Visions of Peace – two significant exhibitions.

Visions of Peace, The H.W. Youren Collection and the Art of Chinese Soft Diplomacy
Exhibition now on in Matariki Building, first floor
21 November-4 December

This exhibition presents a part of the collection of Chinese art from the H W Youren Collection, from MTG Hawke’s Bay, representing one man’s attempt to use art to promote communist China in post-war New Zealand. Bill Youren (1910-1983) was a tireless campaigner for world peace, nuclear disarmament and social justice. In 1950s and 60s China, he witnessed events seminal in the history of the foundation of the People’s Republic. Alongside public talks and published writings, he attempted to use art to present an alternative image of China to that offered by government and the mainstream press. This exhibition, and book of the same name, celebrates his life and the collection of Chinese art he amassed to promote New China to New Zealand.

Visions of Peace is supported by MTG Hawkes Bay, Tai Ahuriri and the University of Canterbury’s Confucius Institute.

Exhibition developed by Dr James Beattie (University of Waikato) and Dr Richard Bullen (UC Art History and Theory)

Puaka James Hight Display Case Exhibition

We are currently displaying a selection of books from the Macmillan Brown Heritage Collections intended to tie-in to the ‘Visions of Peace’ exhibition in the Matariki Building. Our selection includes both published and unpublished material, as well as first hand and secondary accounts of journeys to China by foreign visitors. The objects presented explore ideas of cultural exchange, host and visitor relations, and the documentation of difference over a period spanning 500 years.

2 thoughts on “Visions of Peace – two significant exhibitions.”

  1. Just popped in to Matariki to look at the renovations to the building and was delighted to see the Visions of Peace exhibition. Today is the last chance to see it as it closes today!

  2. For me, the fascinating part of Visions of Peace is the video, soundlessly depicting what seems to be a ‘visiting dignitaries’ view of 1950’s China – the unquestioning gaze of a true believer. The video alternates between the bland, public-face world of the modern worker’s paradise and the decorated splendours of ancient Buddhist temples promising a different kind of paradise – heavenly or spiritual. Paradoxically Youren’s video appears to want to linger most on the old kind of paradise. That is reflected in the traditional nature of the artworks in this exhibition which I found remote, staid, and a tad difficult to scrutinize properly as displayed in the dim lighting.

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