Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Landscapes at Christchurch Art Gallery, New Zealand

John Gibb Clearing up after rain, foot of Otira Gorge 1887.
Oil on canvas.
Collection of Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu, purchased 1964.
About 4 kilometres south of Otira, in the Southern Alps, is the Otira Gorge, the original staging place for coach traffic in the earlier days of transport between Canterbury and Westland via Arthur's Pass. The hotel in Otira, seen in this work, was washed away when the Otira River flooded in 1886.

Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu in New Zealand has an exhibition of works in the pastoral tradition called An Idyllic Country: Pastoral Landscapes from the Collection. This is a collection of paintings, watercolours and prints portraying romanticised visions of the countryside will go on view at Christchurch Art Gallery this month.
The pastoral tradition in art is the idealised portrayal of country life, often idyllic views of a tamed countryside inhabited by shepherds and livestock. An Idyllic Country brings together a collection of paintings, watercolours and prints spanning several centuries, and includes works by seventeenth-century Dutch artist Danker Danckerts, British artists Joseph Mallord William Turner, John Arnesby Brown and Gwendolin Raverat and New Zealanders John Gibb, Evelyn Page and John Weeks.
Christchurch Art Gallery’s collection has traditionally been very strong on pastoral views of the rural landscape. Many of the works on display were created to offer a respite from the urban chaos of city life; they offer a place to escape, to relax and reflect. An Idyllic Country offers visitors to the Gallery the opportunity to enjoy both modern and contemporary takes on the traditional country landscapes.
Jenny Harper, Gallery Director
The Gallery has chosen to provide a striking contrast for these idealised portrayals of country life and tranquil landscapes by including work by Barry Cleavin and Bing Dawe that comment on modern intensive farming methods and the abattoir as the inevitable fate for livestock.

The exhibition opened on 15 May and continues until 8 August 2010.

The Christchurch Gallery Collection

For me, when I looked at the Gallery's website, what was more interesting was the online database of images in the permanent collection - a number of which relate to the landscapes of New Zealand and are by artists who were born or lived in New Zealand. You can see two of these by John Gibb at the top and bottom of this post.

One of the things that the gallery also does is provide excellent information sheets about various works. This link to New Zealand landscape art includes infosheets such as
When i interrogated the collection database I found that some of the landscapes came up with a map reference - which identified the location of the painting on the map which I found very impressive!

These are the locations for the two paintings in this post

John Gibb Shades Of Evening, The Estuary 1880.
Oil on canvas.
Collection of Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu, presented by the Canterbury Society of Arts, 1932.This view of Christchurch’s Avon / Heathcote Estuary, known to Mâori as the Opawaho / OtakaroEstuary, looks west towards the foothills of the Southern Alps. A much more settled landscape today, in 1880 John Gibb shows only a small limp red flag and a derelict rowboat as signs of human activity.

This is how the gallery describes John Gibb
When the painter John Gibb arrived in Christchurch from Scotland, in 1876, he had already more than quarter of a century's activity in Britain as an artist and exhibitor. Early in his life, Gibb had shown a natural aptitude for drawing and painting that was encouraged by his family. By 1849 he was receiving tuition in the studio of John Mackenzie of Greenock, and the Clyde River and the environs of the Firth of Clyde were the focus of Gibb's paintings during the 1850s, 60s and early 70s. A traditionalist, Gibb aligned himself with the picturesque style akin to such artists as Sam Bough, Joseph Farquarson, Alfred de Breanski Snr. and John Harvey Oswald. He followed the academic practice of sketching the landscape and gathering information which was later worked up in the studio with intense attention to detail. In later years, as a keen photographer, he regularly used his half-plate camera to good effect as an aide memoire. Within three months of his arrival in Christchurch, Gibb held the first showing of his work and began making painting excursions around the South Island. As there was no art society in Christchurch, he exhibited at the Otago Society of Art Exhibitions in Dunedin from 1878 on. When the Canterbury Society of Arts was formed in 1880, Gibb was a foundation member and exhibited hundreds of works with the Society until his death in 1909. He also showed in Auckland and Wellington from the early 1880s and sent works to all the international and inter-colonial exhibitions beyond New Zealand. In the 1880s Gibb was regarded as New Zealand's major professional marine painter, a specialisation that enabled him to exercise his fascination with detail and which led to many private commissions in New Zealand and Australia.


1 comment:

Katherine Kean said...

I love the paintings that you've picked out to post. They look both beautiful and timeless.

How cool that you could find the map locations - that access really adds another dimension to the experience.


Related Posts with Thumbnails