Ape to Zipp

By Tim Jones

Here are the works that appeared in the exhibition Ape to Zipp, with the labels used in that show, written by curator Ken Hall.

The exhibition ran from 13 May 2005 to 8 October 2006.


E. Mervyn Taylor Ape 1944

Orang-utans are hairy, orange apes. They live in the rainforests of Borneo and Sumatra and swing through trees and vines in great flying leaps. Tarzan got this idea from orang-utans!

Large Kitchen Composition

Michael Smither Large Kitchen Composition 1965

Holding her spoon like a rattle, baby Sarah takes another mouthful. Sarah is Michael Smither's daughter. The cat really looks like it wants a cat door ...
There are lots of B words in this painting. How many can you find? Five is good … ten or more is amazing!
baked beans, baby, breakfast, bib, bowl, book, box, bench, blonde, boiled egg, broken egg, black cat, (and quite a few blue things).

Boy on a donkey

Roland Frederick Martin Boy on a donkey 1951

a silly alphabet poem
animal, boy, carrots dangling,
encouraging forward:
“giddyup horsey!”
it jolts,
keeps lurching,
moving now
(“oh please! quicker!”)
restless sitter thinks:
“undersized vegetables
won't 'xcite your zebra!”

Spoerri’s Table

Michael Dell Spoerri’s Table 1993

D also stands for difficult and detailed drawing! But what about dinner? Was it a disaster? Now it looks a bit disgusting …
This drawing was made with charcoal, or burnt sticks of wood. How many burnt matchsticks can you find in this drawing?

It's time to pack up the circus and to get ready for the next town. The elephant helps by pulling a heavy wagon out through the open tent door.
Olivia Spencer-Bower loved everything about the circus, and went back many times with her sketchbook and watercolours when it came to Christchurch in the early 1940s.
Q: How can you tell if there's an elephant under your bed?
A: Your nose is touching the ceiling!

In the Orchard [also known as Sunlight through the Leaves]

Lucy Kemp-Welch In the Orchard [also known as Sunlight through the Leaves] 1904-1905

Lucy Kemp-Welch did this oil painting of a horse and its foal in the English village where she lived. She always loved drawing horses, even when she was a little girl, and became the most famous horse painter of her day. She also did paintings for a popular version of the book Black Beauty by Anna Sewell.

Joy of Art

Peter Lange Joy of Art 1988

Concrete, metal, a sponge, a book, a cake of soap… all made from clay???!!! Smiling quietly about this joke is the famous Mona Lisa, by the famous Italian artist Leonardo da Vinci.
When this artwork was being made, Peter Lange's brother, David Lange, had the (serious!) job of Prime Minister.

Grapes and Lilies

Louise Henderson Grapes and Lilies Jan 1955

Louise Henderson painted this in an abstract style. That means instead of making it look real, she wanted to make an interesting arrangement of colours and shapes.
The grapes in a basket are easy to find, but what else can you see?
Q: What do a grape and an elephant have in common?
A: They're both purple, except for the elephant!


Eileen Mayo Kākāpō 1976

This painting was made for a set of Gregg's Jelly cards, 'Rare and Endangered Birds of New Zealand'. 35 cards were collected in an album, encouraging young New Zealanders to appreciate our precious bird life.

How many of these birds' names did you already know? Two of them also live on $1 and $2 coins!

Driveway Painting No.10

Nigel Brown Driveway Painting No.10 1974

Climbing the driveway to their house on the hill, the man brings in the milk while his doggy helper carries the paper home …
This is Nigel Brown's driveway. He used it in a group of paintings, each one telling a slightly different story.


Glenda Randerson Interior 1976

It almost feels as if you could walk right inside this painting. It looks like a real house, but it's very tidy! Do you think the man and his dog's house looks like this?
There's a group of still-life objects on the table, and another word starting with ‘i'…


Take heart

Ruth Watson Take heart 1999

This giant gold heart is also an upside-down map of the world, with New Zealand at the top! It has all been made from chocolate wrapping paper.
Who thinks the artist likes chocolate?
And here's history: a heart-shaped world map was first thought of exactly 500 years ago by a really inventive man called Johann Werner.

