Menagerie brings together 17 historical and contemporary paintings, prints, photographs and sculpture from the Gallery's Permanent Collections, all of which feature an animal of some description, from cats, dogs and birds to horses, bulls, fish and even a hippopotamus!
Collie Dog is from a set titled ‘Six Lithographs’, a collaboration between Duncan Grant and Vanessa Bell, with each artist contributing three works. Grant’s three lithographs also included Hawk and The Cat and were produced at Miller’s Press.
Grant was an active printmaker throughout most of his career, producing prints alongside his activity as a painter, designer, potter and decorator. He is a major figure in 20th century British art and was a central member of the Bloomsbury Group. He was also closely associated with the Omega Workshops which operated in London between 1913 and 1919.
The armadillo lives in South America. Its name means ‘little armoured one’ in Spanish. Among the twenty different species of this interesting creature, the three-banded armadillo is the only one that can roll itself into a tight ball when it needs to for protection.
The painter Graham Sutherland made this print as part of a ‘Bestiary’ published in 1968, a collection of twenty-six lithographs featuring different animals, each one suggesting a particular human-like quality. Curling tight, this armadillo may be expressing fear.
Here’s some beastly behaviour: William Hogarth, a famous eighteenth-century British artist, trading insults with two gentlemen whom he had greatly upset. Hogarth had published an engraving attacking the journalist Charles Churchill and
the politician John Wilkes, and another showing Wilkes being tried in court. Churchill, in return, published a vicious poem about Hogarth. He retaliated by making this print, picturing Churchill as a drunken bear, clutching a beer tankard and a
club covered in ‘lyes’. The picture in the lower right-hand corner shows Hogarth whipping Churchill and Wilkes (as a performing bear and monkey) into line. Meanwhile, Hogarth’s pug passes judgement on Churchill’s poem.
Cats were a particularly favourite subject of Eileen Mayo but all animal and botanical subjects were a constant source of inspiration for her. She illustrated several books on nature subjects, including the monumental The Story of Living Things and Their Evolution (1948).
A major influence on Mayo was Claude Flight, under whom she studied the linocut technique at the Grosvenor School of Modern Art in 1928. She exhibited regularly with the British Linocut exhibitions held in London between 1929 and 1937. Mayo emigrated to Sydney in 1953 and settled in New Zealand in 1962. She taught at the University of Canterbury School of Fine Art from 1967 to 1972.
There is an information sheet available about this work.