Canterbury artist Hammond paints to own rare beat

31 July 2019

A prominent Ōtautahi artist and University of Canterbury alumnus will be celebrated at an exhibition held in August. Canterbury artist Bill Hammond is best known for his hauntingly beautiful half-human, half-bird creatures.

  • Hammond_NWS

    Bill Hammond's Bone Yard Open Home, Cave Painting 4, Convocation of Eagles.

A prominent Ōtautahi artist and University of Canterbury alumnus will be celebrated at an exhibition held in August. Canterbury artist Bill Hammond is best known for his hauntingly beautiful half-human, half-bird creatures.

An evocative exhibition featuring rarely or never seen works by the leading contemporary artist will take centre stage at the Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū from August.

Titled Bill Hammond: Playing the Drums, the exhibition alludes to the Christchurch artist’s passion for drumming and percussion, and a lifetime love of music.

Hammond’s studies at the University of Canterbury’s Ilam School of Fine Arts in the 1960s were complemented by his trap set percussion talents as a member of a popular folk group, Band of Hope Jug Band.

More than 40 artworks covering several decades of Hammond’s work will be on display at the Christchurch Art Gallery from 3 August to 19 January next year.

The exhibition includes works from the Lyttelton-based artist’s private collection.

Christchurch Art Gallery Director Blair Jackson says Playing the Drums provides the perfect opportunity to “celebrate the works of one of New Zealand’s great artists”.

“Much of Hammond’s early work features musical references, including song titles and lyrics,” Mr Jackson says. “However, Hammond is most renowned for his striking half-human, half-bird creatures.

“Many of Hammond’s later works convey a deep sense of disquiet as the artist explores the fragility of the natural environment.

“The precarious nature of today’s world and the vulnerability of all species – including humanity – are very much in focus in Hammond’s later works.”

Bill Hammond: Playing the Drums brings together a wide selection of Hammond’s work – early and late – from some of his smallest works on paper to some of his largest paintings on canvas.

Among the highlights is the opportunity to see The Fall of Icarus, a Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū collection favourite, on the wall for the first time in over a decade.

Another is the inclusion of Bone Yard Open Home, Cave Painting 4, Convocation of Eagles.

Painted in 2008, the work is more than two metres tall and four metres long, with strong connections to Lyttelton, Sumner, Redcliffs and Banks Peninsula. It is the first time that Bone Yard Open Home has been shown in Christchurch and only the third time it has been displayed publicly.

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