In memory of Bill Hammond
3 Feb 2021
Kua hinga te Totara o te wao nui a Tane.
Creative New Zealand is saddened at the news of the passing of Bill Hammond, one of Aotearoa’s most significant contemporary artists.
Creative New Zealand Chief Executive Stephen Wainwright says, “he was one of the greats and will be missed by the art community of Aotearoa, especially in Whakaraupō / Lyttleton where he was well known, especially pre-quake for the artwork he created in the 1990s for the Volcano Café”
Born in 1947, Hammond attended the Ilam School of Fine Arts at the University of Canterbury before embarking on a career in the arts that included working with signwriters, making jewellery and designing and manufacturing wooden toys. He devoted himself to his art practice full-time in 1981 following his first solo exhibition.
The Queen Elizabeth II Arts Council awarded Hammond grants in 1984, 1987 and 1990 before his influential trip with DOC and the Royal NZ Navy to the Sub-Antarctic islands, an experience that sparked the development of his unique bird-inspired iconography.
In 1992 Hammond secured an Arts Council Visual Arts Fellowship and his award-winning works have been showcased nationally and internationally. In 1994 he was The Wallace Arts Trust Paramount Award Winner and a joint winner of the premier award at the Visa Gold Art Awards. Prominent international exhibitions include: Distance Looks Our Way: Ten Artists from New Zealand, a group exhibition at the International Expo in Seville, Spain (1991); Headlands: Thinking Through New Zealand Art at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney (1992); Paradise Now? Contemporary Art from the Pacific at the Asia Society Museum in New York (2004); and his work was presented at the 1999 Asia Pacific Triennial in Brisbane and the 12th Biennale of Sydney in 2000.
Creative New Zealand is proud to have supported publications that have documented and contextualised Hammond’s distinctive works, including the catalogue for the major retrospective Jingle Jangle Morning that was staged by the Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū in 2007. Hosting more than 60 colour plates of Hammond’s work the publication went on to win the illustrative category of the Montana New Zealand Book Awards and best cover, best illustrated publication and the top prize of best book at the Book Publishers Association awards in 2008.
Hammond’s work is held in numerous public and private collections and he leaves an incredible legacy of works that draw on New Zealand’s cultural and physical landscape. The well-known work The Fall of Icarus (after Bruegel) is currently on display in Christchurch for the first time since the earthquakes within the exhibition Te Wheke: Pathways Across Oceania.
Haere atu rā e te hoa.