Homeless Christchurch bookshop inspired art
AN iconic Christchurch bookshop saved from the September 4 earthquake inspired artwork in an exhibition at Peter McLeavey Gallery in Cuba St.
Recent Paintings is by Christchurch artist Darryn George, whose family are fine after the quake, says gallery owner Peter McLeavey.
George says the development of the more explicitly Maori designs in his work dates from a visit several years ago to the iconic secondhand bookshop Smith’s, in Christchurch.
Smith’s bookshop moved out of its building about a month before the earthquake to allow for strengthening of the old terrace, which has been condemned since the shake, says Christchurch artist Jason Greig.
At the time of George’s visit to the shop, a series of antique prints of Maori taniko patterns hung in the window of the six-floor Manchester St store.
George was told they were not for sale, but they sparked his curiosity and he headed to the library, eventually researching moko and Maori Christian church carvings.
After experimenting with the forms and repetitions on a computer, he introduced the designs into his works.
The other two large-scale works, in the main room, are from the Rarohiko series – Maori for computer – and George says his starting point was his class in front of him, with the backs of their laptops in receding rows of screens on desks.
Despite recent ill health, gallery owner Peter McLeavey still came to the gallery on the day George arrived in Wellington to install and open the show.
It was McLeavey who suggested George’s 2008 work, Pukapuka, – held in McLeavey’s stockroom – would suit the back wall of the second room and complete the show.
“That work dates from an earlier series inspired by a bookshelf I was looking at getting rid of at home,” George says.
He looked at the array of books, and the patterns formed by the covers and shelves, and decided “this ugly bookshelf does contribute to my world view.”
A book, Darryn George, published this year through Mihi Publishers, is also part of the exhibition.
It has full colour plates of George’s paintings from 2004-2010, and an essay by arts writer Lara Strongman.
The book includes an interview with the artist by Dr Deidre Brown, Maori art and architectural historian, who shares George’s Ngapuhi whakapapa.
The exhibition closes on September 24.