Seven days

James Cousins Seven days 2000

This landscape painting feels like a journey by car or train. The views flash by really fast, but it feels like a long way!
Are we there yet? Are we there yet?

Tomoe Gozen pulling the ear of Nagase Hangan in the presence of Tezuka Taro Mitsumori, Kiso Yoshinaka and Yamabuki Gozen

Utagawa Kuniyoshi Tomoe Gozen pulling the ear of Nagase Hangan in the presence of Tezuka Taro Mitsumori, Kiso Yoshinaka and Yamabuki Gozen c. 1843

These woodblock prints show a painful scene from a kabuki play based on The Tale of the Heike, a famous book about Japanese clans who were fighting each other a long time ago.
The ear puller is Tomoe Gozen, a 12th century female samurai warrior who was known for her great beauty and extraordinary strength.

Three Veterans

Trevor Lloyd Three Veterans  

Nikau are the only palm trees native to New Zealand. They are loved by tui and kereru (wood pigeons) for their juicy red berries. Nikau can live for up to several hundred years.
Nikau can grow taller than the ceiling of the gallery entrance!

Canterbury Garden Bird

Don Binney Canterbury Garden Bird 1970

Piwakawaka says
of the Monkey-puzzle tree:
“It would puzzle a monkey,
but it's easy for me!”

A Difference

Charles Murray Padday A Difference 1908

Charles Padday lived by the sea in England. Maybe he wished he was a pirate. As well as illustrating adventure books, every year he made large paintings of pirates for a big exhibition in London.
Q: What is a pirate's favourite letter of the alphabet?
A: Arrrr…
Q: Why does a pirate's phone go beep beep beep?
A: Because he left it off the hook!

Elsie Maud White Queen Elizabeth I / [after 'The Ditchley portrait' by Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger] c. 1953

This tiny painting is of Queen Elizabeth 1, who lived in England over 400 years ago. It was copied from an enormous portrait of this queen that was painted around 1592 by one of the leading portrait artists of those days.
The pirates would like these lovely jewels!

Boats at Pukekura Park

Michael Smither Boats at Pukekura Park 1967-1973

R is for…
red rowboats resting
and rippling reflections
with rows and rows of rectangles
changing their directions.

St Brendan and the Sea Monsters

Robert Gibbings St Brendan and the Sea Monsters 1934

S is for…
swirling sea serpents
and stingrays and sharks
and strange spotty swimmers
who smile in the dark.
Which sea monster do you like the best?


Juliet Peter Unicorns 1939

Unicorns are usually white, but sometimes they are black. There are a lot of legends about unicorns but nobody knows for sure that they were real. Their spiral horns were supposed to carry magical healing powers.

Elongated Triangles 4

Bridget Riley Elongated Triangles 4 1971

Vertical means standing straight up, like a lamppost or a tree trunk. Bridget Riley is famous for making paintings full of stripes and bright colours that are quite hard to look at!
How many vertical Vs can you see?

Were Wolf Jug

Yvonne Rust Were Wolf Jug  

The werewolf is a horrible, nasty creature – a kind of made-up person who can change into a wolf to frighten people. This one must be still practising, because it's not very scary – and so far it has only managed to turn into a jug.


Frances Hodgkins Zipp 1945

Frances Hodgkins was born in New Zealand and became famous for her paintings in Europe. During wartime in England, some of her things were stolen. She remembered those things by putting them into this wonderful painting.
Can you find a zip, a belt, and some shoes …? Other things here might be harder to recognise.

Murals (Waikari)

Bill Sutton Murals (Waikari) 1951

This painting shows some of the oldest drawings in New Zealand. They were made by early Maori hundreds of years ago at a rock shelter near Waikari, north of Christchurch.
Beneath the rock is a carpet of dry, yellow tussock grass. This plant is a xerophyte. That means it doesn't need much water.
Now there's a good word to know!

"Lines may be employed"

Stephen Bambury "Lines may be employed" 1991

The yellow parts of this painting are bright and shining like beeswax or honey. The darker parts are like the surface of a rock.
Is this two yellow crosses or six black squares?