20 May 2011 marks 150 years since Gabriel Read discovered the payable gold that led to the Otago gold rush in an area now known as Gabriel’s Gully near the Otago town of Lawrence. This momentous discovery and the gold rush that followed rapidly transformed the face of Victorian Dunedin. This exhibition, which explores the use of gold in contemporary art and photography, has been mounted to commemorate this sesquicentennial. Artisans and artists have been awe struck by this highly malleable and alluring precious metal for thousands of years.
The show includes more than forty artworks and photographs that either employ gold as a material or colouring, or take gold mining as their subject. There is a focus on work by artists with strong associations to Otago such as Cilla McQueen, Ralph Hotere, Mary McFarlane and Russell Moses. Other artists that feature in the show, and well known for their use of gold in their work, are Tony Lane and Max Gimblett. Photographers with work on display include Ben Cauchi and Marti Friedlander, who use the early photographic process of gold toning as well as Peter Peryer and Peter Evans who have both captured the open cast gold mine near Macraes Flat in East Otago.A small number of historical items including a fifteenth century Book of Hours from, an 18th century Russian ikon, late nineteenth century gold-toned photographs by Rev John Kinder and an album of photographs of Chinese miners who worked in various Otago goldfields, provide a historical context for the contemporary works.