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Asburton Art Gallery Presents 'The Labours of Herakles'

Saturday 11th December – 20th February

The Ashburton Art Gallery is proud to present The Labours of Herakles; in this collection of twelve lithographs and eight etchings, the archetypal hero of Greek Mythology Herakles, is cast as a New Zealand colonist, with a series of tasks to complete. The exhibition will be opening on Saturday 11th December with an artist’s talk commencing at 1.30pm.

Herakles, fathered by Zeus himself, is the get-it-done character of Greek mythology who was given a list of twelve tasks by King Eurystheus. Most of these involved the slaying or taming of animals and monsters and making the environment safe for human habitation.

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Image: Marian Maguire - Herakles discusses Boundary Issues with the Neighbours

In this series Maguire gives Herakles a new list of tasks. She casts him as New Zealand pioneer, but unlike the hero of classical mythology Maguire's Herakles is not always successful. Despite his considerable physical ability, the enormity of the work ahead at times dismays him.

Clad in lion-skin and wielding his club, Herakles displays strength, persistence, and resilience. Set a challenge, he will do his utmost to see the task successfully completed, without for a moment questioning the rights or wrongs of the instruction.

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These qualities would have advantaged any pioneer tasked with transforming this country, however the Arcadia of Herakles' dream is within no easy reach and while, for the most part, he can reflect upon his labours with pride, his satisfaction is tinged with doubt.

Marian’s images mix the imagined with the real and display a personal response to history. Often figurative, her early work has also pictured architectural planning, gates, bridges and mythological landscapes. Since 1997 her prints and paintings have been largely related to Greek vase painting and in the series of etchings Southern Myths (2002) she worked a classical narrative into the New Zealand environment.

Born in Christchurch 1962, Marian Maguire graduated from the University of Canterbury in 1984. During 1986 she studied at the Tamarind Institute of Lithography, Albuquerque and in 1991 was Artist in Residence at the Otago Polytechnic School of Art. She received an Award for Excellence from the Canterbury Community Trust in 1998.


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