Gavin Hipkins

Empire (Loft)

Empire (Loft) by Gavin Hipkins

Artwork Detail

Gavin Hipkins’ Empire series employs the artist’s well-known technique of contrasting two photographically based images within the one photo-montage.

Wood engravings by renowned English illustrator Anton Lock are enlarged using a negative form and then juxtaposed with contemporary urban patches (embroidered tapestry decals intended for sewing onto clothing). This process coalesces archaic images from boys story-tales with decals used to embellish caps, trousers and jackets. It is as if past generation is meeting a current generation. Such layering of nostalgia with fashion and story-telling with bravado are characteristics in the entire Empire series.

In Empire (Loft) the background illustration depicts a group of musicians playing on-board an eighteenth century ship. The contrast with the word EVIL is both humorous and surprising. Daniel Palmer has described such pairings as 'strange asynchronous hybrids'. The oppositions appear on the cusp of what could be regarded as sinister. Hipkins's words for such oppositions are 'the post-colonial uncanny'.

The irony of sending illustrated books to Commonwealth countries as presents for boys at Christmas time fascinates Hipkins who questions the relevant meanings such volumes would have in the Antipodes. As with all works within the Empire series, the background illustration is sourced from Anton Lock's adventure stories for children illustrated in the Commonwealth and Empire annuals (1954-62).

Empire (Loft)
Gavin Hipkins
Production date
C-type print
1046 x 1296 x 62 mm
Credit line
Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, gift of the artist, 2016
Accession no
Copying restrictions apply
New Zealand Art
Display status
Not on display

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