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Art / Memory


Wed 21 Nov 2012, 10:30am–4:30pm
Thu 22 Nov 2012, 10:30am–4:30pm
Fri 23 Nov 2012, 10:30am–4:30pm
Sat 24 Nov 2012, 10:30am–4:30pm
Sun 25 Nov 2012, 10:30am–4:30pm

Where: Sarjeant Gallery, 38 Taupō Quay, whanganui, Whanganui, Manawatu / Whanganui

Restrictions: All Ages

Ticket Information:

  • Admission: Free

Listed by: MCH Admin

Memory is tricky; it can at once aid and fool us. For centuries we have developed and relied on memory aids to deal with this complexity, from pen and paper to memory sticks. However one of the oldest and most constant memory aids has been art. From cave art to photography and painting, visually capturing a moment, scene, person or idea has been a central part of artistic practice.

Some art works have memory at their core and explore the function of memory itself. In Christine Webster's Rememberer we see a bejewelled and scantily clad woman cradling a gilt frame to her face. The woman's expression is one of longing and wistfulness, as she reflects on her glory days she is the manifestation of an 'obsession with memory'. She exemplifies the struggle between the perceptions we have of ourselves, the way we remember ourselves, and reality. She embodies the stereotype that the best days are experienced in our youth and the memories of that sustain our later years.

Nostalgia is powerful and in works such as Looking Backwards by James Scott we see its influence in full force. Pictured is an elegantly wigged lady poised in an iridescent pink gown of true Eighteenth Century fashion, however this is not a painting from the 1700s. While the date of the work is unknown the life dates of the artist show that it was almost certainly painted in the early Twentieth Century. Powdered wigs and pannier's were not de rigueur when James Scott was working, meaning this painting, as indicated by the title, was intended as a homage to the grand full length portraits of the past.

Art has the ability to transport us to another place and time. In the work of Vivian Smith, Ida Carey and Walter Bayes we see the fashion, faces, colour and life of the early decades of the Twentieth Century in a way that books and black and white photographs cannot capture. Peter McIntyre's paintings show the Whanganui of the 1950s in scenes so familiar and yet so different to today. They are not simply memories of the past, but are also memorialising that which affects art. Artists can be motivated to honour a great figure from the past or a personal friend through their work, or equally the owners of an artwork can be inspired by a loved one to gift it to a gallery in their memory. These works enhance the Sarjeant Gallery Collection and are part of our rich heritage.