29 September to 14 October 2018
First Impressions: 19th century watercolours of the Auckland region

Easily transportable, relatively inexpensive and time efficient, watercolours were a convenient means for European settlers in Auckland to express impressions of their new environment in the 19th century.

The works from the period convey a sense of wonder in encountering a new landscape of boundless horizons, and what amateur artist Caroline Abraham described as "my own bright land".

It is tempting to view historical watercolours as objective records of landscapes. Nineteenth-century watercolours often reflect the colonists' desires to tame, codify and beautify the New Zealand landscape after their own understanding and ideals. Idyllic and picturesque, the watercolours imprint these same qualities onto the land.

In exhibiting works by both amateurs and professionals, First Impressions explores how watercolour was used to convey impressions of the Auckland region, expressing the settlers’ ‘voices . . . among these extensive hills’.

Image Credit: Edward Harker, 'No 1 View of Parnell and Auckland taken from the top of Mt Eden', circa 1865, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, purchased 1940

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Last updated: 11 June 2019