Max Gimblett and ‘The Art of Remembrance’

On display as part of Ngā Toi | Arts Te Papa is an exhibition called The Art of Remembrance, featuring the work of contemporary New Zealand artist Max Gimblett ONZM. This blog post gives some more information about the project and its earlier incarnation as a public art project in Auckland last year.

'The Art of Remembrance' exhibition at Te Papa. Photo: Michael Hall, Te Papa

The Art of Remembrance exhibition at Te Papa. Photo: Michael Hall, Te Papa

 

The exhibition contains hundreds of brass ‘quatrefoils’. Quatrefoils have been a recurring shape in Max Gimblett’s art for the past three decades. It is a shape with a rich history of associations from architectural decoration to an early Christian cross, as Max explains in this video.

 

In the context of The Art of Remembrance the quatrefoil gathers new meanings: it becomes a Pacific poppy, an outstretched hand, an abstract painting. Each of these art works is intended to represent a New Zealander who served in World War I.

Last year, artist Max Gimblett made 7,000 of them to hang on the exterior walls of St David’s soldiers’ memorial church in Auckland. For three months, the church stood as a glimmering message of peace and remembrance.

'The Art of Remembrance', St David’s Memorial Church, Auckland, 2015. Photo: Jessica Chloe Photography. Courtesy of Max Gimblett ONZM and The Friends of St David’s Trust

‘The Art of Remembrance’, St David’s Memorial Church, Auckland, 2015. Photo: Jessica Chloe Photography. Courtesy of Max Gimblett ONZM and The Friends of St David’s Trust

 

'The Art of Remembrance', St David’s Memorial Church, Auckland, 2015. Photo: Jessica Chloe Photography. Courtesy of Max Gimblett ONZM and The Friends of St David’s Trust

‘The Art of Remembrance’, St David’s Memorial Church, Auckland, 2015. Photo: Jessica Chloe Photography. Courtesy of Max Gimblett ONZM and The Friends of St David’s Trust

 

The Art of Remembrance was initiated as a public art project to connect in with wider World War I commemorations. But it is also intended to raise awareness of St David’s, a heritage building which faces an uncertain future and is in need of major restoration to meet contemporary building codes in New Zealand. My colleague Kirstie Ross, a history curator here at Te Papa, has written another blog about the church and the history of the art of remembrance. You can also find out more about the church and this project in the video below and on the Friends of St David’s website.

 

Curious about how Te Papa installed hundreds of these objects for the exhibition? Watch this…

 

Sarah Farrar, Senior Curator Art

 

 

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