Christine Hellyar’s work is characterised by a concern for how people interact with nature and by an interest in making the ordinary unusual by using museum display techniques. In other exhibitions she has placed Pacific artifacts into European arrangements and in this exhibition she has placed European artifacts in Pacific arrangements.
This exhibition explores the impact of Captain Cook’s visits on the Pacific. Cook left his mark on the region by introducing European food crops and commodities such as printed floral fabrics and cast glassware. Many of these new objects and materials were adapted by Polynesian peoples for their own means and took on a new meaning and significance.
Cook’s Gardens has been in development since 2000 when Hellyar began reading Cook’s journals and those of his crew which recorded their observations and activities during the three explorative voyages into the Pacific in the late eighteenth century.
Cook’s Gardens was created during an artist-in-residence at the Sarjeant Gallery in Whanganui.