The intrepid group of art enthusiasts who braved one of Wellington’s more epic storms in July was rewarded with an exhibition encompassing many of New Zealand’s most notable landscape artists. Co-owner James Blackie was generous in sharing insights and responding to questions.
The star attraction undoubtedly was the 1968 Colin McCahon, Helensville Series A, No. 1-4. Instantly recognisable as a McCahon with its monumental and pared down black and white imagery but intriguingly lacking the trademark lettering found on much of the later work. This was in fact his last purely landscape before he began using words as an abstract way of expression, but James had a secret to reveal when he removed one of the panels from the wall. There it was, the characteristic McCahon handwriting scrawled over the back of this particular series of works.
The 1993 Pah Hill with Crescent Moon, a view from his studio window, was to be one of the last landscapes completed by Toss Woollaston. A painting he always kept by him and not previously seen before, it is on the market for the first time.
Other highlights include a particularly lovely Graham Sydney watercolour of a South Island early morning rural scene that captured that still chill atmosphere just brilliantly, and an exquisite Rita Angus watercolour with her trademark fine hills outlined in barely there purple.
Landscape 2017 at Page Blackie Gallery is a beautifully assembled show and well worth seeing. The exhibition runs till Monday 31 July.
Feature image: Jillian Wellings, James Blackie and Elizabeth Kay in front of Dick Frizzell The bridge, 2017. (It is not a specific bridge but the bridge that everyone knows! There were at least four suggestions as to where it might be.)