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Bill Hammond: Jingle Jangle Morning

18 July 2007

Bill Hammond

Jingle Jangle Morning

Jennifer Hay, with Laurence Aberhart, Chris Knox and Ron Brownson

"Just as (Bob) Dylan’s ‘Mr Tambourine Man’ can be read as a lyric poem about a search for transcendence in music and art, Hammond’s Jingle Jangle Morning captures a swirling, magic moment when, under the spell of melody, the jangled nerves of an insomniac painter are carried heavenward."Curator Jennifer Hay

A major new book published this week by Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu traces the career of Bill Hammond, one of New Zealand’s most sought-after contemporary artists.

Taking its title from a line in Bob Dylan’s song Mr. Tambourine Man, Jingle Jangle Morning reveals the development of Hammond’s practice – from his frenetic, music-inspired work of the 1980s through to the rock surrealism of the 1990s and the evolution of his signature bird paintings for which he is best known.

As author Jennifer Hay says: "Bill Hammond occupies a unique place in New Zealand art history; he has established a visual language and a painterly technique that are wholly his own."

The book explores Hammond’s artistic progression, with musician Chris Knox focusing his essay on the music-influenced works of the 1980s. He writes: "Unlike his later bird paintings, the early manifestations of Bill Hammond’s dyspeptic genius do not hang gracefully on wealthy walls. They are stubbornly resistant to the comfort of symmetry, never seeming to be quite level, always needing to be slightly adjusted – in vain."

Hammond’s bird paintings, which have been the focus of his practice since his 1989 trip to the sub-Antarctic Auckland Islands where he found what he called ‘birdland’, are explored in detail in essays by Hay and Auckland Art Gallery’s senior curator Ron Brownson.

Hay says Hammond’s epiphany in the Auckland Islands has become the stuff of legend. "The masses of birds staring out to sea, ruling the roost yet dangerously exposed to marauding bounty hunters; the salty, lonesome atmosphere; the ghosts of adventurers past – all captured Hammond’s imagination as he transposed this vision of birdland onto a primordial depiction of New Zealand."

Brownson writes on Hammond’s later works. "Through his avian themes he has developed a deeper, more stilled narrative that meditates upon our primordial natural history. These new paintings convey an all-encompassing feeling that goes beyond the transitory into a realm of melancholy and loss where grief can ensure survival."

Featuring more than 60 colour plates, of which many are double-page spreads, Jingle Jangle Morning is a spectacular book, designed by Canterbury artist and designer Aaron Beehre. The four essays by Jennifer Hay, Laurence Aberhart, Chris Knox and Ron Brownson provide an informative, accessible insight into the mysteries of Hammond’s painterly language, and are accompanied by an extensive chronology.

Jingle Jangle Morning has been funded by the Friends of Christchurch Art Gallery, Creative New Zealand and Spectrum Print.



Bill Hammond: Jingle Jangle Morning will be launched at Christchurch Art Gallery this Thursday, 19 July, at 6pm.

An exhibition of works featured in the book will be held at Christchurch Art Gallery from 20 July to 22 October.

Bill Hammond: Jingle Jangle Morning

220 pages with hardcover and poster-sized dust jacket, designed by artist and designer Aaron Beehre.

Texts by Jennifer Hay, Ron Brownson, Chris Knox and Laurence Aberhart.

Full page images of more than 60 of Bill Hammond’s most significant works over the last three decades.

Bill Hammond: Jingle Jangle Morning is $79.99 from Christchurch Art Gallery Shop: phone (03) 941 7370, fax (03) 941 7364 or email:

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