John Gibb - Lyttelton Harbour, N.Z. Inside the breakwater

Rugby player and coach Robbie Deans describes his first encounter with John Gibb's painting of Lyttelton.

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Exhibition
John Gibb

John Gibb

A selection of Canterbury landscape paintings by Victorian artist John Gibb.

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
Flood in Otira Gorge by John Gibb

Flood in Otira Gorge by John Gibb

This article first appeared as 'Stormy weather' in The Press on 26 April 2013.

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.

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)
Collection
Shades Of Evening, the Estuary
John Gibb Shades Of Evening, the Estuary
This painting was the first work bought for Christchurch's civic art collection, purchased in 1881 by the Canterbury Society of Arts from its inaugural annual exhibition and then given to the Gallery in 1932. Gibb loved sunsets; according to one family member he would drop whatever he was doing in the evening to watch and study the setting sun. His pleasure in the atmospheric effects of evening light is apparent here, as the last rays of the setting sun create an intense orange glow reflected on the clouds. The view takes in the estuary, also known as Te Wahapū, of Christchurch’s Avon (Ōtākaro) and Heathcote (Ōpāwaho) rivers, looking west towards the foothills of the Southern Alps. (John Gibb, 18 December 2015 – 28 August 2016)
Collection
From the Foot of the Hills
John Gibb From the Foot of the Hills
Gibb's view of the Canterbury Plains from the foot of Christchurch's Port Hills highlights the agricultural potential of this vast, flat expanse. The plains are also known as Kā Pākihi Whakatekateka a Waitaha, which translates from Māori as the seedbed of Waitaha (the region's early inhabitants). The region was a bountiful food source for the people of Ngāi Tahu, providing just as it does today. The cows standing in the middle of the gentle Heathcote / Ōpāwaho river in this painting provide a reminder, however, that this land needs to be respected if future generations are to continue to benefit from what Kā Pākihi Whakatekateka a Waitaha has to offer. (John Gibb, 18 December 2015 – 28 August 2016)
Collection
Lyttelton Harbour, N.Z. Inside the Breakwater
John Gibb Lyttelton Harbour, N.Z. Inside the Breakwater
Gibb loved painting shipping scenes, revelling especially in the detail of rigging and sails. He was regarded as one of New Zealand's most successful maritime painters during his lifetime. This work was painted just thirty-six years after the arrival from England of the Canterbury Association settlers in 1850, and it is remarkable just how quickly the Port of Lyttelton grew. Lyttelton was built on the site of an ancient pā (fortified village) called Ōhinehou, and the bay altered dramatically with the arrival of European settlers: land was reclaimed, and breakwaters and wharves were built allowing ever- greater numbers of vessels to use the port. The rail tunnel through the Port Hills was opened in 1867, providing a direct link with the rapidly developing city of Christchurch. This painting served to promote the Canterbury Province as progressive, industrious and economically successful, with the Port of Lyttelton playing a central role in this success. In this light, it’s not surprising that the painting was first shown at the Colonial and Indian Exhibition at the Royal Albert Hall in London in 1886, where it would have served well in promoting the prosperity of the Canterbury Province to an international audience. (John Gibb, 18 December 2015 – 28 August 2016)
Collection
Bottle Lake
John Gibb Bottle Lake
Bottle Lake used to be part of the Waitikiri swamplands that lay to the north-east of Christchurch. Before the land around the lake was purchased by English settler Edward Reece, twenty years before Gibb painted this work, this was an important area for Ngāi Tahu, being rich with eels and other fish – as referenced by Gibb's inclusion of fishermen catching an eel. Much of Waitikiri was drained and turned over to pasture – and, more recently, housing for Christchurch's growing population. A visit to the nearby Travis Wetland Nature Heritage Park gives the visitor some idea of what Waitikiri would have been like in the nineteenth century. Gibb was commissioned to paint Bottle Lake by William Reece, the son of Edward Reece. It is thought that the view is taken from Reece's homestead, which was also named Waitikiri. (John Gibb, 18 December 2015 – 28 August 2016)