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489.finalversion

  1. 1. RELI 489Supervisor: Dr Anna GadeAaron Frater300002540 Images of Jesus Christ in New Zealand 1800s - Now.Introduction. New Zealand is often seen as having no real religious history. Nichol says thatthere is a “culturally influenced form of Christianity” in New Zealand, and we can seewhere it has come from and how the teaching and ritual practices of the past have ledto the pluralistic Christianity of contemporary times.1 The focus of this essay isprimarily on British, European, and American Christ imagery as it came to NewZealand and became part of, and was shaped by, New Zealand culture. The shorthistory of Christianity in New Zealand makes it relatively straight forward to survey,but the sheer volume and variety of imagery makes it a large field. This is paper is aselection of imagery, to demonstrate the progression from imported traditional imagesto the variety of locally created contemporary imagery which illustrates the processesof production, teaching, and response. The progression from overseas traditionalimagery to local contemporary imagery shows that the production of, teachingfunctions of, and response to, depictions of Christ embody the personal and culturalbeliefs, desires, needs, projections, and learned expectations of the producers, and theresponses of the viewers.2 Production and mass production of images of Christ for1 Christopher Nichol, James Veitch, (eds) Christopher Nichol “Introduction” Religion in New Zealand(Wellington: Victoria University, 1988) p 102 David Freedberg (in) David Freedberg, Oleg Grabar, Anne Higonnet ,Cecelia F. Klein, Lisa Tickner,Anthony Vidler “The Object of Art History” The Art Bulletin 76:3 (Sept, 94) pp 394 / 395 1
  2. 2. pedagogical and devotional use began in New Zealand as British, European, andAmerican imported imagery. Initially the imagery from the old world of British andEuropean Christianity shaped New Zealand culture, only to be shaped themselves incontemporary times to reflect a more New Zealanders imagery of Christ in stainedglass, paintings and sculpture. The churches and art objects, of the mostly Protestant Christianity of the 19thcentury in New Zealand, are a primary source of images of Christ. Settler homes andMaori embodiment and adoption of Christianity are another source. Earlyecclesiastical art was mostly stained glass, a very religious art form, that teaches byembodying texts and traditional iconography. In the early 20th century WilliamHolman Hunt’s Light of the World came to New Zealand with a message of theculture and piety of the Britain, arriving at a time when New Zealand was beginningto form its own identity. It is a work that left its legacy in stained glass windows, massproduced copies, and as a feature in Christian education of its time. Warner Sallman’s1940 Head of Christ shows how an American image of Christ translated into massproduced versions that became Christian pedagogical and ritual icons in its own right. Artists of the later 20th century took images of Christ from primary in theecclesiastical world, into their own expressive outputs and personal quests. Thismodern work shifted the pedagogical, commemorative and ritual functions fromchurch based to individuals, galleries and the commercial world of the wider culture.The artist Colin McCahon and Tony Fomison were painters who put Christ in the 2
  3. 3. New Zealand landscape, and broke from the traditional images of their times. In theearly 21st century some contemporary artists such as: Richard Lewer, Jeffery Harris,and Brett A’Court, continued the legacy of the artists who combined New Zealandimagery with traditional Christ imagery. They draw on the post – modern secular artworld as much as the traditions and forms of the ecclesiastical world. As O’Gradysays, mages of Christ have: “(t)hrough the centuries … inspired … (Christians) … ,and … (have) continued to invite newresponses in artistic form. (They are a) reminder that Christian believers from every generation and allcultures are being led to express their own confession of Christ.”3He also points out, most people think of an image, of an embodiment, rather thanwords from a sacred text when thinking of Christ.4 An art work has a power to bring the intangible within or realm ofunderstanding in our highly visual culture.5 Images of Christ, artistic theology, areconstructed to encode teachings and modes of worship.6 They interact with thebeholder and are reinterpreted in light of the beliefs, desires, needs, and projections ofthe viewers.7 This is a “Visual Culture” way of looking at both sides of an artwork, itsproduction and reception.8 The “interaction between audience, image, and often3 Ron O’Grady (ed) “Introduction” Christ for All People, Celebrating a World of Christian Art.(Auckland: Pace, 2001) p 74 Ibid p 275 Aidan Nichols O.P. “Preface” The Art of God Incarnate, Theology and Image in Christian Tradition(London: Darton, Longman and Todd, 1980) p 16 John A. Walker, Sarah Chaplin “The Concept of ‘the Visual’ “ (chpt 2) Visual Culture, AnIntroduction (New York, Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1997 ) pp 27 – 287 David Freedberg (in) David Freedberg, Oleg Grabar, Anne Higonnet ,Cecelia F. Klein, Lisa Tickner,Anthony Vidler “The Object of Art History” The Art Bulletin 76:3 (Sept, 94) pp 394 / 3958 S. Brent Plate (ed) “Section Two Icon: The Image of Jesus Christ and Christian Theology” (in)Religion, Art, And Visual Culture, a cross cultural reader (New York: Palgrave, 2002) pp 54 – 55 3
  4. 4. setting”,9 is where the sacred and the profane meet.10 It is a space where the spiritualand the material world are perceived to come together.11 This sacred space where“layers of meaning”12 are made between physical image and viewer is a key factor inthe power of images of Christ. As the American Christian Painter Daniel Bonnellsays, “My work is only completed by the viewer”.13 He sees his paintings as, “tools toa deeper devotion with the Christ.”14 Art is a language that can “help us to make senseof the faith … (in) Christ, who is central to Christianity.”15Early New Zealand, settler communities and stained glass. Most colonists were adherents of Christianity to one degree or another.16 Theysought to replicate the ritual and imagery of the faith of the homeland, withoutreplicating the political connections and control over daily life and faith of Englandand Europe.17 The need for a spiritual centre for settlers and a connection to the9 Leslie Brubaker “Conclusion, Image, Audience, and Place: Interaction and Reproduction” (in) (Eds)Robert Ousterhout, Leslie Brubaker, The Sacred Image East and West (Urbana, Chicago: University ofIllinois Press, 1995) p20510 S. Brent Plate (ed) “Section Two Icon: The Image of Jesus Christ and Christian Theology” (in)Religion, Art, And Visual Culture, a cross cultural reader (New York: Palgrave, 2002) p 6011 Alan Morinis (ed) Sacred Journeys: The Anthropology of Pilgrimage (Connecticut, London:Greenwood press, 1992) p 412 Leslie Brubaker “Conclusion, Image, Audience, and Place: Interaction and Reproduction” (in) (Eds)Robert Ousterhout, Leslie Brubaker, The Sacred Image East and West (Urbana, Chicago: University ofIllinois Press, 1995) p20513 Daniel Bonnell, Returning Art to the Church, Images on Christ Project :http://iconproject.com/artist.php accessed 08 Feb 200914 Ibid15 Aidan Nichols O.P. “Preface” The Art of God Incarnate, Theology and Image in Christian Tradition(London: Darton, Longman and Todd, 1980) pp 1 – 216 Ian Breward “Conclusion” Oxford History of the Christian Church, A History of the Church inAustralasia (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001) p 42417 Geoffrey Thornton, Worship in the Wilderness, Early Country Churches of New Zealand (Auckland:Reed, 2003) p 10 4
  5. 5. religion of the English and European Christianity they had come from is attested to bythe number of churches, and the imagery they house, built in the then harsh ruralcountry areas of New Zealand. That the reception of these images and teachingswithin “sacredly charged space, (which) provide(s) a complex symbolic arena withinwhich social identities and forms of knowledge were displayed, negotiated andreproduced”,18 is important is shown by the large number of churches. In theChristianity that came to New Zealand with missionaries, settlers, and pioneers,images of Christ were primarily in stained glass, alongside some sculptural andpainted imagery. Stained glass windows were produced, and reproduced, primarily toteach the faithful.19 It was the religious art that showed gospel stories in times of fewor no books, and limited literacy. Churches were “the ‘books of the layman’”.20 Eadeand Sallnow’s idea of looking at a sacred site through the concepts of: person (JesusChrist), text (the New Testament) and place (church), is a way to look at thesedevotional practices.21 The production and importation of this imagery would havebeen primarily under church control. The selection would have been used to supporttheir agenda of bringing Christ and Christianity to the new land to teach theindigenous population and replicate the Euro-centric Christianity of the earlypioneers. Thornton says the early settlers were such a mixed and diverse group thatmissionary work did not find initial acceptance, but this did not stop Christianityspread to all sectors of 1800s New Zealand.22 Maori had had contact with all the18 Simon Coleman and John Elsner, “The Pilgrims Progress: Art, Architecture and Ritual Movement atSinai” World Archeology 26:1 (June 94) p 7519 Hilary Brand, Adrienne Chaplin “Art and the Quest for the Spiritual” (chpt 2) Art and Soul,Signposts for Christians in the Arts, ( Carlisle, Illinois: Piquant Editions, and Intervarsity Press, 2007)p 1620 Hilary Brand, Adrienne Chaplin “Art and a Suspicious Church” (chpt 3) Art and Soul, Signposts forChristians in the Arts, ( Carlisle, Illinois: Piquant Editions, and Intervarsity Press, 2007) p 2721 John Eade, Michael Sallnow (eds) Contesting the Sacred, The Anthropology of Christian Pilgrimage(London, New York : Routledge, 1991) p 922 Geoffrey Thornton, Worship in the Wilderness, Early Country Churches of New Zealand (Auckland:Reed, 2003) p 9 5
  6. 6. denominations of Christian missionary. It was largely the power of learning theEnglish language, and what it could do for them in terms of trade, that attracted Maorito the missionaries. This focus of the power of language rather than Christian beliefdid not alter the fact that, as Johnston writes: “the missionaries’ message held logical contradictions, for example, proclaiming one God butpromoting a variety of competing denominations. Such intellectual doubts, combined with the inabilityof the missions to prevent widespread confiscation of land, led to a rejection of Pakeha Christianity andthe establishment of new Maori versions of it”23 In a book on one of the architects responsible for many of the churches we haveboth in cities and the country of New Zealand, there is an image of a seeminglyfreshly built church surrounded by recently felled trees. This house of God appearingto have been built alongside the first clearing of the land by settlers suggests theimportance to, and the determination of, the settlers and missionaries to create thesesvessels of their own faith to allow the teaching and ritual practices, that often centredaround an image of Christ, to continue in the new land.(fig1)24 The, mostly British,early settlers still wanted “to establish a familiar Church in their new homeland, butwithout the English connection to the state.”25 Despite this desire to keep faithseparate from politics, the political and ecclesiastical elites that developed in earlyNew Zealand exercised power through shaping much of daily and most of ritual lifeof the colonists.26 Part of these elite was Samuel Marsden’s Anglican Church23 Alexa M Johnston,. “Christianity in New Zealand Art” (in) Headlands, Thinking Through NewZealand Art (ed) Marry Barr (Sydney: Museum of Contemporary Art, 1992) p 10024 Susan Maclean, Architect of the Angels, The Churches of Frederick De Jersey Clere (Wellington:Steele Roberts, 2003) p 5425 Brian James Thomas, Christchurch Cathedral New Zealand (1946) p 3126 Ian Breward “Conclusion” Oxford History of the Christian Church, A History of the Church inAustralasia (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001) p 424 6
