Gerda Leenards: Fjords, Mist & Vapour

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Media Release: October, 2003. 

Paintings of landscape, sky and weather around one of New Zealand's most spectacular landscapes are presented a new series of work by Wellington artist Gerda Leenards. Fjords mists & vapour opens in the Michael Hirschfeld Gallery on 17 October. Described by curator Gregory O’Brien as one of New Zealand’s most singular interpreters of landscape, Leenards thinks feels and paints her way into Doubtful Sound, Fiordland, presenting a sequence of dramatically edited views of the physical world.

The works in Fjords mists & vapour are paintings in which time and space are hauntingly altered. Hills appear like veils and mist weighs heavily on the landforms. Like all Leenards’ work the series is an exploration of ‘landscape’ in a general sense. “It is the abstract and emotive qualities that are important to me,” says Leenards, “the subject is only part of it.”

Her Fjords series, based on views around Deep Cove in Doubtful Sound, Fiordland, evolved from photographs and sketches she made while accompanying a scientist on a research trip to the region in 2002. In the Mists series there are echoes of the work of other weather-obsessives, Anne Noble’s Wanganui River photographs, Jerusalem-era poetry by James K. Baxter, and the films of Vincent Ward, all of whom have been transfixed by the expressive potential of weather.

Curator Gregory O’Brien describes the works in Fjords mists & vapour as paintings in which time and space are hauntingly altered. He says Leenards’ paintings are not self–contained pictures so much as they “pieces of landscape that rhythmically step their way around the gallery walls; landscapes in which the only human presence is the viewer in the gallery.”

Born in Nijmegen, Holland, in 1946, Gerda Leenards immigrated with her family to New Zealand in 1956. Her work has featured in four previous exhibitions at City Gallery Wellington. She lives and works at Breaker Bay, near the entrance to Wellington Harbour, where she can watch the weather from home.

Hear Gerda Leenards and Wellington meteorologist Erick Brenstrum give an illustrated talk about the exhibition on Tuesday 4 November at 6pm at City Gallery Wellington. Free admission.

Fjords mists & vapour is presented within the 360 programme – a full perspective on Wellington art and design, which is generously sponsored by Designworks. Thanks also to Magnum Mac, Colourcraft and Publication & Design, Wellington City Council. City Gallery Wellington is managed by the Wellington Museums Trust with major funding from the Wellington City Council.