Monday, December 7, 2009

On the Outside

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – I very much like Christchurch Art Gallery’s Outer Spaces programme on the Worcester Street side of the gallery exterior; I just wish they’d change it more often. That’s possibly an unfair comment given that they’ve only just raised the second work in the series but it did seem like the first one was up there for ever (and almost ever). I loved it but I was ready for the second work weeks ago. But enough of the nit-picking. Now we have this massive image by New Zealand photographer, Fiona PardingtonThe Prow of the Charlotte Jane (2009).’ There are plenty of other photographs by other photographers that have elicited a far greater emotional response from me but I do enjoy the story behind this work – and the undeniable photographic skill involved in its production. It’s a photograph of a glass model of the Charlotte Jane – one of those famous & much-touted first four ships that brought some of the first settlers to Christchurch in 1850. Made by Christchurch glass blower, John Rowe (a descendant of one of those first passengers), the glass model (his second) is now in the Canterbury Museum collection. A second smaller version of this work has recently been acquired for the gallery’s permanent collection and it makes an eerie, velvety statement in the new central hall of the revamped permanent collection gallery spaces – new, light, airy galleries that, it must be said, are a vast improvement over the old burgundy rabbit’s warren that existed before.

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