Yearbury display at Russell Museum made possible by generous gift

Papa-tu-a-nuku (Earth Mother), Pauline and James Yearbury, Russell Museum.  Russell Museum Collection.Russell Museum is delighted to announce a permanent display of Pauline and James Yearbury incised wooden panels is now available for viewing.  Thanks to a recent donation, by Judith Anderson, a New Zealander currently living in London, the new panel “Papa-tu-a-nuku” (Earth Mother), joins three others from the museum’s collection; Rongo-mara-roa” (God of Agriculture), “How Maui Made The Sun Slow Down” and an unnamed panel, on display in the Marie King Gallery. 

A local artist, Pauline Kahurangi (nee Blomfield) was accepted to Elam School of Art at 15.  She began teaching there at 17.  Talented and adventurous, Pauline not only challenged male Māori artists traditional domain of working with Māori legends and myths, she brought a new interpretation to them through her stylised figures and vibrant colour palette.  “Papa-tu-a-nuku” is a fine example of this. 

Pauline’s work is part of the ‘new era’ of Māori art now known as Māori Modernism, 1950-70.  Today, Yearbury is considered a significant Māori artist and is well-known for her incised wood panel designs and book, “The Children of Rangi and Papa, The Māori Story of Creation” (1976). 

Judith purchased “Papa-tu-a-nuku” between 1967 and 1976 at the Colonial Gallery in Russell where Pauline designed and James incised the panels. 

 “ It is a piece which I love, but it is difficult to find a good place to hang it in my cottage in London as it is a very strong picture and overpowers this small environment, so it has been stored away in a cupboard which is a shame. I saw your museum newsletter on the internet and noted that James Yearbury (1921-2008) had left the museum a collection of Pauline’s work in his will and it occurred to me that I could donate my piece to that collection.”

Russell Museum thanks Judith for her generosity and extends an invitation to all to come and view the new display.  Russell Museum is open 10:00 am to 4:00 pm daily.

Photo courtesy of Russell Museum.