Anna Miles Gallery



02/03/24 — 28/03/24

Many of Barbara Tuck’s paintings are imaginative distillations made in the wake of travel to notable ecological sites within Aotearoa and the centre of Australia. In contrast, her new paintings are fantastical excursions that interlace layers of cerebral and remembered adventure. Tuck, who has been painting for more than six decades, now finds herself occupied by realms between past and present, reality and dream.

Verde, the title Tuck gives her exhibition, comes from poet, Michele Leggott’s “Verde verde verde” from her 2007 collection, Journey to Portugal. The poem begins with a walk to a fountain in a jardim botânico on the site of an ancient Islamic city. However, the foothold of the succulent passages Tuck conjures is found closer to home, in the vegetative profusion of the West Coast of Te Waipounamu. Tuck’s earlier rapt encounters with this saturated terrain led to the Monkey Business and Slow degrees of Ocean paintings of the mid 2000s — and resulted in a working method sustained for more than a decade. Two decades on, her fresh appraisal of this ecology, made far away in a studio on the Helensville hillside, is simultaneously darker and more overtly wondrous.

Leggott’s poem asks the questions, “how many times do we come to the fountain? how many times do we drink?” For Tuck these are questions linked with human failures to comprehend and learn in a time of ecological frailty. Her titles and the paintings they are appended to: Carbon Memoir; Paparoa Mystics; Memory bank Oparara; Sporangia South . . . are strange redolent compounds. Paparoa and Oparara are both home to ancient limestone formations evocative of the incomprehensible geological time that renders the scale of human life insignificant. Untold millions of fragments of skeletal marine organisms contribute to these sedimentations. Such mysterious forms occupy Tuck in the studio while she listens to “passages of absolute sparkle” by composer and ornithologist Olivier Messiaen and moves her brush around ‘the realm of not knowing’, also known as painting.

Barbara Tuck was born in the Waikato 1943 and graduated with a Diploma of Fine Arts from Elam School of Fine Arts, University of Auckland Waipapa Taumata Rau in 1965. Tuck’s work has been exhibited in key surveys of painting in Aotearoa since the 1980s including Surface Tension(Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, 1992), A Very Peculiar Practice: Aspects of Recent New Zealand Painting (City Gallery, Wellington, 1995) and Necessary Distraction (Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, 2015). Tuck’s paintings are held in the collections of Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu, Waikato Museum Te Whare Taonga o Waikato, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Manatū Aorere, University of Auckland Waipapa Taumata Rau, Te Herenga Waka Victoria University of Wellington, and private collections in Aotearoa and Australia. Barbara Tuck – Delirium Crossing, a publication and travelling exhibition was developed by Anna Miles, Ramp Gallery WINTEC Te Pūkenga and Te Pātaka Toi Adam Art Gallery in 2022.

Paparoa Mystics, 2024
Oil on board, 600 x 600mm

Carbon Memoir, 2024
Oil on board, 600 x 600mm

Memory bank Oparara, 2024
Oil on board, 600 x 600mm

Makings of the sun, 2024
Oil on board, 600 x 600mm

Sporangia South, 2024
Oil on board, 600 x 600mm

We sang laments, 2024
Oil on board, 600 x 600mm