Essay by Daniel Palmer,
“For Anton Lock, 1893-1971”
Publication launched on the occasion of Gavin Hipkins‘ exhibition Second Empire at Lopdell House Gallery, Titirangi (14th February-13th April 2008) during the completion of the McCahon residency at French Bay, Auckland (December 2007-February 2008)
“Gavin Hipkins’ Empire series employs the artist’s well-known technique of contrasting two photographically based images within the one photo-montage.
Wood engravings by renowned English illustrator Anton Lock are enlarged using a negative form and then juxtaposed with contemporary urban patches (embroidered tapestry decals intended for sewing onto clothing). This process coalesces archaic images from boys story-tales with decals used to embellish caps, trousers and jackets. It is as if past generation is meeting a current generation. Such layering of nostalgia with fashion and story-telling with bravado are characteristics in the entire Empire series.
In Empire (Loft) the background illustration depicts a group of musicians playing on-board an eighteenth century ship. The contrast with the word EVIL is both humorous and surprising. Daniel Palmer has described such pairings as ‘strange asynchronous hybrids’. The oppositions appear on the cusp of what could be regarded as sinister. Hipkins’s words for such oppositions are ‘the post-colonial uncanny’.
The irony of sending illustrated books to Commonwealth countries as presents for boys at Christmas time fascinates Hipkins who questions the relevant meanings such volumes would have in the Antipodes. As with all works within the Empire series, the background illustration is sourced from Anton Lock’s adventure stories for children illustrated in the Commonwealth and Empire annuals (1954-62).”
From the Auckland Art Gallery collection note
Lopdell House Gallery
Hamish McKay Gallery
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