21 Sep 2023

History collides with art and storytelling in the upcoming exhibition, Out of Time, opening at Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū on Saturday 23 September.

As visitors venture on this time-hopping journey through the Gallery’s historical collection, they’ll discover surprising, intriguing and mysterious historical relics and artworks, each one with a tale to tell, says curator Ken Hall.

Out of Time brings together some fascinating treasures, and we think people are going to really enjoy the variety of works from across the globe and the stories behind them,” Mr Hall says.

“The earliest object, an early Bronze Age Cycladic figurine, is more than 4000 years old and originates from the Greek islands. Among the most recent works is a Japanese ukiyo-e woodblock, made in 1860 by Yoshitora Utagawa, commemorating a twelfth-century hunting party.

“A much treasured work, The Physician by Gerrit Dou returns to display, this time accompanied by a rare pottery flask that is a remarkable match to the one in the painting,” Mr Hall says.

Artist unknown Flask c. 1647. Marbled slipware (earthenware). Collection of Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū, gift of Rex Valentine, 2023

“Many of the objects and details in the work contain storytelling elements, relating to the moment represented: a seventeenth-century physician conducting a pregnancy test.”

Another highlight is a privately-owned album of Indian birds, painted by husband-and-wife Charles and Elizabeth D’Oyly between 1826 and 1827. Of the 25 watercolours, 20 are collaborative works made in the spring of 1826, with Elizabeth credited for the birds, flowers and foliage and Charles for the backgrounds.

“The artistic duo’s riveting history is documented in the Gallery’s latest Bulletin, exemplifying the depth of personal histories that sit behind the art we see,” Mr Hall says.

“As with many of the works included, the D’Oylys’ story connects with darker themes. Not necessarily for the faint-hearted, the selection includes depictions of brutality, including scenes from war, crucifixions and bullfighting.

“The stories behind other works connect to slavery, colonisation and international drug dealing – namely, the British opium trade. Among the best-known artists are Albrecht Dürer and Francisco de Goya.”

There are also local colonial moments, lithographs of early waka, an exquisite eighteenth-century silver coffee pot and medieval manuscripts.

Running from 23 September 2023 to 28 April 2024, Out of Time will be introduced by curator Ken Hall in a floor talk on opening day at 1pm. Entry is free.

Image credit: Yoshitora Utagawa Yoritomo’s Hunting Party on the Plain of Mount Fuji 1860. Ukiyo-e woodblock. Collection of Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū, purchased 2021