  7. 7. Missionary Society (CSM), first arriving in New Zealand in 1814.27 This EvangelicalProtestant form of Christianity was fairly iconoclastic, which was one reason for thepaucity of imagery in early New Zealand Christianity. The CSM did establish a linkbetween church and political control as that was an accepted part of the Anglicanway.28 Anglicanism and politics were close in the old country, and continued to be asmuch as possible so in the new country. Methodist, Presbyterian, Lutheran, Catholic,and other forms of Christian missionary movements and church groups followed overthe next 20 or so years. All added to the diversity of imagery, teaching and ritualpractice in the “denominational and sectarian” Christian landscape of early NewZealand.29 British and European forms of Christianity made a huge impact on the earlydevelopment of New Zealand; missionary contact with Maori also left a legacy. Thislegacy of a form of Christianity that was seen as fully Christian, but fully Maori wasaided by Roman Catholic Christianity, which arrived some 20 years after ProtestantChristianity. Davidson says that Catholicism was more icon and image centred,allowing a more “syncretic Maori Christianity” to form from elements of churchcontrolled imported doctrine and imagery as well as indigenous Maori belief andimagery.30 These Maori Christianities produced their own systems and images.Johnston shows examples of Maori Christian imagery dating from 1890 and 1840respectively. The first is a woven tukutuku image of a cross, the second is a Madonna27 Allan Davidson Christianity in Aotearoa, A History of Church and Society in New Zealand (3rd ed)(Anglican Theological Education by Extension Unit) pp 1 - 528 Ibid pp 2 - 629 Ibid pp 7, 16, 5030 Allan Davidson Christianity in Aoteroa, A History of Church and Society in New Zealand (3rd ed)(Anglican Theological Education by Extension Unit) pp 15 -16 7
  8. 8. and Christ Child in the style of a traditional tekoteko (carved figure). (fig2)31 TheMaori Madonna and Christ Child can be seen as a unification of spiritualities and away for Maori to make Christian imagery there own in the tumultuous time of contactwith Christian missionaries and settlers. This is an early example of the production ofan image of Christ which is fused with indigenous New Zealand art. The fact it wasrejected as pagan by the church it was originally gifted to shows the time was notright for the reception of such a radical thing a Maori Christ image.32Thisappropriation of Christianity and its images and texts, and using them as a way ofdefining Maori spirituality as opposed to Pakeha Christianity is somewhat akin to TheVirgin of Guadalupe in Mexico. The situation was different in early New Zealand; thewars over land were not to come until the 1860s, some 45 years after missionarycontact, whereas in Mexico the missionaries came with the soldiers. For theindigenous population of Mexico, Harrington says Guadalupe was a way for them towrest back some control of their world taken from them by Spain.33 Spanish decedentsand peoples of mixed blood born in the New World aspired to create a new nation(Mexico) out of the colony of New Spain used Guadalupe as a symbol. Guadalupe, asa syncretic deity, was like them part Spanish and part Indian, and became a nationalsymbol to unite people to the cause of nation building.3431 Alexa Johnston, M. “Christianity in New Zealand Art” (in) Headlands, Thinking Through NewZealand Art (ed) Marry Barr (Sydney: Museum of Contemporary Art, 1992) p 10032 Ibid p 10033 Patricia Harrington “Mother of Death, Mother of Rebirth: The Mexican Virgin of Guadalupe”Journal of the American Academy of Religion 56:1 (Spring,88) 2634 Jeanette Favrot Peterson “The Virgin of Guadalupe: Symbol of Conquest or Liberation?” Art Journal51:4 (Winter 92) 40 8
  9. 9. The 1830s and 1840s were a time of settler influx to New Zealand, and anunparalleled population movement from the old to the new world in general.35 Thispopulation change, the 1840 treaty of Waitangi, followed by the land wars of the1860s; meant Maori and Pakeha continued to have divergent agendas for some longtime to come, so too Maori and Pakeha Christianities.36 There was, however, alwayssome cross over of ideas and imagery. Many years on from early contact betweenindigenous and colonial peoples, there has been a more explicit recognition of MaoriChristian imagery. An example was the 1999 Maori Christian Art exhibition at thecathedral of the Sacred Heart in Wellington,37 which includes reference to the MaoriMadonna and child carving. This exhibition also contained paintings by Julia B.Lynch (1896 – 1975), also known also as Sister Mary Lawrence. The paintings in thecatalogue are of The Young Christ and The Risen Christ. In both works Christ isdepicted as Maori,38 although they more resemble traditional stained glass windowiconography and images of her time rather than anything as radical or un-Eurocentricas the carved Madonna and Child. These are some of the few depictions of a MaoriChrist by a known artist in a catalogue, let alone in an ecclesiastical space like acathedral. Another Maori Christ is a stained glass window, the Sacred Heart of Jesus,in a Catholic Church in Waihi Village, Lake Taupo.39 Like Lynch’s paintings thisimage also conforms to standard stained glass iconography, a haloed Christ lookingfull frontally out at the viewer, but with Maori features and colouring.35 Paul Hudson, “English Emigration to New Zealand, 1839 – 1850: Information Diffusion andMarketing a New World” The Economic History Review, 54:4 (Nov, 01) pp36 Allan Davidson Christianity in Aoteroa, A History of Church and Society in New Zealand (3rd ed)(Anglican Theological Education by Extension Unit) pp 16 - 183738 Catalogue “Maori Christian Art” March 28 – April 4 1999, Sacred Heart cathedral Wellington39 Marist Messenger (Aug: 07), inside cover 9
  10. 10. Stained glass windows were produced mostly as a way to teach the faithful.40They are an art form that portrays the approved story of the life of Christ to churchgoers.41 The earliest British and European representations of Christ in New Zealandare primarily stained glass and some sculpture in churches, mostly dating from afterthe 1840s immigration surge. Many of the churches housing these images were rebuiltseveral times on the same site. Some of them retained original stained glass throughphases of reconstruction; others have numerous artistic and architectural additions.The earliest windows were imports, presenting only values and images of the oldworld. One example is in the church of The Holy Passion in Amberley is Canterbury, 42New Zealand, that replicates imagery found in windows in Canterbury Cathedral,Kent, England.43 Much of this information comes from Fiona Ciaran’s extensivecatalogue of the stained glass of Canterbury churches.44 According to Ciaran, theearliest stained glass windows installed in this part of New Zealand is a GuardianAngel, one of a series of windows put into the Barbados Street Cemetery Chapel in1863.45 A later window in this series, The Risen Christ (fig3) was installed in1868.46This Risen Christ image is one of the earliest dateable images of Christ still inexistence in New Zealand. It is of a haloed, beared white man in three quarter profile.This is somewhat unusual as a full frontal representation with halo predominated atthat time. The facing forward looking out style of Christ image common in that timewas a way of depicting Christ that can be traced back to early Christianity. Temple40 Hilary Brand, Adrienne Chaplin “Art and the Quest for the Spiritual” (chpt 2) Art and Soul,Signposts for Christians in the Arts, ( Carlisle, Illinois: Piquant Editions, and Intervarsity Press, 2007)p 1641 Hilary Brand, Adrienne Chaplin “Art and a Suspicious Church” (chpt 3) Art and Soul, Signposts forChristians in the Arts, ( Carlisle, Illinois: Piquant Editions, and Intervarsity Press, 2007) p 2742 Fiona Ciaran, Stained Glass Windows of Canterbury, New Zealand (Dunedin: University of OtagoPress, 1998) p 3043 Fiona Ciaran, Stained Glass Windows of Canterbury, New Zealand (Dunedin: University of OtagoPress, 1998) p 3344 Fiona Ciaran, Stained Glass Windows of Canterbury, New Zealand (Dunedin: University of OtagoPress, 1998)45 Ibid p 2946 Ibid p 89 10
  11. 11. writes of The Sinai Christ, an icon painted in around AD 600.47 This icon is one ofthe earliest of its kind, and it influenced both Eastern icons and Western Christ imagesacross many media, including stained glass. The Sinai Christ has the halo with crossthat was one of the markers of Christ’s special holiness. This too dates from early inthe Christian era, originating around AD 400 and persisting into Gothic art in the 18thand 19th centuries.48 It is only natural then that The Risen Christ in Canterbury shouldhave this, as much early New Zealand imagery was Gothic Revival, a style popular inthe mid 1800s. Another feature originating around 500 years after Christ, that hasremained fairly consistent, was the depicting of Christ as bearded and long haired.Porter links this to the influence the bearded images of Christ in the acheiropoietic, ornot man made images, of the Veil that Veronica used to wipe Christs face, theMandylion, and the Shroud of Turin had on artists in early Christianity supplantingvery early clean shaven Christ imagery.49 The Sinai image is not too dissimilar tomany haloed Christ’s looking out at the viewer, a style which persists down the ages. In a similar style to The Risen Christ, the Holy Trinity Church in Littleton has alarge three panel window, The Risen Christ with St Peter, St Paul and St John theBaptist, c.1865.(fig4)50 These two windows and The Pieta in the church of The HolyPassion in Amberley, 1864 – 65 (fig5), 51 are in the Gothic Revival style. They drawfrom English and French influences and having essentially no New Zealand input.47 Richard Temple “The Sinai Christ” (chpt 9) Icons and the Mystical Origins of Christianity (Dorset:Element Books, 1990) pp 92 – 9348 J. R. Porter, “Jesus in Art” (chpt 5) Jesus Christ, The Jesus of History, The Christ of Faith (London:Duncan Baird. 1994) pp 208 – 20949 J. R. Porter, “Jesus in Art” (chpt 5) Jesus Christ, The Jesus of History, The Christ of Faith (London:Duncan Baird. 1994) p 21450 Fiona Ciaran, Stained Glass Windows of Canterbury, New Zealand (Dunedin: University of OtagoPress, 1998) p 9351 Fiona Ciaran, Stained Glass Windows of Canterbury, New Zealand (Dunedin: University of OtagoPress, 1998) p 33 11
