Alfred Sharpe

A jam in the lava cleft, Hay's Creek, Papakura

A jam in the lava cleft, Hay's Creek, Papakura by Alfred Sharpe

Artwork Detail

The deaf artist Alfred Sharpe wrote that he intended his paintings to serve as 'the "In Memoriam" of what will then be our historical forests'. Such a keen awareness of the ecological impact of colonisation was unusual in the nineteenth century, when most artists and writers preferred to celebrate the 'progress' represented by extractive forestry and the subsequent introduction of European species. A jam in the lava cleft, one of the most celebrated of Sharpe's works, depicts an accidental jam of kauri logs which have been floated down from the Hunua Ranges. Resembling a mysterious Doric colonnade at rest in the dark New Zealand bush, the smooth, pallid logs - once trees but now commodities - are juxtaposed with the rough volcanic cleft that has snared them. As a youth in Liverpool, Sharpe had been exposed to the Pre-Raphaelite landscape tradition, and in his voluminous writings he counselled artists to represent faithfully the new geological and botanical realities: 'To represent accurately the scenery of a totally new country we must divest ourselves of old-world and antiquated notions of art, and begin de novo at Nature's shrine'. While traditionally considered as little more than 'topographical' in motive, Sharpe's large-scale exhibition watercolours have belatedly been recognised as some of the gems of early New Zealand art - not least for their explicit critique of the colonial appropriation of the landscape. (from The Guide, 2001)

A jam in the lava cleft, Hay's Creek, Papakura
Alfred Sharpe
Production date
644 x 458 mm
Credit line
Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, gift of Mr John Leech, 1936
Accession no
Other ID
1936/23/D, 0/305 Old Accession Number, OCM 1346 Old Accession Number
No known copyright restrictions
New Zealand Art
Display status
Not on display

To find out which artworks are available for print requests and reproduction please enquire here. This service only applies to select artworks in the Gallery's collection.