Living Large. 5

Bill Hammond, Artist

This is one of the paintings in our collection. It was made in New Zealand in 1995.
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Object Detail

About the Work
"I am currently using Bill Hammond as my artist model for my NCEA Level 3 art boards, so finding this piece gave me a bit of inspiration and helped develop ideas. There are so many different characters doing their own thing, it makes it easy to get lost in the painting. The use of dreary colours adds a moody, dark tone to the piece."
- Freyja Wrigglesworth, 'My Choice' exhibition series, September 2022

Part of the Living Large series. The birds in this series are seen playing musical instruments. Here the bird is playing the harp, in Living Large 6, Christchurch Art Gallery, it is a cello. In this series he uses an inky black palette, in contrast to his signature emerald green and gold. The series references Hammond's time in the sub-Antarctic Auckland Islands and ornithologist Sir Walter Buller.

In 1989 Bill Hammond and Laurence Aberhart travelled to the sub-Antarctic Auckland Islands south of Bluff. Their destination was Enderby Island which was once used as a whaling station. Getting to the island was a challenging experience in stormy weather and it took two attempts. In conversation with Gregory O’Brien in 1996, Hammond described the island as a ‘birdland’ – a paradise free from predators. ‘You feel like a time-traveller, as if you have just stumbled upon it – primeval forests, ratas like Walt Disney would make. It’s a beautiful place, but it’s also full of ghosts, shipwrecks and death’. (1) Living Large No 5 is one of Hammond’s many paintings that are occupied by his distinctive otherworldly bird figures. They stand sentinel - seemingly on guard, waiting, looking out to their watery interior world. Woven in with Hammond’s ‘birdland’ is his ongoing conversation with the deeds of the Victorian ornithologist and lawyer Sir Walter Lawry Buller (1838-1906), who was responsible for the killing and trading of thousands of rare New Zealand birds.
(1) Cited in Bill Hammond: Jingle Jangle Moring published by Te Puna o Waiwhetū Christchurch Art Gallery, 2007. p25
- Greg Donson, exhibition text 'Together Alone. Works from the collection exploring human connections in a post-lockdown world' 27 June 2020 - 8 November 2020.
Image 1730 x 1900mm
Support 2040 x 2100mm
acrylic on unstretched linen
Painting on unstretched canvas using dark moody colours. Showing several groupings of standing birds shown in profile looking towards the centre of the image. There is a pathway of cresting waves from centre to the lower right corner, silhouettes of trees, a gold and blue ornate chair in the lower left corner with a similar couch in the lower right. At the top centre is a hanging chandelier, with a bird playing a gold harp and a four poster bed in the upper right corner. Four mountains are in the upper left quadrant, with a standing circle directly below. Across the bottom edge of the painting are paint drips to the lower edge of the canvas support. The title of the work and artist's signature is handpainted below the image.
Credit Line
Collection of the Sarjeant Gallery Te Whare o Rehua Whanganui. Purchased, 1995
Collection Type
Permanent collection
Acquisition Date
09 Jul 1996



Accession Number:

Part of 1 highlight set