  12. 12. These kinds of images in churches are traditionally illustrative of gospel stories, or areimages of Christ’s celestial power.52 The Pieta is an image of Christ just taken downfrom the cross before he has risen. It is an image that teaches a piety of care for thesuffering Christ, owing its inspiration to a traditional depiction of Christ, the Stationsof the Cross.53 The Pieta in Canterbury, New Zealand, has some imagery in commonwith windows in Canterbury Cathedral, Kent, England.54 This demonstrates a linkbetween the established imagery from the home countries and the imagery the churchselected for churches in New Zealand. These images of Christ from the old countrieswould reinforce the link to the Christian traditions of Europe and England,maintaining a connection to, and spiritual authority from, the old world in thecolonised new world of pioneer New Zealand. Also, all three windows were designedand made by London firms. There is a progression of different eras of imagery ofChrist in early New Zealand stained glass, and church art, coming with the variousdenominations and waves of migration.55 In Canterbury, and New Zealand in general,these eras are initially Gothic Revival of the early churches, to Art and CraftsMovement in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, to the work of contemporary artistsin both ecclesiastical and secular image production and display.56 St John the Evangelist church in the Canterbury area was built by a wealthylandowner to be “the spiritual focus of the community” he wanted to build for his52 Heather Child, Dorothy Colles Christian Symbols, Ancient and Modern (London: G. Bell and Sons,1971) p 6453 Ibid p 7454 Fiona Ciaran, Stained Glass Windows of Canterbury, New Zealand (Dunedin: University of OtagoPress, 1998) p 3055 Allan Davidson Christianity in Aoteroa, A History of Church and Society in New Zealand (3rd ed)(Anglican Theological Education by Extension Unit) pp 30 - 5056 Fiona Ciaran, Stained Glass Windows of Canterbury, New Zealand (Dunedin: University of OtagoPress, 1998) pp 23 - 41 12
  13. 13. employees.57 Thornton writes of how John Cathcart Wason planted trees, made a towncentre to create a functional village environment, while deliberately having the churchas a main focus of the settlement, showing again how important a sacred space forritual, worship, and, the teaching of Christianity through texts and images was to theearly settlers.58 This small country church was finished in 1877, and consecrated in1882. The main image of Christ is a stained glass window of Christ The GoodShepherd. The Good Shepherd is a traditional image with a long history. It is an earlyChristian image of caring and salvation. Child and Colles write of it being one of anumber of images found in one of the earliest known Christian churches, the church“at Dura Europos dating from around AD 230”.59 Early Good shepherd images werebeardless, but became bearded as most Christ imagery did after around the middle ofthe first millennium. A church of a similar era to St John the Evangelist is StMichael’s Anglican church in the Nelson region. It was originally built in 1842 bylocal land owners.60 The original was, Wells says one of the first Anglican churches inNelson, and possibly the South Island.61 The second version, built in 1866 has awindow of The Ascending Christ, with his upraised arms and attendant angles;62 this issimilar to other “Ascension” images in Ciaran’s survey of windows in Canterburychurches.63 The St Michael’s window was a later addition that was designed in NewZealand, but manufactured in England in the 1920s. It has some New Zealandinspiration in its iconography but is still a design and a physical product of the old57 Geoffrey Thornton, Worship in the Wilderness, Early Country Churches of New Zealand (Auckland:Reed, 2003) p 11858 Geoffrey Thornton, Worship in the Wilderness, Early Country Churches of New Zealand (Auckland:Reed, 2003) pp 118 – 11959 Heather Child, Dorothy Colles Christian Symbols, Ancient and Modern (London: G. Bell and Sons,1971) p 10660 Annette Wells, Nelson’s Historic Country Churches (Nikau Press, 2003) p2361 Annette Wells, Nelson’s Historic Country Churches (Nikau Press, 2003) p2362 Heather Child, Dorothy Colles Christian Symbols, Ancient and Modern (London: G. Bell and Sons,1971) p 8163 Fiona Ciaran, Stained Glass Windows of Canterbury, New Zealand (Dunedin: University of OtagoPress, 1998) p 214 13
  14. 14. countries. There was some shift by this time to New Zealand design of images ofChrist to be used in churches in New Zealand. Wells writes of another church in the Nelson area and its imagery with a lifespansimilar to St John the Evangelist’s and St Michael’s. This is the Lutheran church of StJohn. This church contains a centrally placed crucifix that is unusual in having itshead to the left, rather than the more traditional right. 64 Sculptural images like this areless prominent than stained glass windows in most church imagery. Carvings andmetal work are often seen as a lesser art form, “on the boundaries of craft art and fineart and as such tend not to be as written about as often as paintings and stained glass.65Despite this fact, they are often central to altars, which are a main focus of ritual andteaching in Christian churches. Sculptural works are primarily crucifixes whichgenerally portray Christ upon the cross, bearded slim and pain wracked. There areexamples where a crucifix stained glass image, rather than a sculpture, is a centralfocus. One example is: the church of St John the Evangelist near Marton in the lowerNorth Island,66 designed by Frederick de Jersey Clere, who was known as a builder ofchurches mostly in the North Island from the 1880s till near his death in 1952.67 Thewindow is placed centrally behind the altar, or sanctuary end of the church, elevatedand within an architectural structure that focuses the gaze upon the crucified Christ.As with many windows and sculptures, its placement suggests its power as much asthe text it refers to, or the fact that it is an image of the person of Jesus Christ. Old64 Annette Wells, Nelson’s Historic Country Churches (Nikau Press, 2003) pp 55 - 5865 Mark, Stocker Angels and Roses, The art of Fredrick George Gurnsey (Christchurch: CanterburyUniversity Press, 1997) p 1266 Geoffrey Thornton, Worship in the Wilderness, Early Country Churches of New Zealand (Auckland:Reed, 2003) pp 93 – 9667 Susan Maclean, Architect of the Angels, The Churches of Frederick De Jersey Clere (Wellington:Steele Roberts, 2003) pp 7 - 27 14
  15. 15. Saint Paul’s in Wellington also has a Christ Crucified window as its main focus in itssanctuary.68 The Crucifixion image of Christ is a traditional image. It dates from amedieval form of piety reflecting a relationship to Christ that focuses more on hissuffering as his way to redeem humanity, than on the more caring, nurturingredemption of the Good Shepherd and The Ascending Christ imagery.69 Stained glassimagery of Christ has always been a central focus of the physical church in or near itscentral altar. This applies to the crucifix, whether sculptural or two dimensional, aswell. Both are tangible markers of the sacred. They convey the idea that here is theplace of Christ, the place to commune with the divine. The crucifix, while present in the Anglican churches of Nelson, does not seem tobe a central focus as it does in the Lutheran churches, and even more so in theCatholic churches. Troughton says the crucifix was a “principle ornament” in Catholicchurches, and that this devotion to Jesus’ suffering was central to Catholicunderstanding of Christ’s message.70 In the Catholic approach to images of Christ anemphasis on the sacrifice and suffering of Christ, which was how he showed his lovefor humanity was taught. Revering depictions of the Crucifixion and similar imagerywas seen as the correct way to engage with images of Christ. Another ubiquitousCatholic image is the Sacred Heart of Christ. This is an image where he bares thesymbolic heart / cross / fire symbol on his chest, which represents the spirit of Christslove.71 The Sacred Heart image has been in New Zealand as long as Catholics have.Bishop Pompallier, celebrated the first Catholic mass in New Zealand in January68 Inner cover, Heritage New Zealand 102 (Spring 06)69 Heather Child, Dorothy Colles Christian Symbols, Ancient and Modern (London: G. Bell and Sons,1971) pp 74 – 7570 Geoffrey Troughton, Jesus in New Zealand c. 1900 – 1940, Thesis (Massey University, 2007) pp 44 -4671 Geoffrey Troughton, Jesus in New Zealand c. 1900 – 1940, Thesis (Massey University, 2007) p 46 15
  16. 16. 1838. One panel of his “travelling alter” was a depiction of the Sacred Heart ofChrist.72 The first Catholic church in Murchison, St Peter Chanel’s,73 has a picture ofJesus with the flaming Sacred Heart, next to a silver and wood crucifix atop a carvedwooden alter, as its central focus.74 These and other artworks in the church of St PeterChanel’s, such as a statue of Mary standing on a serpent, “using her good to stop thespread of evil”, show the more iconic and complex nature of Catholic imagery. Thereception of Catholic imagery depended to a large extent upon being taught to readthe images, to get the full message in them. This is more so in Catholic than Protestantimagery.75 The interplay between viewer and physical art work tends to be a moreovert thing in a Catholic setting. Catholicism’s richer iconographic tradition are alegacy of their long history reaching from the fall of Rome till around the 16th centuryand the rise of the more iconoclastic Protestant traditions.76Catholicism’s more userfriendly approach to imagery meant there was always more imagery of Christ in theirearly churches. This kataphatic tradition of Catholicism,77 the using of images asanalogies to teach the faithful how to relate to Christ, holds to a large degree up tocontemporary times. Another church of a similar era to St Michael’s and St John’s in the Nelson areais the Lutheran church of St Paul’s. St Paul’s has a crucifix centrally placed on itsaltar, this one with head to the right; it also contains a celebrated painted image of72 Michael King, Gods Farthest Outpost, A History of Catholics in New Zealand (Aucklan: Viking,1997) p 4673 Annette Wells, Nelson’s Historic Country Churches (Nikau Press, 2003) pp 157 - 16074 Ibid pp 159 - 16075 Ibid pp 159 - 16076 Hilary Brand, Adrienne Chaplin “Art and a Suspicious Church” (chpt 3) Art and Soul, Signposts forChristians in the Arts, ( Carlisle, Illinois: Piquant Editions, and Intervarsity Press, 2007) p 2777 Barbara Mujica,” Beyond Image: The Apophatic-Kataphatic Dialectic in Teresa de Avila” Hispania84: 4 (Dec: 01) p 741 16
