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Christine Hellyar: Looking, Seeing, Thinking

26 Aug 2017 - 05 Nov 2017

  • Christine Hellyar: Looking XII, 2017
  • Christine Hellyar: Looking XIV, 2017
  • Christine Hellyar: Looking XIII, 2017

Saturday 26 August 2017, 2.00pm - Sunday 5 November 2017, 4.30pm

  • Exhibition opening & artist talk: Saturday 26 August, 2pm
  • Gallery hours: 10am-4.30pm daily

Te Uru Waitakere Contemporary Gallery, 420 Titirangi Road, Titirangi, Auckland

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09 817 8087


Acclaimed Auckland-based artist Christine Hellyar has long been interested in how people see and depict the landscape.

Working with a range of materials and formats, she presents here botanical drawings of a flooded Coastland Broadleaf Forest in the Waitakere Ranges, printed life-size onto silk alongside sculptural textile figures and upholstered furniture.

Contemporary scenes are combined with historic materials and images to invoke polarities of colour, location, scale, period, drawing and sculpture, and fine or applied arts.

As part of the official opening, join Christine Hellyar for a fascinating discussion of the ideas behind her latest exhibition, followed by light refreshments.

The silk drawings and printed textiles mix Pacific scenes with 18th century toile cloth to reference the history of the 18th century enlightenment era in Aotearoa.

Figures are made from found clothing that recall shirts worn by the crew of James Cook’s ships, and women’s clothing that was used as an exchange item on Cook’s journeys.

The history of the Enlightenment in New Zealand has been a subject of Hellyar’s work since 2002, notably with her exhibition Mrs Cook’s Kete at the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford with Maureen Lander.

Exploring histories of gender, Hellyar notes that Mrs Cook’s mother was an entrepreneur with a warehouse that provided much of the women’s clothing used for trade in the Pacific.

Hellyar is particularly interested in what Europeans brought into the Pacific at that time, and also what they took, including the development of museum collections that map objects into hierarchies through museum processes of naming, sorting and display.

Botanical drawing, still in use in museums today, was popular in the 18th century, both for scientific use and amongst enthusiasts, amateur botanists and gardeners.

Hellyar’s exhibition exploits the natural, filtered light of the gallery, and its proximity to views of the Waitakere Ranges, reflecting the same light, colours, wind and rain to create a phsyiological experience that tests the relationship between the work and its original site.

“I hope to make something beautiful and memorable that will encourage people to look more closely at art, and more closely at the bush of the Waitakere Ranges,” she says.

Hellyar has exhibited consistently in New Zealand and internationally since the 1970s and her work is in many important New Zealand collections.

Supported by Artweek Auckland.