SOLD Sandra Barlow's, Shelter
During the 1864 invasion of the Waikato by British troops, led by General Duncan Cameron, people of the village community of Rangiaowhia sheltered in what is now St. Paul’s Anglican Church (see photograph below). First built in 1856, the many times since renovated structure served as a shelter, from the fighting, for Maori elders, women and children (see graphic below that depicts the scene of conflict). Although the war destroyed this once flourishing farming area, east of Te Awamutu, the church has remained.
Sandra Barlow's watercolour painting, Shelter, dramatically captures this ominous atmosphere by returning the church to 20th February 1864, presenting it as isolated and vulnerable with ever darkening and threatening storm clouds that dominate the horizon. It is not too fanciful to imagine members of the community huddled together in prayer in the church. The windows are painted as fragile and unlikely to withstand any form of attack. Survival is at stake.
While making a clear political statement, this important composition also evokes New Zealand history in the same way that Rita Angus’s Cass, forever captures the New Zealand landscape. The man sat on the platform in Cass may represent a man of his times; the church represents an entire indigenous nation withstanding foreign hostility.
Although quickly sold from the recently launched the Welcome Swallow Gallery F5 exhibition, the painting will still be on display until mid-December. It is well worth a visit to the Gallery to see it before it enters a private collection.