  17. 17. Christ.78 The painting is the Crown of Thorns, 1875 by Gottfried Lindauer (1839 –1926). Lindauer came to New Zealand in 1873 and is best known for his accuraterenderings of Maori life in his time.79 Before coming to New Zealand he was a painterof religious themes for Catholic churches in Poland and Russia.80 His Crown ofThorns and his association with things Maori and New Zealand in general are aprecursor of sorts to McCahon and Fomison in their associations of Christ with thingsnative to New Zealand. The Crown of Thorns painting is akin to the harsher, piety ofthe Crucifixion. The Crown of Thorns is a treasured possession of the church, and wasat one time a central image of devotion to parishioners. (fig6)81 The painting of theperson of Christ in his suffering is an illustration of “the telling of … (a) …gospelstory”,82 sited within the vessel of the sacred, a church. It is where worshiper andimage come together. This way of looking at the person of Christ and the text itdepicts to teach the viewer and the place it is shown are factors in the power accordedto Lindauer’s work,83 and as I will argue so to in The Light of the World’s success as areligious icon. This work shows the idea that, producers of images often have specificagendas to promote through images of Christ, but that those messages are received ina variety ways some intended some not.The Light of the World and 20th century stained glass.78 Annette Wells, Nelson’s Historic Country Churches (Nikau Press, 2003) pp 59 - 6479 Stewart Bell MacLennan,http://www.teara.govt.nz/1966/L/LindauerGottfriedOrBohumir/LindauerGottfriedOrBohumir/enaccessed 24 May 0980 Bernard John Foster,http://www.teara.govt.nz/1966/L/LindauerGottfriedOrBohumir/LindauerGottfriedOrBohumir/enaccessed 24 May 0981 Annette Wells, Nelson’s Historic Country Churches (Nikau Press, 2003) pp 63 - 6482 Hilary Brand, Adrienne Chaplin “Art and the Quest for the Spiritual” (chpt 2) Art and Soul,Signposts for Christians in the Arts, ( Carlisle, Illinois: Piquant Editions, and Intervarsity Press, 2007)p 1683 John Eade, Michael Sallnow (eds) Contesting the Sacred, The Anthropology of Christian Pilgrimage(London, New York : Routledge, 1991) p 9 17
  18. 18. The Light of the World’s message was intended to be both a religious, and aDurkheimian “social unifier and moral regenerator”84 from the Protestant home landsto the colonies.85 The Light of the World (fig7), and its subsequent use in stained glasswindows, post cards, newspaper reproductions,86 etc is a good example of a Christimage of its time that was produced with a specific agenda, was received andresponded to as intended by some, but not all. It shows how the teaching agenda ofthe work, and the ritual like viewing of it, helped create the sacredness accorded to itby many.87 It was an image that engendered social and religious identity negotiationakin to the process of contestation Eade and Sallnow describe for sacred spaces(which are often themselves vessels for sacred images). They say: “the sacred powersof a shrine are constructed as varied and possibly conflicting representations by thedifferent sectors of the cultic constituency as well as those outside it.”88 The Light ofthe World had an effect on its intended constituency, as well as the culture in general,both as an artwork that toured New Zealand just over 100 years ago as well asreproductions that permeate the landscape of Christian imagery in New Zealand to thepresent day.84 John Eade, Michael Sallnow (eds) Contesting the Sacred, The Anthropology of Christian Pilgrimage(London, New York : Routledge, 1991) p 385 Geoffrey Troughton. ‘The Light of the World’ At the end of the World, 1906 The Journal of NewZealand Art History 28 (2007) p 586 Ibid p 1287 Geoffrey Troughton. ‘The Light of the World’ At the end of the World, 1906 The Journal of NewZealand Art History 28 (2007) pp 1-288 John Eade, Michael Sallnow (eds) Contesting the Sacred, The Anthropology of Christian Pilgrimage(London, New York : Routledge, 1991) p 5 18
  19. 19. The painting was billed as both a masterwork of British, “great art”, and a“sermon in oils”.89 Holman Hunt was a Pre-Raphaelite painter, and the work had theidealisation and “commitment to meaningful art” that the Pre-Raphaelites espoused asbeing the only “good art”.90 This is akin to Romanticism’s focus on the “holy’, ormeaningful, in humanity and nature.91 Both idealised humanity and nature feature inthe image. Others saw The Light of the World more as an example of “mawkishpiety”,92 being too idealised. The image was legitimated before it arrived in NewZealand by both Ruskin’s famous letter to the Times lauding the work,93 and the ideaof the time that British art was “inherently superior”.94 Keith writes of the 1906 – 07Christchurch International Exhibition, where The Light of the World was exhibited forits longest stretch in New Zealand, as one of the markers of when the buying ofprimarily British art was cemented in the early gallery and museum culture of NewZealand.95 These artistic institutions, as The Light of the World’s showing in halls andgalleries demonstrated, would become places where images of Christ would be seen,almost as much as churches. Up until the mid to late1900s it was primarily Britishimagery like The Light of the World that was seen, until this dominance waschallenged by New Zealand artists.89 Geoffrey Troughton. ‘The Light of the World’ At the end of the World, 1906 The Journal of NewZealand Art History 28 (2007) pp 4, 1090 Ibid p 291 Hilary Brand, Adrienne Chaplin “Art and the Quest for the Spiritual” (chpt 2) Art and Soul,Signposts for Christians in the Arts, ( Carlisle, Illinois: Piquant Editions, and Intervarsity Press, 2007)pp 17 - 2092 Geoffrey Troughton. ‘The Light of the World’ At the end of the World, 1906 The Journal of NewZealand Art History 28 (2007) p 793 Mark Roskill “Hollman Hunt’s Differing versions of the “Light of the World” Victorian Studies 6: 3(Mar, 63) p23594 Geoffrey Troughton. ‘The Light of the World’ At the end of the World, 1906 The Journal of NewZealand Art History 28 (2007) p 495 Hamish Keith, The Big Picture, A History of New Zealand art from 1642 (Auckland: Random House,2007) p 96 19
  20. 20. The figure of Christ looks remarkably like the painter himself in the first twoversions of The Light of the World, of 1851 - 53 and 1857.96 Consciously orunconsciously he seems to be making Christ in his own image. The paintings werespurred, in the first instance, by Hunt’s “religious awakening or conversion”,97 so itseems only natural he would place something of himself in his image. The thirdversion that came to New Zealand seems to resemble the artist less than the first two.This last version of the work, produced near the end of the artists life, was made moreto be “accessible to the public at large”, rather than as a statement of personal piety.This is possibly why it resembles the artist less than the first two paintings. Christ wasstill depicted as white, bearded, and radiant, a perfect human male, idealised, andmarked as divine in many ways. The Christ in this image is haloed, robed, emanatingdivine light and love. The Light of the World was a visual presentation of a humanChrist, but still an idealised Christ, not to dissimilar to the beatific risen Christ’s ofearlier stained glass windows.98 Temple says external sources of light represent theinner / divine light, a concept so taken for granted that it is more a visual cliché orconvention than an emblem of divinity.99 Light and light sources were often used toindicate the grace of divinity in Christian artwork.100 This seems to be the case inHunt’s work. The lamp and the glow it casts as the Christ figure knocks on the door ofthe human is integral to the image.96 Mark Roskill “Hollman Hunt’s Differing versions of the “Light of the World” Victorian Studies 6: 3(Mar, 63) fig1 and fig297 Geoffrey Troughton. ‘The Light of the World’ At the end of the World, 1906 The Journal of NewZealand Art History 28 (2007) p 298 Mark Roskill “Hollman Hunt’s Differing versions of the “Light of the World” Victorian Studies 6: 3(Mar, 63) p 23899 Richard Temple “The Sinai Mother of God: an Image of Celestial Light and Spiritual War” (chpt 10)Icons and the Mystical Origins of Christianity (Dorset: Element Books, 1990) pp 98 - 99100 Alexa M. Johnston “God talk – McCahon and Theology” (in) Colin McCahon, Gates and Journeys(Auckland: Academy Press, 1988) pp 64 - 65 20
  21. 21. This image was of a Christ freed somewhat of tradition, but still linked toscriptural legitimacy.101 The painting drew its imagery from Revelation 3:20, so itstextual link was obvious to the faithful.102 As well as this teaching of scripture, it wasintended to be of a personal Jesus for all individuals. This appealed to the largelyprotestant Christianity of New Zealand, with its focus on individual religiousexperience, rather than on the communal worship within a vessel like a church.103Protestant piety was more centred on individual’s relationship to Christ, so this kindof “human Christ” of The Light of the World appealed more to ProtestantChristians.104 A communal form of worship would have been more the norm in settlertimes amongst most believers. Amongst the Catholic form of Christianity in the early1900s, communal worship would still have been the norm as communal piety wasemphasised in Catholicism. The human Christ or Son of Man fitted the trends ofhumanism and Darwinianism at the time, with its focus on individual knowing andindividual relating to the world.105 O’Grady says the changes and loosening of socialbonds in the secularisation and industrialisation of the 19th and 20th centuries led artiststo depict a Christ who the people could identify with, a human Christ.106 This Jesus, asmanifested in Hunt’s image, was no pioneer, nor social reformer, nor Christ on thecross suffering for humanity, but a “gentle, pleading saviour seeking redemption andreconciliation” in the domain of the middle class.107 Early 1900s New Zealand was a101 Stephen Prohero, American Jesus, How the Son of God Became a National Icon, (New York: Farrar,Straus and Giroux, 2003) pp 11 -13102 Geoffrey Troughton. ‘The Light of the World’ At the end of the World, 1906 The Journal of NewZealand Art History 28 (2007) pp 10 - 11103 Geoffrey Troughton. ‘The Light of the World’ At the end of the World, 1906 The Journal of NewZealand Art History 28 (2007) p 11104 Ian Breward “Conclusion”Oxford History of the Christian Church, A History of the Church inAustralasia (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001) p 425105 Stephen Prohero, American Jesus, How the Son of God Became a National Icon, (New York: Farrar,Straus and Giroux, 2003) pp 11 -13106 Ron O’Grady (ed) Christ for All People, Celebrating a World of Christian Art. (Auckland: Pace,2001) p 25107 Geoffrey Troughton. ‘The Light of the World’ At the end of the World, 1906 The Journal of NewZealand Art History 28 (2007) p 8 21
  22. 22. time of change, secularisation, urbanisation, industrialisation and moreimmigration.108 There was a rise in white collar work, and a reorganising of bluecollar labouring and farming work.109 The rise of a middle class would certainly allowmore people the leisure to go to an art exhibition for their religion, rather than just tochurches. The early settlers would likely have only had time to go to churches, andeven then most likely only on Sundays and special events, given the rigours of thepioneer life. Going to see The Light of the World, which came to colonial NewZealand from the mother country like a prophet, was akin to a pilgrimage for many.110Viewing such an image in galleries and halls was “for most … in some way areligious experience”. Of the comments recorded from the New Zealand tour, manyare of religious and spiritual uplift, showing its power as a piece of material piety.111 The sentimental piety of this image and the largely positive reception it receivedgave it great power and mystique as an icon. Dianna Hollman – Hunt describes hergrandfather’s work as “the ‘Protestant icon’ ... (e)ven during the Second World War.… (B)ut Van Gogh’s Sunflowers had taken over in the thirties … (from The Light ofthe World as) the most popular picture in the world after the Mona Lisa”.112 Noteveryone perceived the work and its message in such a rapturous manner in NewZealand. Most notably Wellington did not receive the “religious mission” of the tour108 Lloyd Geering, 2100: A Faith Odyssey. The Changing Face of Religion in New Zealand(Wellington: St Andrews Trust for the Study of Religion and Society, 1995) pp 15 – 18109 Errik Olsen, Tom Brooking, Brian Heenan, Hamish James, Bruce McLennan, Clyde Griffen “UrbanSociety and the Opportunity Structure in New Zealand, 1902-22: The Caversham Project” SocialHistory 24:1 (Jan, 99) pp 40 - 43110 David Freedberg, “Image and Pilgrimage” Chpt 6 (in) The Power of Images, Studies in the Historyand Theory of Response (Chicago, London: The University of Chicago Press, 1989) p 92111 Geoffrey Troughton. ‘The Light of the World’ At the end of the World, 1906 The Journal of NewZealand Art History 28 (2007) pp 6 - 11112 Dianna Hollman – Hunt “Introduction” Anne Clark Amor William Hollman Hunt, The True Pre –Raphaelite, (London: Constable, 1989) p 8 22
