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Te Ru Movers and Shakers

When:

Wed 4 Sep 2013, 10:30am–4:30pm
Thu 5 Sep 2013, 10:30am–4:30pm
Fri 6 Sep 2013, 10:30am–4:30pm
Sat 7 Sep 2013, 10:30am–4:30pm
Sun 8 Sep 2013, 10:30am–4:30pm

Where: New Zealand Portrait Gallery, Shed 11, Wellington Waterfront, Wellington

Restrictions: All Ages

Ticket Information:

  • Admission: Free

A visitor to the new exhibition Te Ru – Movers and Shakers, the Early Portraits of William Beetham at the NZ Portrait Gallery, remarked that the titles of the portraits read like a map of Wellington!

Avenal McKinnon, NZ Portrait Gallery director, is thrilled that the Gallery is host to some of Wellington’s earliest portraits, some of which have never been publicly shown. It is 125 years since the death of William Beetham, regarded as one of New Zealand’s most remarkable early portrait artists, and this is the most comprehensive survey of his work ever mounted.

The exhibition includes a number of early Maori portraits which have been held by iwi or in family collections, and are shown in the NZ Portrait Gallery for the first time along with others from the Te Papa and Turnbull Library collections not previously exhibited. 'Brancepeth' has a big collection of William Beetham’s paintings and portraits which are also on show, along with others lent by members of the wider Beetham and Williams families.

“One of the remarkable aspects of these portraits is that they shed fascinating light on the early settlement history of the Wellington region, as well as showing the social and political interactions of the day- like the huge portrait of Dr Featherston and the Chiefs Wi Tako and Te Puni, commissioned in the lead-up to the crucial 1858 provincial elections, and the imposing portrait of Edward Jerningham Wakefield requested by his supporters to mark his efforts towards radical provincial government reform,” Avenal said.

Beetham didn’t sign or date his portraits so curator Jane Vial, and Avenal McKinnon, both art historians, have had to engage in some complex detective work to authenticate and date them, This has been done through access to Beetham’s diaries and other documents, and making connections between costume, hair style and jewellery. Some of the Maori subjects are pictured in formal European dress and Beetham has taken care to arrange details of costume in order to show moko to full advantage. As well as the portrait of Chief Wi Tako there are portraits of his daughter, and of Te Rauparaha’s son Tamehana and his wife Ruta. There are charming family groups of Beetham family members as well as individual portraits of civic leaders and the movers and shakers of the day.

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