Rewi Alley (1897-1987) is one of Canterbury’s most well-known sons. Shortly after his arrival in China in 1927, he began collecting Chinese arts, and gifting them to Canterbury Museum. By the late 1940s, he had settled on a use for his gifts: to raise consciousness about the plight of the Chinese people, and through exhibitions to raise funds for the school in western China of which he was the principal. In 1950, a large exhibition of Rewi Alley’s gifts was staged in Waimate. During the 1950s and 60s, at a time when formal diplomatic relations did not exist between China and New Zealand, Alley used his art as a diplomatic bridge between peoples on opposing sides of the Cold War.
Associate Professor of Art History at Canterbury University, Dr Richard Bullen will explain the history of Rewi Alley’s gifting of Chinese artefacts to New Zealand, and introduce the two paintings gifted to the Aigantighe in 1973.
Dr Bullen teaches east Asian art history and aesthetics at the University of Canterbury. He was a 2019 CAA-Getty International Scholar, and recently has also published on Japanese aesthetics and the aesthetic philosophy of David Hume, and the aesthetics of the Japanese Tea garden. He is currently studying the art made in WWII by Japanese POWs held at Featherston, Wairarapa. With Associate Professor James Beattie (Victoria) and the assistance of a Marsden Grant, Dr Bullen has published on the extensive relationship networks and negotiations underpinning Alley’s gifts of traditional Chinese art and artefacts to New Zealand.
Please join us at the Aigantighe Art Gallery for Dr Bullen’s public lecture at 2pm on Saturday 26 June 2021.