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Art Collection

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Immerse yourself in a curated world of artistic expression at The George, Christchurch.

Our exquisite Art Collection, meticulously curated and refined since the early 1990s by renowned New Zealand sculptor Stephen Gleeson, transforms the hotel into a gallery. Seamlessly blending luxury accommodations with a celebration of creativity, this extensive collection offers a unique glimpse into New Zealand’s most expressive artistic talents. Each piece tells a unique story, inviting guests to explore the intersection of elegance and artistic inspiration.

Elevate your stay with a visual journey that transcends traditional hospitality. Capturing and documenting the fusion of cultures, contemporary politics, and events that have shaped our Pacific nation, The George’s ambience is as artistic as it is luxurious. Where every corner reveals a masterpiece, and each moment is an encounter with the extraordinary, experience The George’s commitment to blending exceptional art with the essence of luxury.

Hotel Art Tour

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Discover the rich artistic tapestry within The George, featuring the largest private collection of Ralph Hotere works in New Zealand, complemented by six pieces from the acclaimed Christchurch artist Bill Hammond, and more.

Embark on a private tour of the hotel’s exclusive art collection, available upon request.  Stroll through the corridors, public spaces, and venues of The George, enjoying a complimentary glass of Nautilus Cuvee while delving into the

techniques and inspirations behind some of New Zealand’s most celebrated artists.

Cost: $50 per person (minimum of 2 people per tour, with a minimum of 24 hours notice required).  Book through our Concierge team.  Tours are subject to the availability of a tour guide.

Artists

Ralph Hotere (b. 1931, d. 2013) was born in Northland and stands as one of New Zealand’s most significant artists.  His impactful visual creations intertwine current events with poetry, exemplified by the Black Rainbow series of 1985, addressing French nuclear testing in the Pacific and the bombing of the Rainbow Warrior in Auckland’s Waitemata Harbour.

Starting in 1984, Hotere collaborated with printers to produce lithographs, and these prints have continued to explore his major themes.  He lived and worked in Port Chalmers, Dunedin, and his work is extensively represented in both New Zealand and international public and private collections.

The George’s Ralph Hotere collection includes nine lithographs, one drawing, and one etching. Seven key works are showcased on a specially designed feature wall in the hotel lobby.  Hotere often combines lithography with overdrawing, and his signature images frequently feature the heart and the cross.  Known for his close association with New Zealand poets, their writings are often inscribed in his works.  The Song Cycle on level 3 in the Parkview Lobby incorporates the work of his close friend, poet Bill Banhire.

“He has never been afraid to show anger in his work, or to take an active position in the wider realm of public opinion”

Stephen Gleeson (b. 1958) graduated with honors in sculpture from the University of Canterbury School of Fine Arts.

“He studied printmaking with Barry Cleavin and, together with his then partner Marian Maguire, pioneered the art of lithography in New Zealand.”

Collaborating with Ralph Hotere from the mid-1980s, Gleeson has since specialised in bronze sculptures and garnered numerous commissions.  He runs his own foundry facility in Christchurch and manages Limeworks gallery, specialising in significant contemporary New Zealand artworks available for loan.

Four bronze violins at The George are part of a sculptural set developed over 13 years by Stephen Gleeson.  They symbolise a series of laments, with each instrument carrying different stories and meanings.

In a characteristic touch of humor, Gleeson crafted a gilded bronze hare, representing life’s journey and the process of moving forward with full force.  Originally a wooden crate, the stand was expanded to crucifix form and cast in bronze.  This sculpture is situated in the outside courtyard of the walkway from The Residence.

 

Michael Tuffery (b. 1966) was born in Wellington and is of Samoan and Cook Islander descent.  As one of New Zealand’s leading contemporary artists, Tuffery is renowned for his work as a printmaker, sculptor, and painter.  He attended the fine arts schools of the University of Hawai’i and Otago Polytechnic.

A traditional journeyman artist, Tuffery is driven by personal experiences and knowledge, making his art deeply personal and autobiographical.

He explores the artistic heritage of the Pacific in an innovative and dynamic way, integrating traditional design motifs, stories, dance, and song.

In an effort to educate his people about the dangers of obesity among Samoans, Tuffery created a series of life-size sculptures of bulls made from flattened corned beef tins.  The Islanders had become addicted to eating tinned beef, which was imported after World War II and had largely replaced their traditional diet.  One of these striking sculptures is exhibited at the Christchurch Art Gallery.

Fatu Feu’u (b. 1946) was born in the village of Poutasi in Western Samoa and is a pioneering and highly regarded Polynesian artist. Feu’u has earned an international reputation as the ‘father’ of Pacific Island art in New Zealand.  He immigrated to Auckland in 1966.

Despite being unable to attend art school due to financial constraints, Feu’u worked as a laborer and dedicated his free time, weekends, and evenings to painting.  In the late 1980s, he met Tony Fomison, a prominent New Zealand artist who had developed an interest in Samoan art and custom.

Fomison encouraged Feu’u to delve into his rich cultural roots, exploring tapa designs and traditional ornaments.  From this exploration, Feu’u developed his distinctive artistic style.  His work has been featured in numerous exhibitions, and his pieces are part of collections worldwide.

