18 Aug 2013

Sketch books, The Birds and Bill Hammond Pt2

I bet Artist Bill Hammond of Lyttleton New Zealand, has some very informative sketchbooks. Hammond attended the School of Fine Arts at the University of Canterbury from 1966 to 1969 and began exhibiting in 1980. I'm not sure how quickly or warmly Hammond was received but he surely seems to be a powerhouse. His early work still seems contemporary. The cubist/tribal/surfboard cartoons of the 90's pop culture surely must have been schooled by Hammond in some shape or form but he still very much transcends it.

Bank Video 1989
Bank Video is an earlier work depicting a rather violent scene in comic book style. These 1980's works were painted on metal, wallpaper, canvas and Holland blinds. It seems Hammond was reckless, desperate, almost exploding to produce. I've always loved diverse use of materials and believe this slight disregard of tradition or forced audience re-focus is a clue to Hammond's concerns and to his credit. By 1991's Modern Day, one of the last of these works, his style had begun to change. The background and foreground had merged reminiscent of Japanese vase paintings.

Modern Day 1991

I first became aware of Hammond by a truly modern way. Channel surfing while bored, flatting, broke and idle. Hammond was the focus of discussion on some daytime/morning lifestyle show. This must have been around 1996 and the work I remember was Icarus. The "Placemakers" series/ideas was the result of a trip to the Auckland islands in 1991 and Hammond's interest in Walter Buller's "A History of the Birds of New Zealand".

Icarus 1995
Obviously I'm no P.h.D. so my ignorance will be staggering in its dogs balls likeness but I remember being blown away. I remember thinking, why is there not more art like this. Haunting, blatant. Twisted with a slap in the face. Anti-everything that's wrong but so bloody sweet as to infiltrate the white walls. I for many years forgot Mr Hammond's lessons to me like I do with many others. One sunny day after a young death, a good friend was by my side for a peep talk. Hammond came up. Stories of his work ethic and dedication lifted me and my dear friend set me to sail. This was many years ago now. This past April I had the good fortune to spend a few months in my home town of Christchurch, New Zealand and with another good friend spoke of Hammond. The smell of green hills and the turquoise harbour inspired me like never before.

Placemakers 2 1996

I talked with friends, artists and musicians. Mused on work, working and process. I freed my old car from storage, drove through the feat that is the Lyttleton tunnel to the port and thought of Hammond. Somewhere among the leafy, broken port, in secret, scribing in a sketchbook. Quite an intimidating thought for a person as short on talent as myself but inspiring none the less. 

Ballroom 2000

Thank you my New Zealand friends. Thank you to the Australian brethren. Thank you to The Eastern. Thank you for the Territory. Thank you to the Wunderbar. Thank you to artists and their scuffed pages, grubby hands, spilled paint and dirty clothes. Thank you for the Sketch books, long talks and cold beers. Thank you to the friends. Thank you for the support, shared tears and hard words. Thank you to my family and my other family. Thank you to Mr Bill Hammond.

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