Colin McCahon: A Constant Flow of Light

15 August 2020 - 6 March 2021

Hocken Collections Uare Taoka o Hākena holds one of the most important collections of McCahon’s art in New Zealand in addition to significant archives relating to his life and work.

Focusing on the period between the mid-1930s and mid-1970s, ‘A Constant Flow of Light’ will draw from these collections presenting major works of art such as ‘The Virgin and Child compared’, 1948 and ‘The Wake’, 1958 and examining key ideas the artist explored over this forty year period.

The Hocken began collecting New Zealand modernism in the 1950s because enlightened professionals such as former Hocken Librarians H.D. Skinner and Michael Hitchings and professional staff such as Hocken Art Curator Gordon Brown, worked alongside cultural patrons including Charles Brasch, Rodney Kennedy, Patricia France, John Caselberg and the McCahon family to ensure works by McCahon and other New Zealand modernists were represented in the Hocken’s art collection. Aware of the significant role Dunedin had played in shaping the beginnings of New Zealand modernism, they considered the Hocken, as a research collection accessable to all, the best place for important examples of this work to be housed.

Their endeavours, combined with the University of Otago’s support is the reason why the Hocken’s McCahon collection is so outstanding. ‘A Constant Flow of Light’ is timed to coincide with a companion exhibition about the artist at the Dunedin Public Art Gallery, as both institutions wish to acknowledge the artist’s significant relationship with Dunedin, and to share, investigate and interpret McCahon’s life and his art for new and current audiences.

Hocken Library


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