  23. 23. as well as other centres did. Wellington was regarded even in 1906 as a more secularcity than most in New Zealand.113 Auckland, Christchurch and Dunedin recorded hugeattendance rates at its showings in halls and galleries.114 This diversity of responseshowed the relaxed attitude to religious practice in New Zealand of the 1900s.115 Theveneration accorded the painting, despite the fact that not everybody saw it as animage of piety, showed that Jesus still had a central place in the culture of the time.116Jesus was still an important focus for: “popular religious sentiment and a locus ofmoral authority. Jesus was upheld as the archetype and symbol of true religion, andrepresented society’s yearning for all that was noble and true.”117 This dynamic seemsto have played out in The Light of the World’s time in New Zealand, as Morgan saysimages teach and “shape the thinking and feeling of those who use them by givingvisual presence to the institutional structures that configure the public and privateworlds in which they live”.118 Reception theory puts meaning making in the hands ofthe audience’s interpretation, rather than the creator’s intention.119 Both the intentionof the maker and reception of an audience still largely culturally Christian, isimportant in an image like The Light of the World. Troughton citing ColleenMcDannell in reference to the tour of Light of the World says “Protestant religiosityutilises material culture, despite its theologically ambivalent attitude toward it.”120 Thework was seen by its owner and the funder of tour, Charles Booth (1840 – 1916), and113 Geoffrey Troughton. ‘The Light of the World’ At the end of the World, 1906 The Journal of NewZealand Art History 28 (2007) p 6114 Ibid p 3115 Ibid p 12116 Geoffrey Troughton. ‘The Light of the World’ At the end of the World, 1906 The Journal of NewZealand Art History 28 (2007) p 12117 Ibid p 7118 David Morgan, Imaging Protestant Piety: The Icons of Warner Sallman Religion and AmericanCulture 3:1 (Winter, 93) p 30119 Jack Ayers Reception Theory, Literacy Theory Dr. David Jolliffehttp://jolliffereadingtheory.blogspot.com/2009/05/reception-theory.html Accessed 04 July 09120 Geoffrey Troughton. ‘The Light of the World’ At the end of the World, 1906 The Journal of NewZealand Art History 28 (2007) p 2 23
  24. 24. in much of the commentary on it its reception in New Zealand, as the exemplar ofBritish Protestantism that Hunt intended to be.121 The legacy of The Light of the World was seen then, and still to a degree today,in reproduction. Its popularity both in its homeland and New Zealand meant it waswidely reproduced in England and here in New Zealand.122 It is found within churchculture as stained glass windows. In stained glass, Ciaran’s catalogue lists seventeenwindows based on The Light of the World image.123 A number of these pair The Lightof the World image and The Good Shepherd image as windows, many beingmemorials to dead soldiers.124 The Good Shepherd images, she says were based onvarious different artists interpretations of this traditional image.125 These were mostlyfrom catalogues, mass produced images from England, Europe and Australia, andlater from studios in New Zealand. One of these paired Christ images is listed as thefirst New Zealand made window installed in Canterbury c.1897-98.126 The Light of theWorld of this pair would have been based on one of the two previous versions of thepainting, rather than the image that toured New Zealand.127 Churches in the NorthIsland, in Auckland and Cambridge had Light of the World windows installed fromthe late 1920s onwards.128 After World War One there was a general rise in the use ofthis image, alongside a rise in memorial windows.129 Ciaran says that the function of121 Ibid pp 4 -5122 Mike Harding, A little Book of Stained Glass (London: Atrum Press, 1998) p 30123 Geoffrey Troughton. ‘The Light of the World’ At the end of the World, 1906 The Journal of NewZealand Art History 28 (2007) p 12124 Fiona Ciaran, Stained Glass Windows of Canterbury, New Zealand (Dunedin: University of OtagoPress, 1998) pp 22, 35125 Ibid p 22126 Ibid p35127 Geoffrey Troughton. ‘The Light of the World’ At the end of the World, 1906 The Journal of NewZealand Art History 28 (2007) p 12128 Ibid p 12129 Ibid p 12 24
  25. 25. the windows in Canterbury, and nation wide, were commemorative as much asdevotional and educational.130 Images of Jesus Christ used to commemorate fallenheroes, founding fathers, wealthy patrons, etc, are a strong statement.131 Thiscommemorative function adds to the layers of meaning. In the space where suchimages are viewed, there is the acknowledgement of the hurts of war as well as thelayers of tradition of the window form, the iconography of Christ, and any text ormoral the image may be teaching. The Light of the World became one of the most recognisable, widely spread, anddeeply entrenched images in New Zealand religious material culture in its day.132 Thepower of reproduction is important in reception of images of Christ in the modernage, as it allows for mass dissemination of images and their messages. It allows thema life within ecclesiastical and secular worlds that pure original ecclesiastical art doesnot have. Ernest Shea’s postcards were a good example of this. They were widely soldand allowed the image to enter private houses, shops, etc. Major newspapers Like theCanterbury Times printed reproductions of the painting for mass consumption.133Brubaker writes that: “although “the sacred” is culturally defined, the participation ofthe audience creates its layers of meaning”.134 The Light of the World had theChristian symbology and multi layered connotations to its viewers that created a130 Fiona Ciaran, Stained Glass Windows of Canterbury, New Zealand (Dunedin: University of OtagoPress, 1998) p 22131 Michael W Jennings,. Brigid Doherty, Thomas Y Levin,. (eds) Walter Benjamin, The Work of Art inthe Age of its Technological Reproducibility and Other Writings on Media (Massachusetts, London:Belknap Press, 2008) p 15132 Geoffrey Troughton. ‘The Light of the World’ At the end of the World, 1906 The Journal of NewZealand Art History 28 (2007) p 11133 Ibid p 11134 Leslie Brubaker, “Conclusion, Image, Audience, and Place: Interaction and Reproduction” (chpt)11( eds) Robert Ousterhout, Leslie Brubaker, The Sacred Image East and West (Chicago: University ofIllinois Press, 1995) p 205 25
  26. 26. “sacredly charged” image. This image had a large impact on its many of its viewers.135Colleen McDannell writes of the need to look at the production, distribution, and useof material religious culture to understand religious practice and meaning making.136This is the “crush zone” of the tectonic plates of individuals, culture, religion andimages. As well as in stained glass, The Light of the World would have been found inSunday school images, postcards, and prints. To this day these reproductions can befound in churches as framed prints, reredos panels, as well as stained glasswindows.137 It is perhaps less known as a Protestant icon, a “gentle humanistsaviour”, that toured New Zealand in the early 20th century and more like the nextexample, Sallman’s Head of Christ, as an overseas made, image with a message,amongst many found in churches of all denominations in New Zealand.Head of Christ, Protestant imagery and ideology. Of American origin, the image of the Head of Christ, 1940 (fig8) by WarnerSallman is an iconic image of Christ that can be found in churches, religiousinstitutions, and homes in New Zealand. It is found not quite to the same extent as inthe United States, but nonetheless it is a mass produced image of Christ that has apresence in many contexts. Like The Light of the World, the Head of Christ is said tohave a quality that gives the beholder an immediate experience of Christ, 138 it is said135 Simon Coleman and John Elsner, “The Pilgrims Progress: Art, Architecture and Ritual Movement atSinai, World Archeology 26:1 (June 94) p 75136 Robert A.Orsi, George Marsden, David W. Wills, Colleen McDannell “Forum: The Decade Aheadin Scholarship” Religion and American Culture 3:1 (Winter, 93) pp 24 , 27137 Geoffrey Troughton. ‘The Light of the World’ At the end of the World, 1906 The Journal of NewZealand Art History 28 (2007) pp 11 – 12138 David Morgan “Imaging Protestant Piety: The Icons of Warner Sallman”, Religion and AmericanCulture, 3: 1 (Winter, 93) p 34 26
  27. 27. to “resemble the real Jesus”. It is an image responded to as iconic, both personally andin its teaching capacity, by many Christians. The Head of Christ, along with imageslike The Light of the World, and the Catholic Sacred Heart of Christ are images thathave teaching aspects, inspire reverence, and cross boundaries, to Christians of allkind, and Western culture in general.139 The plural sectarian nature of Christianity inNew Zealand made this crossing of boundaries easier than it may have been incultures where one form of Christianity dominates. 140 Also, modern mass productionmade it possible for both believers and the ambient culture to own texts and images ofChrist by this time.141 Images of Christ had become more accessible to all, and notjust in the teaching and ritual spaces of the church. The images teach the faithful, asmuch as the beholders project their ideas onto the images. In the general culture, eventhe most atheistic person has a reaction of some kind to images of Christ. Freedbergsays an image has power derived from its relations with those who behold (gaze) atthem.142 The power attributed to the Head of Christ has lead to it being: “placed in thesanctuary of Protestant churches, (as it) is so highly regarded as a compelling portraitof Jesus”.143 Predominantly Protestant New Zealand has prints of the Head of Christin its Christian material culture. One of these being a large framed reproduction of theHead of Christ is, opposite the sanctuary in the CCCS church, Newtown,Wellington.144 In this church it is not quite as central as the American example but ithangs prominently over the entry way, being the last thing seen as worshipers file out139 Nicholas Lobkowicz, “Christianity and Culture” The Review of Politics 53:2 (Spring, 91) pp 373 -389140 Lloyd Geering, 2100: A Faith Odyssey. The Changing Face of Religion in New Zealand(Wellington: St Andrews Trust for the Study of Religion and Society, 1995) p 9141 Ibid p 9142 David Freedberg (in) David Freedberg, Oleg Grabar, Anne Higonnet ,Cecelia F. Klein, LisaTickner, Anthony Vidler “The Object of Art History” The Art Bulletin 76:3 (Sept, 94) pp 394 / 395143 David Morgan “Imaging Protestant Piety: The Icons of Warner Sallman”, Religion and AmericanCulture, 3: 1 (Winter, 93) p32144 Betty Kathleen Duncan, A Hierachy of Symbols: Samoan Religious Symbolism in New Zealand,thesis (University of Otago, 1994) 27
