Indepth Arts News: |
23 Big Pictures"
2000-05-13 until 2000-08-13
NZ New Zealand (Aotearoa)
Lyttelton artist WD (Bill) Hammond spent the 1970s working in design and toy
manufacturing, returning to painting in 1981. He has since become one of New
Zealand's most intriguing and delightful artists.
Hammond's work tackles social and environmental issues, conveying messages
about humanity and its status as an endangered species. He first attracted
attention in the 1980s by depicting a regional landscape frayed with
neuroticism in which mutant humanoid figures struggle in an world where they
are somehow tied to the landscape but overwhelmed by the detritus of modern
urban living—televisions and sound equipment are recurring motifs in these
works. The noise aspect inherent in these frenetic pieces is emphasised by their
titles, which are often lines from the lyrics of rock songs, such as One for the
money, Two for the Show (Elvis Presley) or The Young Designers (The Fall).
In the 1990s, Hammond has looked back into New Zealand's environmental
history for his subject matter, drawing inspiration from the study and attitude of
Sir Walter Buller.
Buller was a prominent lawyer and ornithologist, whose studies of native birds
are still regarded as definitive today. He believed that the native people, plant and
birdlife would inevitably be rendered extinct by European colonists. Although he
was involved in campaigns to protect some species of bird, Buller did so
reluctantly and continued to collect specimens for his own research.
In paintings such as Waiting for Buller, Hammond moves away from mutated
forms and renders the birds in a painstaking, accurate manner reminiscent of
scientific illustrations. However, these relics of the past are seen in very
contemporary surroundings—they aren't waiting for Buller in their tranquil
bush habitat but rather propping up the bar at a seedy pub.
This exhibition of 23 of Hammond's most important works is initiated by the
Dunedin Public Art Gallery.