Posts written by Mark Stocker

How bazaar! J.F. Lewis and the Bezestein, El Khan Khalil, Cairo

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The English painter John Frederick Lewis (1804–1876)  was a fascinating and brilliant enigma to his contemporaries, and remains so today. He was certainly no pompous, verbose Victorian bore. At a dinner of the Society of Painters in Watercolours, Lewis delivered a memorable presidential address, rising from his seat, saying nothing, and promptly sitting down again…. Read more »

The other Princess Charlotte

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Nau mai ki te ao mārama, Pirinihi Hārata! Welcome to the world, Princess Charlotte of Cambridge, and may you prove a worthy spare for the heir, and a mini-feminist in your own right! The arrival of a baby daughter to the most famous woman in the world with an art history degree, the Duchess of… Read more »

Prints fit for a prince: a missive to Prince Charles

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                    Sir, I realise that your punishing royal itinerary regrettably prevents any visit to these far-flung shores during Nga Toi Season 4. Nor does our digital technology as yet permit a truly intimate interaction with the delightful art works discussed below. However, I trust that this blog goes some way towards wafting you into a… Read more »

Art for Valentine’s Day

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Feb. 14 is nigh!  A valid reason To commemorate the season Of love and matters of the heart As expressed in works of art, Chosen from our fine collection And brought to you, with much affection! The Valentine card in the form that we send (and hopefully receive) today only really became big business in… Read more »

Christmas Treasures from Te Papa

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  • 1948-0005-3; Party, Christmas Eve; Circa 1930; Richardson, H L.
  • 1948-0005-3; Party, Christmas Eve; Circa 1930; Richardson, H L.

Seasonal Treasures from Te Papa In global terms, Aotearoa New Zealand is not a religiously observant nation. But we have long taken pride in being a tolerant one. Many of us thoroughly enjoy our Santa parades, carol services and, among cultural enthusiasts, full-on performances of Handel’s Messiah. It is difficult to imagine a publicly displayed… Read more »

Jonathan Mane-Wheoki (1943-2014): An Appreciation

Jonathan Mane-Wheoki (1943-2014), 2009 (Michael Hall, Te Papa)

By the Art Curators at Te Papa: Sarah Farrar, Athol McCredie, Lissa Mitchell, Chelsea Nichols, Justine Olsen, Rebecca Rice, Mark Stocker and Megan Tamati-Quennell The recent passing of Jonathan Mane-Wheoki, CNZM, (Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Kurī, Te Aopōuri, Pākehā), the national museum’s Head of Arts & Visual Culture, leaves not only Te Papa but the wider art… Read more »

Watching goldfish in the nude: Thomas Benjamin Kennington’s Idlesse

T. B. Kennington, Idle Hours (The Goldfish Bowl

Is the painting Idlesse by Thomas Benjamin Kennington (1856–1916) a late Victorian time-bomb, which would have delighted intellectual guru Michel Foucault, author of The History of Sexuality? Or is it an unjustly overlooked, chaste, white masterpiece, a victim of prudery and puritanism in its lack of exposure since its acquisition by the New Zealand Academy… Read more »

Kenneth Clark: making art inspirational

  • Auguste Rodin Eve 1881. Private Collection
  • Frances Hodgkins Pumpkins and Pimenti, 1935 (Fletcher Trust Collection, Auckland)
  • John Piper Coventry Cathedral 1940 © Crown Copyright, Manchester City Galleries
  • Bust of Charlemagne, c. 1350, Aachen Cathedral Treasury (Wikimedia Commons)

Imagine this: the Soundings Theatre at Te Papa is staging a lunchtime event. It seats just over 300, but the only problem is that 24,000 people want to be there. This was the scary scenario confronting the National Gallery, Washington, when it screened the first episode of the pioneering television art documentary series Civilisation: A… Read more »

Philatelic Princesses

  • Poster, 'The "Royal" Road To National Fitness!'; 1943; C. M. Banks Ltd.  Purchased 2001.  Te Papa
  • Princess Elizabeth, 1943.  Cecil Beaton.  Bertram Park Collection, The British Postal Museum & Archive, London
  • Two pence + one penny Health stamp, 1944.  Gift of the New Zealand Post Office, 1944.  Te Papa
  • One penny + halfpenny Health stamp, 1944.  Gift of the New Zealand Post Office, 1944.  Te Papa

Famous stamp collectors in history range from King George V to Queen vocalist Freddie Mercury. The 1943 New Zealand Health stamps feature prominently in the latter’s carefully arranged schoolboy album. Their triangular shapes carry novelty appeal, while their subject matter is charmingly distinctive: Princess Elizabeth, later Queen Elizabeth II (aged sixteen) and Princess Margaret (aged… Read more »

Royal highlights: A portrait of Queen Mary

Portrait of Her Majesty Queen Mary, 1938. Elwes, Simon. Gift of the Women of New Zealand, 1939. Te Papa

  With the visit of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to New Zealand, it’s the perfect moment to ask what some of Te Papa’s treasures tell us about our feelings towards royalty.  Lorde’s critical and irreverent take on the ‘Royals’ of her mega-hit song runs counter to the overwhelming royalty loyalty of our past… Read more »