  28. 28. in a heightened state after a church service. This would guarantee a strong reaction to,and connection with the image for the congregation of this church. Morgan says that this image does not offend protestant iconoclastic sensibilitiesin that it is a “highly legible” image that conveys an essence of Christ, and what it isto be a Protestant American, which should inspire all to follow its example.145 It is animage of what was central to the American Protestant life of its time, a primarilymiddle - class private affirmation of the everyday Jesus who ‘should’ be central toChristian life.146 This is akin to The Light of the World imparting a British ideal ofProtestant piety some half a century previously. America had become as important, ifnot more so, on the world stage over the time between the two images. Protherowrites of the rise of Jesus in the 19th and 20th centuries as the central icon and focus ofveneration in American Protestant Christianity.147 In a way similar to The Light of theWorld, Head of Christ showed and taught a Jesus focused, American, Protestantism tothe rest of the world. Despite the Protestant focus on text and suspicion of icons asartefacts of Catholicism and Eastern Christianity, the Head of Christ was seen as anacceptable image. An Eastern or Catholic icon traditionally mediated between thehuman and sacred worlds; it was seen as “transparent”.148 Miles describes thistransparent translation, using unique religious art works, from mortal to spiritualworlds, as being primarily a way of “describing humanities relationship to God145 David Morgan “Imaging Protestant Piety: The Icons of Warner Sallman”, Religion and AmericanCulture, 3: 1 (Winter, 93) pp 40 - 41146 Ibid pp 32 -33147 Stephen Prohero, American Jesus, How the Son of God Became a National Icon, (New York: Farrar,Straus and Giroux, 2003) pp 80 – 82148 Leslie Brubaker, “Introduction, The Sacred Image” (chpt) 1(eds) Robert Ousterhout, LeslieBrubaker, The Sacred Image East and West (Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1995) p 4 28
  29. 29. through Christ”. 149 In contemporary times of mass produced images, of which theHead of Christ is an example, it is as much “the viewer’s knowledge of what camebefore and what will come after” as any traditionally taught function of the image thataffects how it is read.150 The fact that this image has a nearly 70 year history ofreception and reproduction, allows it to be both a part of Christian culture and thegeneral culture with connotations from both. Mass production and disseminationallow both of these aspects of the image. Detractors of the Head of Christ had similar objections as there had been to TheLight of the World, that it was too sentimental, sweet, and un-manly.151 In its teachingfunction, Head of Christ is an image like Hunt’s that is seen as compassionate,romantic, somewhat feminie and slightly suspect to some. Despite this it is seen asmanly in by enough Christians (men) to be acceptable to most.152 Morgan writes that,the majority of male Christians see the Head of Christ as: “a Jesus who is both manlyand accessible”.153 This suspicion of the softer Jesus, Morgan calls a rejection of “thedomestic Christianity of Women.”154 The fact that the image has this connotation of“intimacy” and inclusion, of the feminine and the domestic, maybe one reason theimage is so widely accepted. As well as gender barriers, the Head of Christ also149 Margaret R. Miles, from “Image” (in) S. Brent Plate (ed) “Section Two Icon: The Image of JesusChrist and Christian Theology” (in) Religion, Art, And Visual Culture, a cross cultural reader (NewYork: Palgrave, 2002) pp 64 - 65150 Ibid pp 64 - 65151 David Morgan, from “Would Jesus have sat for a Portrait? The Likeness of Christ in the PopularReception of Sallman’s Art” (in) S. Brent Plate (ed) “Section Two Icon: The Image of Jesus Christ andChristian Theology” (in) Religion, Art, And Visual Culture, a cross cultural reader (New York:Palgrave, 2002) pp 82 - 84152 David Morgan “Imaging Protestant Piety: The Icons of Warner Sallman”, Religion and AmericanCulture, 3: 1 (Winter, 93) pp 34 - 35153 David Morgan, from “Would Jesus have sat for a Portrait? The Likeness of Christ in the PopularReception of Sallman’s Art” (in) S. Brent Plate (ed) “Section Two Icon: The Image of Jesus Christ andChristian Theology” (in) Religion, Art, And Visual Culture, a cross cultural reader (New York:Palgrave, 2002) p 86154 Ibid p 85 29
  30. 30. transcends denominational and Catholic Protestant boundaries to some extent.Troughton says that the centrality of Jesus Christ to Christianity has been used toendeavour to unify Protestant sectarianism, and Protestant and Catholic differences.155An example of this denominational boundary crossing is in the soup kitchen run bythe Catholic order of The Sisters of Mercy in Wellington which has a print of theHead of Christ on its walls. Sallman’s work in its mass production and disseminationas a print is as ubiquitous as the Catholic Sacred Heart of Christ image, which is alsoto be found in the Catholic institution of the Sisters soup kitchen. Other boundaries this image transcends are those of the categories of uniquenessand genius that art history usually relies on.156 Sallman’s work is unknown to the artelite, but there are over 500 million reproductions of the Head of Christ as objects ofdevotion in churches and homes world wide.157 Morgan talks of images creating asacred space in the secular world of the home of ordinary everyday believers, and howthis appeals to Protestant individual and family focus.158 He says it is an example of alow art, mass produced image that has an enduring life and influence due to itsreception and the response of those who use this image for supplication, veneration,and the other ritual uses it is put to by believers.159 It does not have the aura of theunique work of art Benjamin wrote of. Benjamin did, however, say that while massproducing images does dissipate their unique aura; it can also substitute a “massexistence for a unique existence. And in permitting the reproduction to reach the155 Geoffrey Troughton, Jesus in New Zealand c. 1900 – 1940, Thesis (Massey University, 2007) p 13156 David Morgan “Imaging Protestant Piety: The Icons of Warner Sallman”, Religion and AmericanCulture, 3: 1 (Winter, 93) P 31157 Ibid P 31158 David Morgan, “Domestic Devotion and Ritual: Visual Piety in the Modern American Home” ArtJournal 57:1 (Spring, 98) pp 45 - 47159 David Morgan “Imaging Protestant Piety: The Icons of Warner Sallman”, Religion and AmericanCulture, 3: 1 (Winter, 93) P 29 30
  31. 31. recipient in his or her own situation, it actualizes that which is reproduced.”160 Thepower of a reproduction of popular religious imagery does not lie in its original intent,according to Morgan; it is the subsequent reception and “patterns of response”.161 It isthe reception of the produced image, as being in effect “the real Jesus Christ”: animage of Protestant Christianity within the church, but available to all, which is onereason it stays so potent. Jason Knapp, writing about the collection of Sallman’s work that AndersonUniversity and Warner Press maintain, says that in his first year as curator of thiscollection, he was astonished by the number of requests from individuals and groupswanting to view works. He also notes how many requests were “phrased in thelanguage of a pilgrimage.”162 A Christian pilgrimage site is a place that has a link tothe divine, in the form of a miracle, a relic, or an image. It is a place of mediation,where the earthly, ordinary realm meets the heavenly, divine realm. 163 Freedbergwrites of the miracles that images believers make pilgrimages to, are said toperform.164 The images can be copies, as the Schone Maria at Regensburg which heuses as an example of this aura of power that copies can contain. Not only was thispilgrimage image a copy of an original, but it spawned many thousands of pilgrimagebadges, small reproductions of the copy that were said to have some of the power of160 Michael W Jennings,. Brigid Doherty, Thomas Y Levin,. (eds) Walter Benjamin, The Work of Art inthe Age of its Technological Reproducibility and Other Writings on Media (Massachusetts, London:Belknap Press, 2008) p 22161 David Morgan “Imaging Protestant Piety: The Icons of Warner Sallman”, Religion and AmericanCulture, 3: 1 (Winter, 93) p 29162 Jason Knapp, MFA “Warner Sallman Collection” http://www.Warnersallman.com/ accessed 24 May2009163 Alan Morinis (ed) Sacred Journeys: The Anthropology of Pilgrimage (Connecticut, London:Greenwood press, 1992) 5164 David Freedberg, “Image and Pilgrimage” Chpt 6 (in) The Power of Images, Studies in the Historyand Theory of Response (Chicago, London: The University of Chicago Press, 1989) p100 31
  32. 32. the original. 165 The Head of Christ has a similar life, as the huge number ofreproductions attest to. Morgan records numbers of instances of the images power toprotect and comfort travelling Christians and intercede for believers with Christ. 166The enduring comforting power of this image is seen in a 1994 National Geographicimage of a flood survivor in America clutching a print of the Head of Christ as aprized possession saved and as a source of comfort and strength in a time ofdisaster.167 Morgan also notes the image was (and still is) used to teach Christianchildren how to relate to Christ. As an image of the real, American Protestant, Jesus, itwas seen as an acceptable peadagogical aid in Sunday Schools.168 A ramification of New Zealand’s sectarian Christianity was the 1877 EducationAct that made schooling secular, to avoid conflict over which form of Christianitywas the correct one to teach children.169 Teaching children how to be Christians wasstill seen as important in the changing religious and political landscape of the 1930sand 40s, where there was a fear Christianity was loosing its importance in society.170Teaching through Sunday school used much American teaching material. Theteaching material contained: “bible lesson pictures” in which reproductions ofSallman’s work featured strongly. This is another way this protestant Christ imagerywould have been disseminated in New Zealand. Breward says that ProtestantChristianity was highly involved in Sunday school teaching up till the 1960s in New165 David Freedberg, “Image and Pilgrimage” Chpt 6 (in) The Power of Images, Studies in the Historyand Theory of Response (Chicago, London: The University of Chicago Press, 1989) p103166 David Morgan, “Domestic Devotion and Ritual:Visual Piety in the Modern American Home” ArtJournal 57: 1 (Spring 98) p 47167 “ Riding Out the Worst of Times” National Geographic 185: 1 (Jan 94) p 86168 David Morgan “Imaging Protestant Piety: The Icons of Warner Sallman”, Religion and AmericanCulture, 3: 1 (Winter, 93) p 34169 Lloyd Geering, 2100: A Faith Odyssey. The Changing Face of Religion in New Zealand(Wellington: St Andrews Trust for the Study of Religion and Society, 1995) p 10170 Geoffrey Troughton, Jesus in New Zealand c. 1900 – 1940, Thesis (Massey University, 2007) p 5 32