John Pule (b.1962) was born in Niue and immigrated to New Zealand at the age of two.  Although he had no formal training, Pule, like Fatu Feu’u, was encouraged by Tony Fomison, who provided him with paints and canvas.  In his early paintings, Pule experimented with different styles. It wasn’t until he returned to Niue in 1991 as an adult that his distinctive voice as an artist began to emerge.

“He uses Neiuean tapa cloth (hiapo) to depict contemporary narratives, substituting canvas for cloth, adapting its layout and palettes of colours.”

Pule is a true Renaissance man, excelling as a painter, printmaker, poet, and writer.  He is highly inventive in adapting traditional Pacific art forms, creating challenging and provocative works that make them his own.  Since 1991, Pule has exhibited extensively throughout New Zealand, Australia, and the Asia-Pacific regions. He has held residences at the Cultural Museum in Rarotonga and at Galerie Romerapotheke in Zurich.

In 2004, he received the prestigious Laureate Award from the Arts Foundation of New Zealand.  Pule was also the University of Auckland Literary Fellow in 2000 and the distinguished-visiting writer in residence at the University of Hawai’i in 2002.

Hotel Art & Urban Art Tour Experience

Explore the vibrant urban art scene in Christchurch with a guide from Watch This Space, in addition to your private hotel art tour.  Despite its reputation for neo-gothic architecture and English colonial roots, Ōtautahi Christchurch has become a recognised street art destination, even featured in Lonely Planet’s global guide as one of the top 42 street art cities worldwide.

The city’s urban art story is unique, reflecting its landscape and the needs of post-earthquake recovery, creating a layered connection to place and the experiences of the last decade.

The tour costs $80 per person, with a minimum of 2 people per tour and a minimum of 24 hours notice required.

Book through our Concierge team for an enriching exploration of Christchurch’s dynamic street art scene.

Artists cont.

Bill Hammond (b.1947 d.2021) was born in Christchurch. He studied at the School of Fine Arts Canterbury, and from 1971 until 1981, he worked as a toymaker.  Hammond transitioned to becoming a full-time artist and printmaker in 1982, producing surreal images based on popular culture, including comic books and history.

“His works show his concern of endangered species and extinct birds creating a serious undertone in his art.”

After a trip to the Auckland Islands in 1989 as part of the Art in the Sub-Antarctic project, Hammond developed a profound interest in New Zealand native birds. However, his paintings often depict hybrid creatures that could be seen as a vision of the future, illustrating the potential consequences of a consumer society out of control and heading for extinction.  Hammond’s work became a significant contribution to New Zealand’s contemporary art scene.

 

Llew(ellyn) Summers (b.1947 d.2019) was a well-known Christchurch sculptor, and his works are prominently displayed in various public places throughout the city.  Summers was recognised for creating mainly figurative sculptures, characterised by large and simplified forms.  One of his notable works, “The Wrestlers,” features two large, round-bodied nudes in a wrestling position made out of cast concrete, and it can be observed on the river’s edge in the Botanic Gardens.

Summers’ expertise in working with concrete on a grand scale was influenced by his early experience on major construction projects.

“His nudes are highly visible wherever they are displayed, so it could be said that Llew Summers is largely responsible for bringing nude sculpture out in the open in Christchurch. “

In addition to his work in concrete, Summers also explored other mediums such as marble, wood, and ceramics, showcasing his versatility as a sculptor.

Barry Cleavin (b.1939) was born in Dunedin and currently resides and works in Christchurch.  He has established an impressive body of work primarily as a creator of etchings, although more recent images have been digitally rendered.  Two of his etchings are showcased in lobby of The George.

“Usually figurative, sometimes surreal, and often cryptic the images expose a very individual commentary on the world and its inhabitants.”

Since 1966, Cleavin has participated in numerous exhibitions throughout New Zealand.  He was a senior lecturer in Printmaking at the University of Canterbury School of Art from 1978 to 1990. Cleavin has received various awards, including a Fulbright Fellowship in 1983, allowing him to work at the Tamarind Institute at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque.

In recognition of his contributions to the arts, Cleavin was awarded the New Zealand Order of Merit (ONZM) in 2001.

Stephen Goodenough (b. 1963) is an exceptionally talented photographer who has garnered several major awards for his work. Based in Christchurch, Stephen is a fellow of the New Zealand Institute of Professional Photographers.  In 2005, he earned the NZIPP top award for black and white prints.

“He is renowned for his commercial and editorial work in the field of architecture, food, fashion and people.”

Stephen has created a series of specially commissioned photographic images of Christchurch, specifically designed to showcase The George’s prime location in the heart of New Zealand’s beautiful Garden City.

Having documented The George with his lens since 2004, Stephen is responsible for the hotel’s in-room imagery, in brochures and on its website.

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The perfect gift for any occasion.  Surprise a friend, a colleague, or even the employee of the month with a luxury experience at The George. 

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We received a warm and genuine welcome in the lobby on arrival. What a change to have a sit-down table and chair for checking in rather than a stand-up desk. We were assisted with setting up the EV charger and delighted that our 52nd wedding anniversary was marked by an upgrade, plus a rose and chocolates in-room. We also really appreciated the great service in the restaurant, including the special “congratulations” dessert.

– Murray – June 2023
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