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Summer exhibition celebrates artistic achievements of longest running school of art

9 October 2007

A showcase of work by some of New Zealand’s best artists – Art School 125 – is the Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu’s major summer 2007-08 exhibition.

Art School 125 celebrates 125 years of artistic achievement by the University of Canterbury’s School of Fine Arts and the Gallery is proud to have developed the exhibition in partnership with the University, says Art Gallery Director Jenny Harper.

"The exhibition will examine the School of Fine Arts’ artistic and cultural achievements and feature work by such graduates as Margaret Stoddart, Leo Bensemann, Bill Sutton, Bill Culbert, Boyd Webb, Shane Cotton, Ronnie van Hout and Francis Upritchard."

Ms Harper says one of the Art Gallery’s key roles is to celebrate local art and the creative spirit and Art School 125 is such an exhibition. "It will provide everyone – Christchurch residents, visitors to the city and tourists – with the opportunity to view 125 years of art created by graduates from Canterbury.

"The exhibition will feature works in a range of media from paintings, sculpture and film to photography, printmaking, and the earlier decorative arts that were taught at Canterbury."

The exhibition will be designed in chapters, such as early pre-modernist era (pre-1930), regionalist painters (c1945 to 1960) and 60s-70s expressionism, each chapter clustering work by style and/or conceptual approach.

Art School 125 is a unique opportunity to celebrate and reflect on the achievements of the University of Canterbury's School of Fine Arts, one of the oldest schools of art in the Commonwealth, says Professor Desmond Rochfort, Head of the School of Fine Arts.

"This important school of art has trained and graduated many of the nation's leading artists and, as a result, it has and continues to be a major source of New Zealand's evolving visual identity."

He says the exhibition will give the public and the university community a wonderful chance to see the work of those who have been associated with the school, either as students or as teachers and lecturers over the years, and the importance and diversity of their work.

"For the School of Fine Arts the exhibition also represents a wonderful opportunity to cement a collaborative relationship with one of the leading public art galleries in New Zealand."

Art School 125 is one of a suite of three varied exhibitions over the summer which connects Gallery audiences with the work of both established and emerging artists form Canterbury. The other two are Of Deities or Mortals, featuring works inspired by the University of Canterbury’s James Logie Memorial Collection of Greek and Roman antiquities, and Another Destination.

"All three exhibitions are indicative of the Gallery’s continuing commitment to promoting artistic endeavour and historical research into art practice in Canterbury," Ms Harper says.

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