery.

Exhibition
Coming Home in the Dark

Coming Home in the Dark

Fourteen artists with connections to the Mainland are represented in an exhibition that explores the dark underbelly of the region's genteel appearance.

Exhibition
Colin McCahon

Colin McCahon

Two decades after Colin McCahon's death, this touring focus exhibition brings together paintings and works on paper by one of the most widely acclaimed New Zealand artists.

Collection
As there is a constant flow of light we are born into the pure land
Colin McCahon As there is a constant flow of light we are born into the pure land

‘As there is a constant flow of light we are born into the pure land.’ Colin McCahon quoted this text often on works between the mid-1960s and early 1970s: he took it from the writings of a twelfth-century Japanese Buddhist monk, Shinran, who was the founder of a tradition known as Pure Land Buddhism. McCahon had long been interested in light as a metaphor both for faith and enlightenment, and had begun a related series of dramatic semi-abstract waterfall paintings in 1964, in which a curve of white light cleaved through darkness. Here the landscape element has been reduced to a simple horizon, a dividing line between sky and sea, or sky and land, at the very edge of vision. (March 2018)

Collection
Light falling through a dark landscape (A)
Colin McCahon Light falling through a dark landscape (A)

For the exhibition Untitled #1050 (25 November 2017 – 14 October 2018) this work was displayed with the following label:

“As a painter I may often be more worried about you than you are about me and if I wasn’t concerned I’d not be doing my work properly as a painter. Painting can be a potent way of talking.

“Do you believe in the sunrise?

“My painting year happens first in late winter and early spring. I paint with the season and paint best during the long hot summers. I prefer to paint at night or more especially in the late summer afternoons when, as the light fades, tonal relationships become terrifyingly clear.

“At night I paint under a very large incandescent light bulb. I’ve been doing this for a long time. I am only now, and slowly, becoming able to paint in the morning. After a lifetime of working – farming, factories, gardening, teaching, the years at the Auckland City Art Gallery – I find it hard to paint in the world’s usual work-time. It can be difficult to accept that painting too is work.”

—Colin McCahon, 1972

Collection
Burial in the winter on the island of Marken [The Dutch Funeral]
Petrus van der Velden Burial in the winter on the island of Marken [The Dutch Funeral]

Research for the exhibition Closer (16 December 2017 – 19 August 2018) resulted in the restoration of this work's orginal title. In Dutch 'Begrafenis in den winter op het eiland Marken' and in English 'Burial in the winter on the island of Marken'.


One of Petrus van der Velden’s most significant paintings, Burial in the winter on the island of Marken arrived in Christchurch several years before the artist. It was brought to New Zealand by Gerritt van Asch, the pioneering educator for the hearing impaired, who had purchased it from van der Velden in Holland sometime before 1879. Van der Velden himself arrived in Christchurch, sponsored by van Asch, in mid 1890 and made an immediate impact on New Zealand art circles of the time. His genre paintings like this one were widely appreciated by the public and the press often described him in glowing terms as a “distinguished Dutch artist”. Holland’s loss was New Zealand’s gain and van der Velden went on to paint one of New Zealand’s most significant bodies of paintings, his famous Otira series, from the late nineteenth century.

(New Dawn Fades, November 2018)

Collection
Tomorrow will be the same but not as this is
Colin McCahon Tomorrow will be the same but not as this is

In April 1958 Colin McCahon travelled to the US, responding both to the expansiveness of the American landscape and to the modern American painting that he saw in museums. On his return, his works increased in scale while economising in gesture: the landscape elements of Tomorrow have been reduced to a horizon and lowering sky, with the land bisected by a grey river. He converted his Titirangi garage into a studio, and built an extra bedroom for his children underneath. The studio was gloomy – there was only one small side window for light when the garage door was closed – but it precipitated dozens of new works. Tomorrow was an unfortunate painting, said McCahon, ‘in that it wouldn’t go right, and I got madder and madder. I hurled a whole lovely quart tin of black Dulux at the board and reconstructed the painting out of the mess.’ The black paint (a commercial flooring paint, mixed with sand) dripped down the surface of the work and ran between wide cracks in the studio floorboards, ruining clothes and bed linen in his sons’ room below. He finally finished the painting in May 1959.

(March 2018)

Collection
Van Gogh: Poems by John Caselberg
Colin McCahon Van Gogh: Poems by John Caselberg

Vincent van Gogh was an artist with whom McCahon strongly identified. He produced this suite of lithographs based on several poems about the troubled Dutch artist written by his close friend John Caselberg.

As an aside, van Gogh had met van der Velden in Holland on several occasions, and in 1883 wrote to his brother Theo of his admiration for the artist:

I met Van der V. once, and he made a good impression on me at the time. I was reminded of the character of Felix Holt [the main character in George Eliot's novel Felix Holt, The Radical, who favoured a life of working class poverty over the comforts afforded through the wealth within his reach]. There’s something broad and rough in him that pleases me greatly – something like the roughness of torchon [a rough-surfaced paper]. A man who evidently doesn’t seek civilization in outward things but is much further inwardly, much, much further than most people. In short, he’s a true artist, and I’d like to get to know him for I would trust him and I’m sure I would learn from him.

