Gordon Crook: 18 Maritimes at The Dowse

The Dowse pays tribute to the life of one of Wellington’s greatest artists, Gordon Crook 1921–2011. 

18 Maritimes is a suite of small tapestries depicting oceanic and nautical themes.  The series was purchased and first exhibited at The Dowse in 1996.  Crook took two years to complete the designs, researching pictures of fish, seaweed, or microscopic organisms.  The finished series, which also has supporting drawings, is a significant body of work which exquisitely portrays Crook’s expressive design, his abundant use of colour, and his acute attention to detail.  These tapestries were inspired by 18 miniature collages using colour photocopying techniques which Crook thought would really come to life in tapestries.

Sometimes Crook wove his own tapestries; other times he would create the design and hire a weaver to weave for him.  18 Maritimes were woven by Sue Batten at the Victorian Tapestry Workshop during 1995 and 1996.

Gordon Crook was born in Richmond, England in 1921.  His love for weaving began at an early age when he regularly viewed textiles at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.  After serving in the Royal Air Force in World War II Crook received a grant to study art at St Martin’s School, London.  In 1948 he began studying at London’s Central School of Art, noted for its innovative work in textile.  Crook graduated with a degree in textile design, and began tutoring and later lecturing there.  Seeking a quieter life, Crook immigrated to New Zealand in 1972 at the age of 52, moving into a 1925 cottage in Te Aro where he lived until his death this year.

Gordon Crook: 18 Maritimes opens on 5 November and entry is free.