As I sit writing this column on Friday morning, I have no idea what the status of the country will be when you are reading this. Hopefully Covid-19 is as under control as it can be and the situation hasn’t worsened.
While we’ve been told to prepare for the ‘when, not if’ of Covid-19 getting back into the community, it’s been hard to go back into restrictions and my heart goes out to everyone in Tāmaki Makaurau, Auckland. Going into level 2 on Wednesday was somewhat familiar territory. I’m incredibly grateful to the team here, who quickly and smoothly set everything back in place to ensure the museum could be open and operate safely. Only one gallery is closed, Mystery of History, and a number of interactives have been removed but otherwise all the exhibitions are open and available to enjoy as normal.
Events in the theatre are continuing, with measures in place to protect our patrons and numbers restricted to 100 as per government guidelines. With a 330 seat theatre, there is plenty of room for social distancing.
An interesting feature this time around has been the mushrooming of masks around the country. As always there’s so much creativity on display and lots of ideas shared freely online and via social media. At MTG we’re very lucky that one of our talented staff has created masks for our customer service team, so they have something to wear, should they wish to or the need arise.
Meanwhile some things continue as normal and the team have just finished installing a display of Lewis Evans paintings downstairs by the 1931 Hawke’s Bay Earthquake exhibition. Evans, a polio survivor, was a Napier local who painted scenes of life around the city from his bath chair (an early style wheelchair). Evans was entirely dependent on others to wheel him to locations he wished to paint. This meant his scope was greatly reduced and he was limited to Napier and nearby surroundings. Mostly he was transported by his father but other friends and family, such as artist Thomas Arthur (T.A.) McCormack, would also accompany him.
We have a number of Evans’ paintings in the collection, dating from 1905 through to 1935. This particular display focuses on life before the region was struck by the 1931 earthquake, and shows pleasant scenes of a small coastal town. The watercolour paintings, largely landscapes, include Clive Square, the beach, along Marine Parade and the breakwater. Evidence of a quiet gentle place – seemingly without a care in the world.
The idea to have this display came following a column our Social History Curator, Gail Pope, wrote on Lewis Evans’ work. Our Curators often write articles about works held in the collection but not necessarily on show. Following this particular column we had enquiries from people wanting to see the work and from this, the idea of a small display was born. We are grateful to have Evans’ work in the collection and delighted to share these with you.
If we’re still at Level 2 (or lower), please know MTG is open and safe to visit - we’d love to see you coming in and enjoying your regional museum.
Image caption: Lewis Evans: of time and place display
16 August 2020
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