First Mayor/Office

Hurley, Gavin
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Object Detail

An apt addition to a Council-owned Collection, Auckland-based artist Gavin Hurley’s stylised portrait First Mayor / Office depicts George Hunter, a popular, prominent citizen and store-keeper general, elected as first mayor of the newly-formed, but short-lived ‘Wellington Borough’ in 1842.

Hurley’s works impart a sense of quietude and alienation. From a series depicting historical figures key to Wellington city’s formation, Hunter is rendered with Hurley’s signature hyper-smoothed, perfectly-layered paint application, creating doll-like features with distinctive personal characteristics within a reductive palette.

Hurley’s whimsical ‘portrait of a portrait’ shows this canonical figure overlooking a faceless office worker. On his desk is half of a famous watercolour from Aotearoa New Zealand’s colonial history - the only known work by Tahitian chief, tohunga, and Endeavour‘s on-board navigator, Tupaia, who described his 1769 observational drawing as ‘A Maori man and Joseph Banks exchanging a crayfish for a piece of cloth.’

Gavin Hurley (b. 1973) graduated from Elam School of Fine Arts, University of Auckland in 1998 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in painting. A full-time Auckland-based artist, he has exhibited nationally and internationally, with works held in public and private collections throughout New Zealand, Australia and Europe including the Christchurch Art Gallery and the Wallace Trust Collection. Hurley has featured in Warwick Brown’s 2009 artist book Seen this century: 100 Contemporary New Zealand Artists: A Collector’s Guide.
oil on linen
495 x 390mm framed
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