Tool Trays

Christine Hellyar1982

Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki

Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki

Like a backyard archaeologist, Christine Hellyar presents a variety of intriguing artefacts and objects in Tool Trays. While the presentation owes a debt to museum classification and display systems, the work also subtly undermines such practices.

By placing the work directly on the floor, Hellyar challenges the customary eye-level presentation in museums. She introduces an informality more reminiscent of an archaeological dig, creating a tension with the very precise arrangement of the objects. Each of the 14 trays have evocative names such as ‘Bird Stones for Brides’, ‘Birds of a Feather Flock’, ‘Women’s Grubbers’, ‘Moth Rocks on Sticks’, ‘Moth Rocks Not on Sticks’. The titles are both meaningful and meaningless – they are outside the realm of known terms, but it is easy to imagine the purpose and usages of the tools they describe. Hellyar does not impose a narrative, but rather invites viewers to invent their own understanding of an unknown people, place and time.

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  • Title: Tool Trays
  • Creator: Christine Hellyar
  • Date Created: 1982
  • Physical Dimensions: w800 x h45 x d2800 mm (entire)
  • Artist biography: Christine Hellyar was born in New Plymouth in 1947. She studied at Elam School of Fine Arts, University of Auckland in the late 1960s. In 1974, Hellyar lived in Cornwall, England and travelled around Europe visiting numerous museums and galleries. This focused her interest on the way museums collect and display ‘artefacts’, which is a major theme in her sculpture.
  • Type: Sculpture
  • Rights: Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, gift of the Friends of the Auckland Art Gallery, 1982, http://www.aucklandartgallery.com/about-us/contact-us
  • External Link: Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki
  • Medium: mixed media


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