Bill Hammond

Walter Buller Blind

1994
acrylic on loose canvas, three peices
1070mm x 595mm; 890mm x 660mm; 1030mm x 880mm

signed W.D Hammond, dated 1994 and inscribed Walter Buller Blind One in brush point upper edge on left panel; signed W.D Hammond, dated 1994 and inscribed Walter Buller Blind Two in brush point upper edge on middle panel; signed W.D Hammond, dated 1994 and inscribed Walter Buller Blind Three in brush point upper edge on right panel

Provenance

Acquired from Gregory Flint Gallery, Auckland, 1994.

Exhibitions

Walter Buller Blind, Gregory Flint Gallery, Auckland, 1994.

Bill Hammond: 23 Big Pictures, Dunedin Public Art Gallery, Dunedin, 11 September – 14 November, 1999, Manawatu Art Gallery, Palmerston North, February – April, 2000, City Gallery, Wellington, 13 May – 13 August, 2000, Auckland Art Gallery, Auckland, 8 September – 5 November, 2000.

Literature

Bill Hammond: 23 Big Pictures. Dunedin: Dunedin Public Art Gallery, 1999.

Essay

Walter Buller Blind, a triptych on loose canvas panels, is from W.D. Hammond’s acclaimed series of ‘Buller’ paintings from the 1990s that reference the carte ...

Read full text
Estimate $160,000 - $190,000

Bill Hammond

Walter Buller Blind

1994

acrylic on loose canvas, three peices

signed W.D Hammond, dated 1994 and inscribed Walter Buller Blind One in brush point upper edge on left panel; signed W.D Hammond, dated 1994 and inscribed Walter Buller Blind Two in brush point upper edge on middle panel; signed W.D Hammond, dated 1994 and inscribed Walter Buller Blind Three in brush point upper edge on right panel

1070mm x 595mm; 890mm x 660mm; 1030mm x 880mm

Auction N˚1

Estimate $160,000 - $190,000

Footnotes
  1. Gregory O’Brien, Lands & deeds : profiles of contemporary New Zealand painters (Auckland, N.Z.: Auckland, N.Z. : Godwit 1996., 1996), 58.
  2. Ibid., 59.

Walter Buller Blind

by Jennifer Hay

Walter Buller Blind, a triptych on loose canvas panels, is from W.D. Hammond’s acclaimed series of ‘Buller’ paintings from the 1990s that reference the carte blanche killing frenzy of the English ‘collector’ of exotic birds, Sir Walter Lawry Buller (1838 – 1906). Buller, a Victorian ornithologist and lawyer, traded in thousands of rare native New Zealand birds, his dark obsession driving many species to the brink of extinction.

Hammond’s allegorical interpretation of these events came about as a result of a journey to the sub-Antarctic Auckland Islands in 1989. This vast and strange landscape is shaped by the elements, and the birds that inhabit the area exist in a world ruled by beak and claw. Hammond’s observations, coupled with reading Buller’s abundantly illustrated A History of the Birds of New Zealand (first published in 1873), compelled him to visualise the story of these birds in this major body of work, along with his concern for environments under threat, the vulnerability of life in a precarious world and the complex relationships between humans and nature. Pre-historic New Zealand has been an abiding interest of Hammond’s, whose works often imagine a primordial New Zealand before the arrival of humans. As he says: ”The Auckland Islands are like New Zealand before people got here. It’s birdland.”¹

Like scenes in an unfolding drama, the Buller paintings signify misdeeds conducted in a paradise lost and offer a strange interpretation of post-colonial politics. As with many of Hammond’s works, these paintings evoke a stage set and have a theatrical emphasis on costumes. Works from the same year such as Shag Pile (from the collection of the Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu) and Staten Landt (in the Alex Baird Collection, College House, Christchurch), are both painted on Victorian wall fabric, the opulent patterns mingling with the designs depicted on the birds. The gold Victorian wall fabric upon which Shag Pile is painted recalls suffocating velvet-lined parlours filled with exotic curios, a black-humour equivalent of that modern status symbol, the shag-pile rug. Other paintings dating from 1994 are painted on Kauri wood panels, metal, plywood or vinyl wallpaper. The varied media upon which Hammond paints augment and relate directly to his compositions, some recalling Oriental screens while other canvas fragments resemble flags or remnants of a message from a forgotten civilisation.