Accessibility Skip to Global Navigation Skip to Local Navigation Skip to Content Skip to Search Skip to Site Map Menu

Special Hocken exhibition for recently acquired art

Clocktower clock

Tuesday 28 August 2012 12:39pm

Cotton Back Words
Shane Cotton, Back Words, 2011, Hocken Collections Uare Taoka o Hakena. Photograph: Alan Dove.

Contemporary art acquired by the Hocken Library over the past five years will be showcased at a new exhibition launching on Friday (August 31), entitled Picture This: Recently Acquired Art.

Curator of Pictorial Collections Natalie Poland says the exhibition, which runs from 1 September to 10 November 2012, celebrates the strength and diversity of contemporary art practice in New Zealand.

“The art on display spans the wide range of media being deployed by artists today - from sculpture and performance to installation, video, photography as well as the conventional medium of paint,” she says.

“The contents of this show reveal several strands of the Hocken’s art collection development policy. Works by established New Zealand artists such as Billy Apple and Shane Cotton are displayed, alongside works by younger artists who have only recently emerged onto the national art scene.”

Acquisitions of art and unpublished archives are made possible by the Hocken Endowment Fund. This Trust was established in 1967 with a donation from a group of anonymous benefactors and has been augmented by other donors in subsequent years, notably the late Dunedin poet, author and arts patron Charles Brasch.

The exhibition also offers an insight into how the Pictures collection is currently being developed.

Ms Poland says that many of the artworks featured are the work of previous Frances Hodgkins Fellows – a focus of the Hocken’s art collection development policy.

The art collection development policy seeks to acquire suitable works by current and former Frances Hodgkins Fellows. Other past Fellows whose works are displayed here include Heather Straka (2008 Fellow), Eddie Clemens (2009 Fellow), Joanna Langford (2010 Fellow), Kushana Bush (2011 Fellow). A painting by 2012 Frances Hodgkins Fellow Nick Austin, Lettuce Poems, is one of the Hocken’s most recent purchases and this is its first showing in a public art gallery.

Another acquisition strategy is to address current gaps in the collection. As a result, the focus has increased on works by artists of Maori and Pacific Island heritage, with more recent purchases of art by Shane Cotton, Chris Heaphy and Greg Semu.

Ms Poland says that another gap was conceptual art; Billy Apple, who is now considered the grandfather of this type of practice, was previously only represented in the collection by a very minor work.

“Conceptual and the expanded genre of Performance, in particular digital animation, are future growth areas in contemporary art that we need to start collecting more actively.”

She adds that although this exhibition focuses on recent acquisitions of contemporary art, the Hocken still actively collects examples of historical art. Many historical works have also been added to the collection including a nineteenth-century John Gibb oil painting, Fish Curing, Port Chalmers (1889) and a Leo Bensemann surreal painting of St Bathans in Central Otago, dating from the 1960s.

Fibre Optic Broom

Eddie Clemens, Fibre Optic Broom #1, 2009, Hocken Collections Uare Taoka o Hakena. Photograph: Alan Dove.

Lettuce Poems

Nick Austin, Lettuce Poems, 2012, Hocken Collections Uare Taoka o Hakena. Photograph: Alan Dove.

Themes of the exhibition include:

Contemporary notions of landscape; Cotton (bicultural), Langford ‘place’ as imaginary construct and the presentation Goldfields by Dunedin artist Russell Moses.

The human desire to archive; Austin’s Lettuce Poems and Ann Shelton’s Artist Unknown, Rack 4 Hocken Collections

Mixing ‘lo-fi’ materials with high-tech componentry; Clemens’ Broom #1 and Langford’s installation Baltic Wanderer.

For further information or images please contact

Natalie Poland
Curator of Pictorial Collections
Hocken Library
University of Otago
Tel 64 3 479 5600

A list of Otago experts available for media comment is available elsewhere on this website.

Electronic addresses (including email accounts, instant messaging services, or telephone accounts) published on this page are for the sole purpose of contact with the individuals concerned, in their capacity as officers, employees or students of the University of Otago, or their respective organisation. Publication of any such electronic address is not to be taken as consent to receive unsolicited commercial electronic messages by the address holder.