Sometimes you just don’t want to rush stuff. That was certainly the case when it came to the transfer of Colin McCahon’s Landscape Theme and Variations Series B from Creative NZ’s collection to Te Papa. Way back in 1964 the newly formed Queen Elizabeth II Arts Council purchased the work in order to stop it from going overseas and with the intention of gifting it to the National Art Gallery.
The first objective was obviously a great success as the work is still in the country and the second? Well that was only achieved a couple of months ago. Yes, 47 years after it was purchased Landscape Theme and Variations Series B has become part of the National collections at Te Papa. Mind you the Arts Council did try to give the work to the National Art Gallery back in 1964, but they apparently said they were full.
Somewhere along the way the works were pasted down on boards and the banners became framed panels, something McCahon was very unhappy about. "I feel the more official treatment of the B series was a mistake." Another version Landscape Theme and Variations Series A survived the glue pot and framing and ended up in the Auckland Art Gallery’s collection as a gift from the McCahon family.
Image: Landscape Theme and Variations Series B (rear) with Practical Religion: the Resurrection of Lazarus showing Mount Martha being exhibited at a Dowse Art Gallery in 1980. You can read the CNZ story here.