Bill Hammond

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Bill Hammond
William Hammond

(1947-08-29)29 August 1947
Christchurch, New Zealand
Died30 January 2021(2021-01-30) (aged 73)
NationalityNew Zealand
EducationIlam School of Fine Arts[1]
Known forPainting

William Hammond (29 August 1947 – 30 January 2021) was a New Zealand artist who was part of the Post-colonial Gothic movement at the end of the 1990s.[2] He lived and worked in Lyttelton, New Zealand.[3][4] The theme of his works centred around the environment and social justice.

Early life[edit]

Hammond was born in Christchurch on 29 August 1947.[5] He attended Burnside High School.[6] He went on to study at the Ilam School of Fine Arts of the University of Canterbury from 1966 until 1969.[6][7][8] Before embarking on his career in art, he worked in a sign factory, made wooden toys, and was a jewellery designer.[9] He also had a keen interest in music, serving as the percussionist for a jug band.[5]


Hammond started to exhibit his works in 1980,[5] and went back to painting on a full-time basis one year later.[10] His first solo exhibition came in March 1987, at the Peter McLeavey Gallery in Wellington. This was followed by over 20 further exhibitions at the aforementioned gallery.[5]

One of Hammond's best known work was the painting Waiting for Buller (1993).[11] This was in reference to Walter Lawry Buller, the first New Zealander ornithologist who wrote A History of New Zealand Birds in 1873.[5] Hammond was particularly interested in the contradictions in Buller's life, in how he documented birds while being a hunter and taxidermist.[12] Another noted piece of his was Fall of Icarus (1995),[13] which explores the effects of the colonisation on the country,[9] and is exhibited at Christchurch Art Gallery.[5] The Guardian described this as "his most famous work".[9] His painting Bone Yard, Open Home (2009) was the largest single piece of canvas he painted,[6] with a width of more than four metres.[14]


The overarching theme of Hammond's work was social and environmental issues. Specifically, it touched on the imperiled state of both,[5] as well as the destruction brought on by colonisation.[9] His paintings feature two common themes: references to popular music and gaunt creatures with avian heads and human limbs.[15][16] The characters in Hammond's paintings, which were often anthropomorphic animals, rarely move away from their natural habitat and are in no hurry.[10] Humans are notably absent from his works during the later part of his career, which was influenced by his visit to the Auckland Islands in 1989.[5][9] Two signature colors employed by Hammond were emerald green and gold.[10] He was also at the forefront of the Post-colonial Gothic movement. This ultimately became "one of the most influential tendencies in New Zealand painting" at the turn of the 3rd millennium.[12]

Later life[edit]

Hammond eschewed giving interviews[9] and guarded his privacy.[6] He died on the evening of 30 January 2021, at the age of 73.[5] He was labelled as one of the country's "most influential contemporary painters" by Radio New Zealand.[5]



  1. ^ "Hammond paints to own rare beat in Christchurch Art Gallery show".
  2. ^ "Bill Hammond's private artistic vision". NZ Herald. 15 October 2000.
  3. ^ Paul Wood, Andrew (11 July 2017). "Art: Bill Hammond". Verve magazine. Archived from the original on 5 March 2018.
  4. ^ Simmons, Laurence; Armstrong, Philip (2007). Knowing Animals. ISBN 978-9004157736.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Bill Hammond, one of nation's most influential artists, has died". Radio New Zealand. 1 February 2021.
  6. ^ a b c d Van Beynen, Martin; Law, Tina; Kenny, Lee (1 February 2021). "Lyttelton legend' Bill Hammond remembered for his 'immense' contribution to New Zealand's art". Stuff. Retrieved 1 February 2021.
  7. ^ "Bill Hammond, one of New Zealand's most influential artists, has died". The New Zealand Herald. 31 January 2021. Retrieved 31 January 2021.
  8. ^ "Bill Hammond: Something is happening here". ArtNow. Archived from the original on 18 September 2020.
  9. ^ a b c d e f de Jong, Eleanor (1 February 2021). "Bill Hammond, renowned New Zealand artist, dies aged 74". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 1 February 2021.
  10. ^ a b c "Bill Hammond: Jingle Jangle Morning". Christchurch Art Gallery. 2007. Retrieved 1 February 2021.
  11. ^ Potts, Annie; Armstrong, Philip; Brown, Deidre (March 2014). A New Zealand Book of Beasts: Animals in Our Culture, History and Everyday Life. ISBN 9781869407728.
  12. ^ a b "Shag Pile". Christchurch Art Gallery. Retrieved 1 February 2021.
  13. ^ "Bill Hammond – Fall of Icarus". Christchurch Art Gallery. Retrieved 1 February 2021.
  14. ^ Jackson, Blair (1 October 2020). "A Bird in the Hand". Christchurch Art Gallery. Retrieved 1 February 2021.
  15. ^ Gate, Charlie (18 March 2016). "Christchurch artist Bill Hammond sells quake-damaged Lyttelton studio". Archived from the original on 3 February 2019.
  16. ^ Whitfield, Paul (September 2010). The Rough Guide to New Zealand. ISBN 9781405385480.
  17. ^ "Bill Hammond – Cornwall Road – Chartwell Collection of contemporary art".
  18. ^ "Living Large 6".
  19. ^ "Gladrap".
  20. ^ "Loading... | Collections Online – Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa".
  21. ^ "Bill Hammond". Sarjeant Gallery Whanganui. Retrieved 23 November 2020.
  22. ^ "Art Collection > "Twirl"".
  23. ^ "New Zealand art lands in V&A museum | New Zealand News UK".

External links[edit]