At the end of Garrett St we climbed the ubiquitous concrete staircase to the Hopkinson Mossman Gallery to visit their current Bill Culbert exhibition, Desk Lamp, Crash, 1998/2018. A very special chance to meet one of New Zealand’s few artists who is a household name both here and internationally.

Culbert grew up in New Zealand, living first in Wellington and then studying in Christchurch and his work still reflects kiwi sensibilities and conversation. He then moved to further study in London and has shared his living for a number of years now between London and the south of France.

Desk Lamp, Crash by Bill Culbert

Danae Mossman spoke enthusiastically of the gallery’s association with Culbert, of the Venice Biennale, of Te Papa’s acquisitions of Culbert’s work and introduced him to the gathering of Friends. Bill talked of his experiences and about travelling with and setting up his works.

Neil Plimmer, a former Wellington Sculpture Trust chair, was in the group and spoke of the Sculpture Trust’s commission of SkyBlue, recalling the audible gasp that was the audience reaction when the sculpture was first lit up in central Wellington. Bill and Danae both talked about the ‘celebration of electricity‘ that resulted in Faultline – a collaboration between long-time friends Ralph Hotere and Bill Culbert at the City Gallery.

Musing on his inspirations, Bill’s key influencers have been his friendships, travel experiences, the use of light and the sensibility of distance. Two new works also on display in the gallery gave us impetus to wonder and consider the recurring ideas of containers and light. This is work to both respond to and to rebel against. This is art both as conversation and provocation – a special visit and a privilege indeed. Thank you.

Deidre Tarrant

Member, Friends of Te Papa