A Whole lot of Rain at the Hocken

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Ralph Hotere’s imposing artwork Rain (1979) will be familiar to a generation of University of Otago humanities students because it was commissioned by the university in 1979, and, once adorned the foyer of the original Hocken Library building (now known as the Richardson building). The work’s title references a poem written by the much loved New Zealand poet – the late Hone Tuwhare. Excerpts from Tuwhare’s poem ‘Rain’ are stamped and scrawled across the bottom reaches of the artwork’s three, unprimed canvas lengths.

The evocative five-metre high banners were removed from their original site in 2007 after concerns over their deteriorating condition. The building’s windy foyer and sunny aspect had led to major degradation of the thin paint pigment deployed by Hotere. The first stage of restoration work, carried out by Auckland paintings conservator Lydia Gutierrez, was completed in July and the banners have now been installed in the foyer of the current Hocken Library building at 90 Anzac Ave, Dunedin. Further paint consolidation will be carried out early next year.

The Hocken’s mezzanine floor enables visitors to experience this work ‘up close and personal’ and from a range of different aspects. Before Rain could be hung a special steel rigging had to be engineered and erected across existing roof trusses. While the three banners are lightweight, the perspex backing panels erected to support the fragile work weigh some 70 kilograms.

Next time you enter the Hocken Library look skyward and be entranced by the beauty of Rain! Read what the Otago Daily Times published about the rehung banners here.

Natalie Poland, Curator of Pictorial Collections

This entry was posted in NZ Historical Art by Anna Blackman. Bookmark the permalink.

About Anna Blackman

I'm Head Curator Archives here at the Hocken Collections and one of my tasks is to maintain this blog.

One thought on “A Whole lot of Rain at the Hocken

  1. Just want to pay tribute to Ralph as a great Artist and thank the Hocken for their role in preserving the culture of our Nation.
    Best wishes to all Staff Ralphs spirit will live on

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