CURATOR Jennifer Hay ORGANISER Christchurch Art Gallery OTHER VENUES Christchurch Art Gallery, 20 July–22 October 2007 PUBLICATION essays Laurence Aberhart, Ron Brownson, Jennifer Hay, Chris Knox
Taking its title from a line in Bob Dylan’s song ‘Mr. Tambourine Man’, Jingle Jangle Morning traces Bill Hammond’s career over nearly three decades. The Lyttelton painter is famous for his endlessly inventive paintings of bird people.
The show is organised in five sections. ‘Mix Master’ reflects Hammond's early, art-school-era interest in pop, rock, classical, jazz, and punk music, which not only furnished endless emotional scenarios but also a way of approaching the act of painting. ‘Endangered Species’ witnesses the effects of a trip to the other-worldly the subantarctic Auckland Islands in 1989, which inspired his bird people and enabled Hammond imagine a primordial New Zealand, before the arrival of humans. Hammond spoke of the Islands as a kind of lost world, ruled by beak and claw: ‘The Auckland Islands are like New Zealand before people got here. It’s birdland.’
‘Zoomorphic Dream’ refers to the grotesques and shape-shifters that appear in many guises in Hammond’s paintings, representative of his abiding interest in symbolism, surrealism, and medieval art and architecture. ‘Limbo Ledge’ introduces a change in Hammond's work, when he moved to a larger studio space with panoramic views of Lyttelton Harbour and the surrounding landscape in 2000. Much of his subsequent work refers to the distinctive geography of Banks Peninsula, with airy, open compositions portraying angelic messengers living in the clouds, in coastal habitats, upon plateaux, or underwater.
The show culminates in a major new body of work, ‘Jingle Jangle Morning’. As curator Jennifer Hay says to the Dominion Post, ‘He's working on a really major series at the moment that he calls his Cave paintings … They are very exciting. He will continue to surprise us.’