Artwork Details


birds, myth, painting

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Whistler's Mothers

ArtistW D Hammond
Production Date2000
Mediumpencil, ink, acrylic on paper
Size1400 x 1850 mm
DepartmentNew Zealand Art
Subjectsbirds, wings
Accession Date15 Nov 2000
Accession NoC2000/1/25
Credit LineChartwell Collection, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, 2000


James Abbott MacNeil Whistler’s mother was Anna Whistler (1804-1881) and she the subject of the artist’s most famous painting Arrangement in Grey and Black Number One: Portrait of the Painter’s Mother, known as ‘Whistler’s Mother’ of 1871 (Musee d’Orsay, Paris). Such was the fame of the painting, ‘Whistler’s Mother’, that the French State purchased it for the people of France. Bill Hammond often takes a wry, yet cherishing, look at New Zealanders, showing women and men transformed into birds some of the country’s pre-human inhabitants. Yet, these birds express anthropomorphic aspects of age and gender, personality and character much like their human counterparts. Birds are transformed into other beings; sometimes they look like All Black rugby football players, or women who appear more in control of their lives than men. Hammond’s ‘birds’ may be seen in profile, like Whistler’s Mother, yet they all share as much expression in the representation of personality and character. (Sea Knowing and Island Looking, 2002)

Exhibition History

Auckland Art Gallery
Nine Lives
13 September - 23 November 2003
Curated by Robert Leonard

Auckland Art Gallery
Sea Knowing and Looking
29 June 2002 - 6 April 2003
Curated by Ron Brownson

Christchurch Art Gallery
Bill Hammond: Jingle Jangle Morning
20 June 1007 - 10 March 2008