The Cool Show
A summer exhibition displaying some of the Collection’s cooler, more relaxed images
Last year’s Hot Show, which was put together for winter/spring 2010, has been replaced by a summer exhibition designed to display some of the Fletcher Trust Collection’s cooler, more relaxed images. The exhibition includes landscapes, some of them very old, particularly the 1826 engravings from Louis Isidore Duperrey’s Voyage autour du monde. Among the crew of the corvette La Coquille that sailed under his command around the Pacific including New Zealand in the years 1824 to 1825 were artists who saw island life as exotic. It is hard to resist the allure of these romanticised images even today.
There are landscapes from later artists as well, some of them well-known figures, such as Don Binney, Peter Siddell, Michael Smither, and Robin White, who were also attracted to Aotearoa’s seas and mountains. Other perhaps lesser-known figures featured include John Duncan, Rata Lovell-Smith, Charlton Edgar, and Olivia Spencer-Bower. Many of these paintings were purchased at auction during the 1970s and 1980s by Sir James and Lady Fletcher, who knew that people would enjoy them in their offices throughout the Fletcher complex at Penrose.
There is a group of summery still life garden paintings. Evelyn Page’s Tribute to China features large white lilies and a ceramic horse, while Jane Evans’ very loose watercolour Summer Garden I gives a vivid impression of drifts of colour in a closely planted garden. Among the abstract works included in the show are Milan Mrkusich’s magnificently glowing and mysterious Painting Green (1971) and his Painting III Green (Light) of over thirty years later. In these, no image is depicted.
Like Ian Scott and Robert McLeod, Mrkusich invites us to think about and enjoy shape, colour and texture in an abstract composition. Even the titles of the works discourage the viewer from making any associative connections with objects in the world outside the paintings themselves. The postcard image is of Joanna Braithwaite’s Afternoon Bather. This is an amusing painting of a rather snooty-looking woman, who is perhaps observing something not quite nice in the water nearby. The little study the artist did for the larger painting is also included in the exhibition.
View of the lower harbour Otago from Port Chalmers
1849, 396 x 745mm, Hand tinted lithograph by Trelawny Saunders, Colonial Library, London
MONKHOUSE, William, after a sketch by Thos. Thorpe
The New Dock at Dunedin, New Zealand
c.1875, Hand tinted lithograph