20 January 2012 to 3 March 2012
Venue: The Gus Fisher Gallery, The Kenneth Myers Centre, 74 Shortland St
Contact info: 09 923 6646
Hutton and Cotton is an installation by artist Christine Hellyar that investigates taxonomies and threatened species with references to The University of Auckland’s own museum history. Hellyar makes use of the chaos and order of the partly demolished McGregor Museum in the School of Biological Sciences.
Hellyar’s work considers the divisions of animal, vegetable and mineral, and combines the history of museums and the history of art. The names in the title refer to Hutton, the 19th Century author of the first reference book on New Zealand native animals, and Cotton, the 20th century geomorphologist who had a great influence on painter Colin McCahon.
The McGregor Museum’s collections were started by Professor A.W.P. Thomas in 1884, and were originally housed on the first floor of The University’s Old Choral Hall. In 1939 the museum moved into purpose-built spaces in the Old Biology Building on Symonds Street, designed by Roy Lippincott, and in 1975 was named in honour of Professor W.R. McGregor, who joined The University in 1918 as a lab assistant and later took responsibility for developing the museum’s collections and displays as Curator and then Head of Zoology.
Hellyar questions the content and the displays in the McGregor Museum, and makes use of the Gus Fisher Gallery's historic Gallery Two as a space and a place. The exhibition’s structure relies on some of the cabinets and drawers that were saved from the McGregor Museum when it was partly demolished in the 1991:
- The 12 vertical drawers against the walls hold moa-like kawakawa bones
- The four horizontal drawers hold knitted cotton landscapes taken from images in Cotton's book
- The three glazed cabinets hold specimens of algae, fungi, and flowering shrubs
Christine Hellyar has held a life-long love for private and public museums. Many of her works explore our relationships with objects and collections, particularly how they are kept, valued and displayed. These include her ongoing Cupboards and Trays and the 2002 Mrs Cook’s Kete exhibition with Maureen Lander at the Pitt-Rivers Museum, Oxford, England.
Saturday 21 January
Artists in Conversation
1pm: Christine Hellyar talks about her Hutton and Cotton project with fellow artist Andrea du Chatenier.
2pm: Reuben Paterson discusses his exhibition Bottled Lightning with artist Lonnie Hutchinson.
Saturday 4 February, 1pm
The Gallery will be closed for Waitangi weekend.
Saturday 18 February, 1pm
In response to Christine Hellyar’s exhibition about the McGregor Museum, Stephanie McKenzie reports on The University of Auckland’s new project looking at its ‘hidden’ cultural collections, ranging from antique computers to geological specimens.
Saturday 3 March, 1pm
Curator Mary Sewell talks about the origins of the McGregor Museum as a teaching collection and highlights particular items of interest.
All exhibitions and events are free and take place at the Gus Fisher Gallery unless otherwise noted.