Continuity and Change: the Hocken’s art across time

Exhibition date:
09 December 2017 to 27 January 2018
New Zealand
University of Otago Library

CONTINUITY & CHANGE reflects on the evolution of the Hocken’s art collection from its early beginnings through to the present day. It is also a creative exploration of the interplay and interconnections between works of art contained within a collection of this sort.

Dr Thomas Morland Hocken (1836-1910) primarily collected pictures based on their historical significance and for illustrative purposes, as a means for documenting life in New Zealand. Indeed, a large number artworks included in the original pictures collection were created by surveyors, draughtsmen, botanists – many of whom would not regard themselves as artists, but whose works provide a window into New Zealand’s cultural imagination at the turn of the twentieth century.

This approach to collecting pictures continued until the 1950s, when the Hocken’s art collection was transformed by progressive thinkers, artists, writers and cultural benefactors: Colin McCahon, Rodney Kennedy, Charles Brasch, Charlton and Mona Edgar, who introduced Modern and contemporary New Zealand artworks into the collection. The collection’s development, interpretation, reputation and care was also enhanced and championed by forward thinking professional art curators on the staff, such as art historian Gordon H. Brown.

A decade or so later, the establishment of the Frances Hodgkins Fellowship provided an opportunity to collect new work by contemporary New Zealand artists who developed a connection with Dunedin and the University of Otago through the artist residency programme. As a tribute to the significance of the fellowship and its continued importance, this exhibition is hung over the colour palette developed by 2016 Frances Hodgkins Fellow Miranda Parkes for her exhibition ‘the merrier’, with permission from the artist.

Today the Hocken’s art collection is rich and culturally diverse in its holdings of historical, Modern and contemporary art, and with over 17,000 artworks it is one of the largest art collections in New Zealand. Furthermore, over 2 million photographs (ranging from historical to contemporary lens-based imagery) adds to the Hocken’s greater pictorials collection, which progresses through moments of continuity and change.

With works by over fifty artists including: Rita Angus, Shane Cotton, Graham Fletcher, Tony Fomison, Jacqueline Fraser, Charles F. Goldie, Anne Hamblett, Lonnie Hutchinson, Bill Hammond, Michael Illingworth, Jeffrey Harris, Ralph Hotere, Yuki Kihara, Doris Lusk, Eileen Mayo, Colin McCahon, Fiona Pardington, Neil Pardington, Miranda Parkes, Ian Scott, Greg Semu, Ann Shelton, Michael Smither, Marilyn Webb, Robin White, Toss Woollaston, and many more.


Text extracted from the University of Otago Library website.