(McCahon / Van der Velden, 18 December 2015 – 7 August 2016)

Collection
Windmill by Moonlight
Petrus van der Velden Windmill by Moonlight

“The greatest of all lessons is to learn to see. Many are ‘colour blind’ till they have their eyes opened to nature’s lessons, which she is always trying to teach us. But we must always tell what nature says to us, simply and directly without pretence or falsehood. Tell the Truth. Christ was the greatest artist. His words and pictures are a simple telling of nature's lessons – they are always the Truth. ‘We reason with colours. Colours are dead’, but by telling what nature teaches us the dead colours enable us to express the wonders and beauties of the Creator’s work.”

—Petrus van der Velden

(McCahon / Van der Velden, 18 December 2015 – 7 August 2016)

Collection
Atmospheric Study, Sumner
Petrus van der Velden Atmospheric Study, Sumner

Petrus van der Velden valued the medium of drawing as highly as painting and was an extremely talented draughtsman. Spontaneously drawn outdoors directly before the subject, this small study shows Van der Velden’s interest in depicting dramatic, stormy atmospheric conditions with strong contrasts of light and dark. In the early 1890s, van der Velden and his family settled in Sumner, Christchurch where they stayed with the Van Asch family. Van der Velden immediately went about sketching in the region, and by the end of the year he had completed several major paintings based on Sumner scenes. Born in Rotterdam, van der Velden established himself as a painter, particularly of marine subjects, before he and his wife emigrated from Holland in 1890. He struggled to make a living in Christchurch, however, and moved to Sydney in 1898. He returned to settle in Wellington in 1904 and died in Auckland.

Collection
Kauri tree landscape
Colin McCahon Kauri tree landscape

In 1958 poet and arts patron Charles Brasch, a great supporter of McCahon, said of the Titirangi works: 'These Auckland paintings seem an entirely new departure. The colour and light of Auckland are different from those of the rest of New Zealand; they are more atmospheric, they seem to have an independent, airy existence of their own, and they break up the uniform mass of solid bodies, hills or forests or water, into a kind of brilliant prismatic dance. Some of the paintings are explorations, evocations, of the kauri forest of the Waitakeres. In some you seem to be inside the forest, discovering the structure of individual trees, with their great shaft trunks, their balloon-like cones, and the shafts of light that play among them. In others you look at the forest from outside, as it rises like a wall before you, built up of cylinders and cubes of lighter and darker colour, with its wild jagged outlines against the sky.' (From the Sun Deck: McCahon’s Titirangi, 17 September 2016 – 6 February 2017)

Collection
Blind V
Colin McCahon Blind V

The word ‘blind’ refers to a screen that cuts out light, but Colin McCahon also uses it to refer to an absence of vision. Questions of faith were important to McCahon and he often used references to blindness to suggest the inability to see the real essence and value of things. McCahon’s style was highly personal and distinctive. Blind V is part of a series of five works painted onto window blinds. The abstract forms have the feel of a beach and sky and it has been suggested that the ‘blindness’ which McCahon refers to was the inability of New Zealanders to really see and appreciate their own unique environment.

McCahon is regarded by many as New Zealand’s greatest contemporary artist. Born in Timaru, he studied art in Dunedin. He lived in Christchurch for a time, became keeper and assistant director at Auckland Art Gallery, then lecturer in painting at the Elam School of Fine Arts, University of Auckland, before taking up painting full time in 1970.

Collection
Red and black landscape
Colin McCahon Red and black landscape

For the exhibition I See Red (5 December 2007 - 23 November 2008) this work was displayed with the following label: Colin McCahon’s combination of sky, sea and land is the simplest of landscapes, but by using powerful red and black, he has created a painting filled with mystery and weight.

‘Red sky at morning, shepherd’s warning, Red sky at night, shepherd’s delight’ goes the old saying. This could be sunset or sunrise, a perfect day to come or a perfect storm. Which would you choose?

Collection
Sumner
Petrus van der Velden Sumner

“Colour is light, light is love and love is God and therefore on Sundays instead of going to church I teach my children drawing after nature. I have come to the conclusion that painting or drawing after nature, instead of being a luxury is the most necessary for the education of man. […] The aim of our existence is nothing else than to study nature and with so doing to understand more and more how grand and pure nature is and gives evidence of so much love.”

—Petrus van der Velden

(McCahon / Van der Velden, 18 December 2015 – 7 August 2016)

Collection
Northland drawings
Colin McCahon Northland drawings

“Once more it states my interest in landscape as a symbol of place and also of the human condition. It is not so much a portrait of a place as such but is a memory of a time and an experience of a particular place.” —Colin McCahon

(McCahon / Van der Velden, 18 December 2015 – 7 August 2016)

Collection
Nor’western Sky
Petrus van der Velden Nor’western Sky

The hot, dry nor'west winds of Canterbury produce dramatic cloud formations and an atmospheric light. Petrus van der Velden has captured these effects with what is probably Christchurch's River Avon in the foreground. He lived near the river between 1890 and 1893. The colonial woman bent over, occupied with her task of work, has echoes of his earlier Dutch paintings, which focused on Dutch peasants at work. Van der Velden painted in a realist manner, which was influenced by his association with the Dutch Hague School of painters who favoured dark sombre tones and a loose style of brushwork. The nor'west scene is created by using strong contrasts of light and shade (chiaroscuro). Born in Rotterdam, Van der Velden established himself as a painter, particularly of marine subjects, in Holland, from where he emigrated in 1890. However, he struggled to make a living in Christchurch and in 1898 went to Sydney. He returned to settle in Wellington in 1904 but died in Auckland.