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Source: Auckland Council

“The Painter and the Emperor” Revisited is a group show co-ordinated by Kate Hill and Ngaire Mules.

Central Gallery, Depot Artspace
Exhibition dates: 24 July – 11 August 2021
Opening: Saturday 24 July 2pm-4pm
Artist talk: Sunday 1 August 1pm
Artist on site Sundays: 25 July, 1 & 8 August

In 1978, Ngaire Mules, Kate Hill and Janelle Aston produced a 25 minute videotape, as part of a course run by Philip Dadson, at Elam School of Fine Arts.

The aim of the video, which was made using a Sony portapack with a hand-held camera, was to examine women’s attitudes towards combining motherhood with their practice as an artist.

The title of the original video, “The Painter and the Emperor”, is based on an ancient Zen tale in which an artist, commissioned to do a painting over a ten year period, finally picks up a brush and produces it on the last day.

When questioned by the irate Emperor as to why she needed ten years to do a painting that took five minutes the artist, calmly indicating a room full of sketches, stated that it had taken all those years to learn how to perfect the required work.

For many women artists the story is relevant in that, although their art production may have been put on hold, their ideas were fermenting or being expressed in small works that would eventually form the basis of a continuing and evolving practice.

The video will be showing concurrently on a small screen at the exhibition and, from July, will be available online from Ngā Taonga Sound and Vision.


Featuring women from the 1978 student video on motherhood and art practice:

  • Gretchen Albrecht
  • Philippa Blair
  • Marion Chasteau
  • Alison Duff
  • Jill Evans
  • Christine Hansen
  • Kate Hill
  • Lesley Kaiser
  • Ngaire Mules
  • Glenda Randerson
  • Andrea Robinson
  • Barbara Tuck
  • Belinda Weir

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