ARTIST Gordon Crook CURATOR Kate Derum PARTNER Exhibitour NZ OTHER VENUES City Gallery Wellington; Manawatu Art Gallery, Palmerston North; Waikato Museum of Art and History, Hamilton; Fisher Gallery, Auckland; Bath House, Rotorua; Sarjeant Gallery, Whanganui; Dunedin Public Art Gallery, Dunedin; Robert McDougall Art Gallery, Christchurch; Forrester Gallery, Oamaru; Aigantighe Art Gallery, Timaru; Suter Art Gallery, Nelson; Hawke’s Bay Museum, Napier
Gordon Crook’s first (and only) public-gallery survey show, Images, Symbols, and Dreams covers twenty-one years of work. It includes pastels, collages, tapestries, prints, moulded paper-pulp bas reliefs, and poems. An avid epistolarian, Crook's letters—many to Jim and Mary Barr—are also displayed.
Crook was born in England in 1921. After serving in the RAF during World War 2, he studied art at St Martin's College, then studied textiles at London’s Central School of Art and Design. From 1948 to 1971, he lectured in design London’s Central School of Art—one of his students was New Zealand painter John Drawbridge. In 1972, at fifty-one, he emigrated to Wellington, to become a full-time artist. He never travelled again, not even to Auckland.
A colourist, Crook is known for his textile designs, particularly his public-commissioned tapestries and banners. His big break came in 1979, when architects Warren and Mahoney had him design twenty banners for the entrance hall of the New Zealand Embassy in Washington. His banners and wall-hangings also adorn government offices in Mexico, Tonga, and Samoa, and in Wellington’s Michael Fowler Centre.
Images, Symbols, and Dreams adds context to Crook's well-known public work. His work features abstract and figurative elements, with imagery derived from nature and from culture. Influences include primitive art and Egyptian art; Malevich, Picasso, and Matisse; and British pop art. The show is accompanied by a TVNZ documentary on the artist and a book published by Wellington’s Brooker Gallery.
Crook will die in Wellington, on 26 August 2011, aged 89.