Tomorrow will be the same but not as this is

Colin McCahon, Tomorrow will be the same but not as this is, 1958-1959, enamel and sand on hardboard, 1886 x 1278mm. Collection Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū, courtesy of Colin McCahon Research and Publication Trust. 


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Robin Morrison, Blue sheep Kaitangata, 1979, 35mm chromogenic print. Courtesy Tāmaki Paenga Hira Auckland War Memorial Museum / The Wool Lover

Vivienne Stone

Director, McCahon House Museum and Artists’ Residency

I first saw Colin McCahon’s Tomorrow will be the same but not as this is as a university student in Dunedin in the mid 1980s. I can still vividly recall my visceral reaction to it. I didn’t recognise the specific landscape, but I totally recognised the feelings of home and connectedness on viewing both the light, the landscape and the words which comprise this painting.

Colin McCahon once called Aotearoa New Zealand a landscape of too few lovers. It is clear to me, that he is very much, and always has been, one of Aotearoa New Zealand’s finest lovers. For me, his landscape paintings of our country are love poems. They evoke and trigger deep connections in me. It’s his great gift that he shares with us all – somehow he’s managed to capture the timeless essence of our land. What’s remarkable is that he manages to evoke an emotional reaction, a feeling of place. As opposed to an “ah yes, I know exactly the spot where he painted that from”. The point isn’t so much an exact reproduction of a specific geographic location. It’s more about the light and the forms and the feelings that gather around a place. As well as recognising McCahon’s landscapes for the general geographic formations (for example: Takaha Hills, Otago Peninsula, Manukau Harbour, Muriwai etcetera) I believe we also recognise them through the emotional connection they trigger in the viewer.

Appreciating McCahon’s landscapes is not something exclusively for New Zealanders. The quality of his painting and the various styles he used, ensured he was admired by his peers and the small international audience that know of his work. (Hopefully the 21st century will better address McCahon’s place in an international cannon of modernist art – he’s been overlooked for too long).

Another project which attempts to capture unique qualities of Aotearoa New Zealand, and our connection to the world is The Wool Lover. It’s a project I’ve been working on for the last 7 years with my creative partner Kirsty Cameron. The Wool Lover currently exists as a digital journal.

On a tough day, we are tempted to modify McCahon’s phrase and say that ‘wool is a fibre of too few lovers’ as gaining support for this project continues to be challenging. However this would not be entirely true. One of the great joys of developing The Wool Lover is discovering the pockets of people around New Zealand and the world who are very passionate about wool. It’s one of the reasons that we think the project is worth pursuing – the fact that a love for wool can connect a diverse group of people across different ages, lifestyles and geographies.

Like McCahon’s art, the wool related stories we publish of makers, curators, researchers and so on are very evocative. They are distinctly of Aotearoa New Zealand however they also connect us to other wool projects and people around the world. They also make me feel grounded/at home and connected.

Our vision for The Wool Lover is to keep commissioning and publishing new content online. We also hope to publish an annual print publication (The Wool Lover volume I and so on) and maybe one day a web series too. Check it out, and sign up to our newsletter at thewoollover.nz

CONNECTING CULTURAL LEGACY WITH CONTEMPORARY PRACTICE

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