  33. 33. Zealand.171 The American bible lessons went to Britain, Canada, Australia, NewZealand, and other commonwealth countries according to Morgan.172. Morgan alsopoints out that the Salvation Army; a bastion of conservative Protestantism usedSallman’s imagery regularly on the cover of their main publication The War Cry, anddoubtless in their teaching material as well.173 The Catholic cathedral of the Sacred Heart, in Wellington, has a set of paintingsdepicting the Stations of the Cross. The Stations are a journey through the Passion ofChrist; the representations of it facilitate a close relating to it in the beholdersreception.174 Despite being Catholic, the paintings in the cathedral of the Sacred Heartseem remarkably similar to Sallman in they way they are painted and their depictionsof the Caucasian Christ.175 They are also similar to the Stations of the Cross paintedby Julia B. Lynch, originally for a church in Wellington, which now reside in theGood Shepherd Theological College, Auckland.176 Both these depict the bearded,slim, beatific Caucasian Jesus, both have imagery that could be equally at home in theProtestant inspired work of Sallman. Another depiction of The Stations, in thetraditional medium of low relief carved panels, 1926 – 27, by Frederick GeorgeGurnsey (1868 – 1953), shows Christ in a three dimensional form. Despite havingbeen made 13 or 14 years before Sallman’s painting they bare a remarkable171 Ian Breward “Conclusion”Oxford History of the Christian Church, A History of the Church inAustralasia (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001) p 425172 David Morgan, The Lure of Images, A History of Religion and Visual Media in America ( London,New York: Routledge, 2007) p 94173 David Morgan “Imaging Protestant Piety: The Icons of Warner Sallman”, Religion and AmericanCulture, 3: 1 (Winter, 93) p 36174 George Cyprian Alston, “The Way of the Cross” The Catholic Encyclopedia Vol 15 (New York:Robert Appelton Company, 1912) http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/15569a.htm accessed 24 May2009175 Michael King, Gods Farthest Outpost, A History of Catholics in New Zealand (Aucklan: Viking,1997) pp 152 -153176 Julia Lynch – Good Shepherd Theological College, http://www.gsc.ac.nz/lynch.htm accessed 25May 09 33
  34. 34. resemblance to Sallman’s imagery.177 This and the two previous examples show thecommonality of iconography of Christ in the traditional Stations format. All theseimages are culturally of Western Christianity. This Christ imagery is definitely of awhite man, not an Eastern icon Christ, nor a Maori or Polynesian Christ. They areembodiments of how Christ was seen in the time they were made, as well as beingimages made to explicitly teach of Christ’s passion. Like the Head of Christ they arehistories of their time as much as a pedagogical tool. The time and context of theviewer and the maker are embedded in the image. The visual cultural approach thattries to look at both sides of an image, its production and its reception apply to these“sallmanesque” stations.178 The preconceptions of the viewer will colour the meaningtaken from the viewing, as much as the image influences the viewers experience itself.This dialectical process can feed back into contemporary image making, whichembodies the past in the time of its production, as will be seen in more contemporaryartist’s use of such traditional forms and ideas as the Stations. Images like the Stations and Head of Christ show interplay of internal personaland socially culturally valued ideas in the presence of an image.179 The space betweenmeaning and physical art works is the zone Coleman and Elsner call the “the recursiverelationship between material culture and religious experience”,180 and as a theologyfixed in a space. This relationship between internal, social and textual realities is a bigpart of the more traditional imagery of Christ in early New Zealand, and the fairly177 Mark, Stocker Angels and Roses, The art of Fredrick George Gurnsey (Christchurch: CanterburyUniversity Press, 1997) pp 33 - 34178 S. Brent Plate (ed) “Section Two Icon: The Image of Jesus Christ and Christian Theology” (in)Religion, Art, And Visual Culture, a cross cultural reader (New York: Palgrave, 2002) pp 54 - 55179 Alan Morinis (ed) Sacred Journeys: The Anthropology of Pilgrimage (Connecticut, London:Greenwood press, 1992) 4 - 6180 Simon Coleman and John Elsner, The Pilgrims Progress: Art, Architecture and ritual movement atSinai, World Archaeology 26:1 Archaeology of Pilgrimage (June 1994) 73 34
  35. 35. explicit teaching functions of them. Artists of the mid to late 20th and early 21stcenturies in New Zealand tended to express private conviction, and take Christ intotheir personal space and image use. As images of Christ moved into the fine art worldand fine artist moved into the ecclesiastical world, what was being taught,commemorated, and the forms of ritual around these images continued to diversifyand multiply, in the artists taking Christ imagery into their personal, internal journeysand out of the more collective spaces of the church. This is very much the mindscapeidea, the internal sacred space that is visited when relating to, or imagining, a scaredimage as an alternative to a physical visit in the material world to see an image.181Hegel writes that most of what is valuable in Western art and culture comes fromChristianity, but that Christianity is superfluous in any thing other than “expression ofmere private conviction” in the modern world.182 In light of this appraisal of the placeof things Christian, O’Grady says the role of the Christian artist is to challenge,expand, and refresh the church’s ecclesiastical views.183 This challenge to churchbased imagery, within the multi - culturalism, pluralism and secularism of NewZealand culture, was a fertile ground for images of Jesus Christ to move into thesphere of fine art.McCahon and Fomison: the search for a New Zealand Christ in modern art.181 Alan Morinis (ed) Sacred Journeys: The Anthropology of Pilgrimage (Connecticut, London:Greenwood press, 1992) 4 - 6182 Nicholas Lobkowicz, “Christianity and Culture” The Review of Politics 53:2 (Spring, 91) p 377183 Ron O’Grady (ed) Christ for All People, Celebrating a World of Christian Art. (Auckland: Pace,2001) p 26 35
  36. 36. The personal quest using traditional Christian and modern New Zealandimagery, seem to be the zone where images of Christ in New Zealand were in the midto late 20th century. A quest orientation to religion is seen by Bateson as an openminded searching for meaning.184 Kojetin et al. say it is more an effect of personaldistress over religious questions.185 Both of these apply to a number of artists fromaround the 1950s. This seeking, informed by a Modernist perspective of optimism inhuman progress,186 was the teritory that Colin McCahon, a pivotal figure in that he isone of the first fine arts practitioners in New Zealand to put Jesus in a New Zealandlandscape, worked in. McCahon’s work also helped move the production andreception of images of Jesus Christ from ecclesiastical control to the realm of theindividual artist, and into galleries rather than churches. As fewer churches werebeing built in the early 20th century, and new stained glass windows less common,windows were no longer so pre-eminent in depicting Christ. As complete churchenvironment making was less, works going into existing churches and works in otherformats like paintings became more common. Fomision even more than McCahonmoved images of Christ in New Zealand into paint and from church to gallery. Despite McCahon’s personal exploration of his religious and spiritual beliefs inhis daily life through his art, Hunter says the commission for a set of windows for theConvent Chapel of the Sisters of Our Lady of the Missions in Auckland was of “greatimportance” to him.187 She says that he saw that this art work was for an “audience184 Brian A. Kojetin, Danny N. McIntosh, Robert A. Bridges, Bernard Spilka, “Quest: ConstructiveSearch or religious Conflict?” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 26: 1 (Mar, 87) pp 111 - 112185 Ibid pp 111 - 112186 Hilary Brand, Adrienne Chaplin “Art in a Post-Modern Age” (chpt 1) Art and Soul, Signposts forChristians in the Arts, ( Carlisle, Illinois: Piquant Editions, and Intervarsity Press, 2007) p5187 Alexa M. Johnston “Christianity in New Zealand Art” (in) (ed) Marry Barr Headlands, ThinkingThrough New Zealand Art, (Sydney: museum of contemporary art, 1992) p 105 36
  37. 37. with the requisite knowledge to recognise and respond to the religious symbols in hiswork.”188 This shows how important the reception of his Christian message was toMcCahon, and awareness on the artist’s part of how an audience’s prior learningaffects the message they receive from an image. This desire for people to understandhis imagery was a constant quest it would seem. The artist’s son William writes thathis father: “sought to engage his public in a visual dialogue about himself and his relationship with God. … Hispaintings reflected a commited Christian perspective and his entire oeuvre is the narrative of his life ofspiritual and emotional discovery.”189 Ian Wedde sounds a note of caution, asking was McCahon wrestling withreligious faith, or is it just that such things as faith are more openly discussed now? 190Poetry, music, and art are often used in the way faith, religion, and spiritualitytraditionally have been by more secular people. This brings up the debate of is anartist truly a spiritual seeker, or is the art world trying to find something trendy intheir work.191 Both are probably true. In asking “how religious was McCahon?”,192Johnston, rather than debating the issue says looking at McCahon’s work in light oftheology shows The artists faith in Christs “historical and continuing” example ofwhat it is to be the best human one can be.193 This humanistic type Christ is central in188 Ibid p 105189 Marja Bloem, Martin Browne, Colin McCahon, a Question of Faith (Amsterdam: StedelijkMuseum, Craig Potton Publishing, 2002) p 29190 Ian Wedde “McChaon, A Question of Faith” Making Ends meet, Essays and talks 1992 – 2004(Wellington: Victoria University Press, 2005) pp 295 - 296191 Hilary Brand, Adrienne Chaplin “Art and the Quest for the Spiritual” (chpt 2) Art and Soul,Signposts for Christians in the Arts, ( Carlisle, Illinois: Piquant Editions, and Intervarsity Press, 2007)p 16192 Alexa M. Johnston “God talk – McCahon and Theology” (in) Colin McCahon, Gates and Journeys(Auckland: Academy Press, 1988) p 57193 Ibid p 61 37
