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Impressions of Land, Sea and Sky at Te Papa

Impressions of Land, Sea and Sky at Te Papa

Te Papa, with proud sponsors MetService and Jardine Lloyd Thompson Limited, is delighted to present the exhibition Constable: Impressions of Land, Sea and Sky, opening on 5 July 2006, at Te Papa.

This is an exceptionally rare opportunity for New Zealanders to see in their own country a major exhibition of works by John Constable (1776–1837), the most famous English landscape painter. Constable: Impressions of Land, Sea and Sky features more than 100 works by this remarkable artist, drawn from museums and private collections worldwide.

Te Papa’s Director Art and Collection Services, Jonathan Mane-Wheoki said today, “It is becoming increasingly difficult to bring exhibitions of this magnitude to New Zealand because of the prohibitive cost and the reluctance of lenders to allow their artworks to travel such long distances and to be away for months on end. In this instance, we have the National Art Gallery of Australia and the New Zealand government and our sponsors to thank for helping to make possible the exhibition’s only New Zealand showing.”

The exhibition traces Constable’s development as an artist and captures the sense of his close bond with the English countryside, where he was born and raised. From early watercolours to later paintings, the extraordinary range of his work is presented, including masterpieces such as, The Wheatfield 1816, Salisbury Cathedral from the Bishop’s Grounds 1823, A boat passing the lock 1826 and The Vale of Dedham 1827–28. Presented thematically to show key phases of his approach to the landscape, the exhibition places particular focus on his remarkable oil sketches from nature, including his sky studies and Brighton seascapes.

According to Mr Mane-Wheoki, the look of Constable’s landscapes will be familiar to many New Zealanders from reproductions and illustrations “but it is the freshness and sparkle of the actual paint application that is bound to surprise and delight visitors to the exhibition.”

Renowned for his pure and unaffected representation of nature, Constable’s works became the benchmark for naturalist painters in nineteenth-century Europe, particularly France. Half a century before the French Impressionists, Constable was creating his fresh impressions of land, sea and sky in England. The son of a prosperous mill owner, merchant and barge operator, he grew up along the Stour River in Suffolk, and spent several years working in his father’s business, where he learnt to understand the importance of weather to an agricultural community, observing atmospheric phenomena with a disciplined eye.

Constable’s subjects were connected to places he knew intimately. His rapid, on-the-spot sketches brought new vitality to the observation of nature. The exhibition focuses on his favourite themes – including Flatford Lock, Salisbury Cathedral, and clouds.

He combined his deep understanding of nature with a passionate interest in the works of the Old Masters, in particular the landscape painting of Claude Lorrain and Jacob van Ruisdael, juxtaposing their interpretations of the natural world against his own experience of it.

Developed by the National Gallery of Australia in partnership with the Te Papa, the exhibition will only tour to these two venues. Constable: Impressions of Land, Sea and Sky is curated by Dr Anna Gray, Assistant Director, Australian Art, National Gallery of Australia and Dr John Gage, Department of the History of Art, Cambridge University, a fellow of the British Academy who has recently worked on an exhibition of Constable for the Grand Palais in Paris. The exhibition is accompanied by a full-colour catalogue with essays from renowned Constable Scholars.

An exciting events programme, supported by MetService, will run throughout the exhibition. The programme will commence with a talk by curator Dr Anna Gray, and further events will include an exploration of the science and dramatic weather captured in Constable’s works. Te Papa’s Art After Dark series, held on the third Thursday of every month, will also provide a forum for visitors to enjoy guest speakers, discussion, and live music themed with the exhibition.


For images and further information please contact:
Bridget MacDonald, Manager Communications, 04 381 7083, 029 601 0180
Paul Brewer, Director Marketing & Communications, 04 381 7023, 021 532 920

Constable: Impressions of Land, Sea and Sky
5 July - 8 October 2006
The TOWER Gallery, Level 4
Admission charges apply.

Developed by the National Gallery of Australia in partnership with the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.

This exhibition is indemnified by the New Zealand Government.

Admission prices
Adults $12, Concessions $10
Children (4-14 years) $4.50, Children (under 4 years) Free
Friends of Te Papa $8, Friends - child $4
Family Concessions: 2 adults, 2 children $29; 2 adults, 1 child $25; 1 adult, 2 children $19

CONSTABLE EVENTS PROGRAMME, proudly supported by MetService

Thursday 6 July, 5.30pm–6.30pm: Constable: Impressions of Land, Sea and Sky
Join Anna Gray, curator of the Constable exhibition, as she discusses the innovative work of this remarkable English landscape artist. Soundings Theatre, Level 2. Free entry.

Thursday 6 July, 6.30pm–8pm: Science Express @ Te Papa: Extreme Weather: What should we be bracing ourselves for? Constable’s fascination with the weather is just as relevant today. Join Erick Brenstrum, MetService severe weather forecaster, to investigate contemporary issues. Espresso Café, Level 4. Free entry.

Saturday 15 July, 12 noon–12.30pm: Clouds over Constable Kids! Discover our new Constable exhibition. Constable loved to paint clouds. Now it’s your turn to paint them – on a rather unusual canvas. Come to Te Papa to find out what it is! Wellington Foyer, Level 2. Free entry.

Art After Dark. 6pm-8.30pm, Throughout Te Papa.
Coinciding with the much anticipated Constable exhibition, Te Papa has launched a new, monthly, event programme entitled Art After Dark. Enjoy an evening at Te Papa on the third Thursday of every month when the Museum is open until 9pm. Meet friends, have a drink, shop, visit the exhibitions, or join our Art After Dark events a veritable feast of discussion, debate, learning, and masterpieces.

Art After Dark, Thursday 20 July: Erick Brenstrum
Erick Brenstrum, author of The New Zealand Weather Book, looks at Constable’s work from a meteorological point of view.

Art After Dark, Thursday 17 August: Dr John Gage
Join Dr John Gage for a lecture on Constable and Turner. From Cambridge University, Dr Cage is co-curator of Te Papa’s Constable exhibition.

Art After Dark, Thursday 21 September: Constable finale
Come along for a last viewing of Constable: Impressions of Land, Sea and Sky with guest speakers, special floortalks, and live music.


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