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Record Image
Clark, Russell Stuart Cedric (New Zealand, b.1905, d.1966), Artist
Head of Maori Woman
Takaka marble
240 x 175 x 220 mm [h x w x d]
Collection of the Dunedin Public Art Gallery. Purchased 1964 with funds from the Dunedin Public Art Gallery Society.
Like Gottfried Lindauer and Charles Goldie before him, Russell Clark was strongly drawn to Maori as subject-matter for his art. His choice of subjects was, however, at once more varied and more ‘everyday’ than the high-born representatives of a ‘noble race’ favoured by his predecessors, and his approach was markedly less sentimental. His travels through remote areas of the country gave him an understanding of how New Zealand’s indigenous people really lived more than a century after colonisation, and he conveyed that in his acclaimed paintings and drawings of Maori life.
The influence of Henry Moore can be seen in both Clark’s painting and sculpture, although his work was for the most part more naturalistic and detailed in its approach to the human form than Moore’s. However, compared with the intricate detail in Goldie’s and Lindauer’s paintings or even Frances Hodgkins’ watercolour images, Clark’s depictions of Maori are dramatically simplified. This sculpture of an elderly Maori woman is characteristically bold in its forms; yet Clark still manages to convey her individuality and a sense of both strength and sadness. As in some of his other sculptures, the distinctive markings of the local stone add richness and vitality to the portrait.

not on view

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