  38. 38. much of his imagery. Maybe it follows on from the humanistic Protestant Christ ofThe Light of the World and the Head of Christ, merely being updated by McChaon forthe times he found himself in. Maybe images of Christ served to enable him to bestshow the thoughts and emotions he sought to express. In an interview in 1980 (7 yearsbefore he died), he said that he was painting “beauty and serenity”, that he waspainting “Christ”.194 Much like Vincent Van Gogh’s desire to be a missionary beforehe turned to art,195 McCahon had originally wanted to be an evangelist. This suggeststhat no mater how much of his art was pure self expression, McCahon had areligious / spiritual nature he explored, and sought to expressed.196 Yule writes ofMcCahon in terms of a prophetic, evangelistic artist producing a spiritual and artisticanswer to the secularity of New Zealand culture of the mid to late 20th century, whosemessage was perhaps not received as the artist intended.197 These again show that amessage may be interpreted by its audience in ways the producer did not necessarilyintend and that we may not necessarily know the artists intention fully. A prophetcreates newness from, and challenges, the established order. Johnston, writing ofBrueggemann’s ideas of a prophet’s role in a modern society says a prophet:challenges “public certainty” with a personal drive for a deeper, more spiritual,reality.198 In this way McChaon could be said to be the prophet many have called him.194 Murry Ball, “I Am” (in) Marja Bloem, Martin Browne, Colin McCahon, a Question of Faith(Amsterdam: Stedelijk Museum, Craig Potton Publishing, 2002) p 50195 Hilary Brand, Adrienne Chaplin “Art and the Quest for the Spiritual” (chpt 2) Art and Soul,Signposts for Christians in the Arts, ( Carlisle, Illinois: Piquant Editions, and Intervarsity Press, 2007)p 20196 Murry Ball, “I Am” (in) Marja Bloem, Martin Browne, Colin McCahon, a Question of Faith(Amsterdam: Stedelijk Museum, Craig Potton Publishing, 2002) p 46197 Rob Yule, “How the light gets in, The Christian art of Colin McCahon” Chrysalis Seed Arts 31 (Oct08) pp 16 – 19198 Derek Johnston, “Walter Brueggemann and the Biblical Imagination” (chpt 15) (in) A Brief Historyof Theology, From the New Testament to Feminist Theology (London. New York: Continuum, 2008) p258 38
  39. 39. McCahon’s religious paintings were first shown seven years after Sallman’swork was produced in 1947.199 Three of the works from that time specifically ofChrist in a New Zealand setting are: Crucifixion (for Rodney Kennedy) (fig9), with itslamp that seems to reference The Light of the World’s lamp, as much as Christ’sdivinity grace, or inner radience. Another is Crucifixion according to St Mark (fig10),which has Christ in a very New Zealand landscape. Finally Crucifixion with Lamp(fig11). Keith talks of these works as: both shifting the focus from British Landscapeart which had been the preeminent scenic art in colonial New Zealand to a NewZealand landscape, and that landscape as providing a backdrop for biblical stories anda context “to rest the Pakeha imagination (in)”.200 As Panoho says, in referenceprimarily to the work Crucifixion – the apple branch (fig12) of 1950 with its depictionof the family in differing locations looking for guidance and strength, but alsoMcCahon’s work in general, raises the issue of “our profound (human) need to engagewith Christ’s claim to divine right over our lives.”201 This was a Christ in a NewZealand setting, designed and created by a New Zealander to fulfil an agenda bothpersonal and cultural, but received in its time with less understanding than the artistseemed to have desired. Unlike the familiar structure of church iconography andimagery, paintings in the art arena were able to be interpreted in various ways bymany different sectors of society. This diversity of interpretation in differing contextsapplies to McCahon’s religious imagery.199 Peter Simson, Answering Hark, McCahon / Caselberg, Painter / Poet (Craig Potton Publishing,2001) p 12200 Hamish Keith, The Big Picture, A History of New Zealand art from 1642 (Auckland: RandomHouse, 2007) pp 156 – 157, 167 - 172201 Anaru / Andrew Panoho “Two exhibitions – one people” CS Arts 31 (Oct 08) p 29 39
  40. 40. In the process of looking back on artists from the present to try and determinewhat they were trying to say there is room for interpretation. As most of the artistsand their commissioners, especially in the 19th and early 20th century are dead, there isnecessarily an element of guess work in figuring out why images were produced asthey were. What the reception was can be ascertained to a greater degree, but is canstill be obscure. The complexity of a local artist, rather than the more anonymous andtraditional stained glass window making firms from America, Britain, or Europe,creating an art work for a church is illustrated also by Bill Sutton’s Transfiguration ofChrist 1979. This window was designed for the Northern transept in the Anglicancathedral of Christchurch. There was dispute over, and changes made by the artist tothe depiction of the face of Christ.202 The conflict of donor, church, and artist’s visionsled Sutton to describe the process as “one of the best commissions an artist could get,but one of his biggest disappointments”.203 This difference between the variousparties’ desires and agendas during a process like this shows the complexity of theprocess a seemingly simple request like creating a window depicting Christ’s image,to commemorate a member of the donors family, can be. The artists and donor haddiffering ideas about imagery in this case, showing how important agreed ideas ofwhat imagery to use is. This is akin to McCahon’s desire for his work to be seen in asmuch a theological, as an art world context, typified by his pleasure at creating a workthat went into a church environment where people should be able to relate to the workfrom a shared set of ideas.204 Again, it is debatable that this was the outcome, butshared Christian knowledge which itself would have come from traditional images202 Colin Brown Vision and Reality, Christchurch’s Cathedral in the Square (Christchurch:Christchurch cathedral chapter, 2000) pp 125 – 130203 Ibid p 130204 Alexa M. Johnston “Christianity in New Zealand Art” (in) (ed) Marry Barr Headlands, ThinkingThrough New Zealand Art, (Sydney: museum of contemporary art, 1992) p 105 40
  41. 41. and writings, should make the secular art of McCahon and Sutton easier to interpret toChristians viewers. A secular response to a resurgence of church commissioned art in the 1950s and60s was the exhibition of religious work, the Christian art show at the New VisionGallery, Auckland in 1967.205 This was a group show, which contained work byMcCahon amongst others, which was of religious art and not just images of Christ.Christian art did show the moving of images of Christ from exclusively sacredenvironments of churches to the secular marketplace of gallery walls was continuingdespite the resurgence of art in churches. The upsurge, after a lull in churchcommissioning, was due to such things as the Second Vatican Council opening theCatholic faith to a wider world, and the ecumenical movement within Protestantchurches world wide endeavouring to renew faith in Christ as a unifier amongst thedenominations.206 This was a spur to artistic production, as well as to religious writingand mission.207 Other factors in post World War Two era New Zealand to thisheightened production of Christian art were that it was both a time of memorialcreation and of economic boom in much of New Zealand. Also trade restrictions inthe 1960s and 70s virtually halted the importing of English and European madestained glass. 208 This led to local work being designed and produced in all media byNew Zealanders for New Zealand ecclesiastical and secular markets.205 Ibid pp 105 - 106206 Ibid p 103207 Alexa M. Johnston “Christianity in New Zealand Art” (in) (ed) Marry Barr Headlands, ThinkingThrough New Zealand Art, (Sydney: museum of contemporary art, 1992) p 103208 Fiona Ciaran, Stained Glass Windows of Canterbury, New Zealand (Dunedin: University of OtagoPress, 1998) p 37 41
  42. 42. An almost Asian looking Christ dates from this period, Christ Seated inMajesty.209 (fig13) This image shows some of the crossing of English and European toNew Zealand control of images of Christ in the mid to late 1900s. Ciaran writes ofhow this image was produced by the Miller Studios, Dunedin. As part of PresbyterianOtago, Dunedin based artisans met resistance in Anglican Canterbury Even more thanthis denominational suspicion, the idea of New Zealanders designing the image ofChrist was still resisted. Miller’s solved this by having the work designed by anEnglish artist, Kenneth Bunton.210 This meant the image still had the “traditional”legitimacy of being designed in the “home country”, but was made in New Zealand. A1958 window, made in England has a similar almost Asian looking Christ as GoodShepherd with a Pioneer Family. (fig14)211 The striking feature of this window is it isone of the first church windows to “show New Zealand symbolism overtly.”212 It ismore of an ‘add – on’ than McCahon’s completely New Zealand sited Jesus, butshows the trend of its times. This window and its imagery come from Canterbury’scentenary of settlement, and the rise in prosperity at the time.213 Ciaran notes,illustrated by a 1957 Ascension window, that “(a)fter World War Two, British stainedglass studios either tried or were requested to use more New Zealand symbolism.”,with mostly accurate depictions resulting of New Zealand flora, fauna appearing instained glass windows for the first time.(fig15)214 This shows that images of Christbegan to be linked to things New Zealand in ecclesiastical art around the same time asMcCahon was doing this in the more secular fine arts world.209 Ibid p 49210 Ibid pp 49 - 50211 Ibid pp 8 - 9212 Fiona Ciaran, Stained Glass Windows of Canterbury, New Zealand (Dunedin: University of OtagoPress, 1998 p 8213 Ibid p 8214 Fiona Ciaran, Stained Glass Windows of Canterbury, New Zealand (Dunedin: University of OtagoPress, 1998) p 81 42
  43. 43. Bett writes of McCahon, and a group of artists who followed him in expressingthe “spirit … of an era”,215 the 1960s, 70s, and 80s. Amongst artists she lists areJeffrey Harris, Nigel Brown, Philip Clairmont, and Tony Fomison.216 All of whomhave depicted Jesus Christ in New Zealand contexts, and as Bett puts it: “(all) have amoralistic, aggressive view of life and seek the spiritual uplifting of society throughtheir art.”217 This Modernist, humanist type sentiment of the individual seeking theultimate can be seen in their work. Fomison and McCahon both had a prophet likepersonal appearance and message in their work. Both artists and their nearcontemporary the poet James K. Baxter who wrote of a Christ centred in NewZealand218 shared not only an interest in spiritualty, (Catholicism in the case ofMcCahon and Baxter) but lives affected by alcoholism and drug addiction. These alladd to the mystique of the outsider, the lone prophetic artist. Like McCahon it is hardto say how much of these later artists work is driven by veneration of Christ, a questorientation to life, and / or just using a symbol that has power and is common inWestern visual culture, or if it is a mixture of both. After his death, McCahon’smantle falls on Fomison Bett says. Bett says that Fomison: “has followed an uniquely individual and solitary way …in his monochromatic handling of a low-keypalette and depiction of the human figure. ... (he is) speaking a new and prophetic tongue. …WhearasMcCahon offers hope, however, Fomison is existential…. (with an) eschatology (that is) of New 219Zealand”.215 Elva Bett, “The expression of an era” chpt 9 New Zealand Art, A Modern Perspective (Auckland:Reed Methuen, 1986) pp 94 – 102216 Ibid pp 94 – 102217 Ibid pp 95 -96218 James K. Baxter “The Body and Blood of Christ” The Flowering Cross (Dunedin: The New ZealandTablet Company Ltd, 1969) pp 175 – 182219 Elva Bett, “The expression of an era” chpt 9 New Zealand Art, A Modern Perspective (Auckland:Reed Methuen, 1986) pp 96 - 97 43

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