Moving Along the History Wall

Rob Taylor

12 Feb– 28 March 2021, Bottle Creek Gallery

An exhibition of paintings by Porirua artist, Rob Taylor, that invites the rediscovery of this local artist’s legacy.

Rob Taylor (1945-1997) was an artist, teacher and critic who lived in Porirua. His large-scale immersive oil paintings are clever abstractions of personal and historical narratives. Born in Scotland, Taylor’s work reflects his life experiences and dual citizenship.

The exhibition title refers to both the viewing experience and the context of Taylor’s History Wall panels. Spanning 15-metres over twelve panels, this polyptych represents a historical timeline of personal and canonical progression. Viewers are encouraged to move along the panels—looking closely, the small details revealing hidden abstractions, while a wider view provides an extensive timeline.

History Wall is representative of a life’s work. Added to throughout his career, Taylor delivered it to Porirua’s Page 90 Gallery (now Pātaka Art + Museum) in 1997 shortly before his death, the painting ‘still virtually damp’. It was displayed in what turned out to be Taylor’s last exhibition while alive—a poetic completion for both the painting and his life.

Taylor was passionate about the Porirua community and in 1997 received a Porirua City Civic award. He said of Page 90’s commitment to local artists, “It was as important for Porirua to have an art gallery to exhibit local talent as it was for trees to have leaves”. Pātaka’s Bottle Creek gallery continues this legacy as a community art space.

Rob Taylor arrived in Dunedin from Scotland in 1955. He studied at Dunedin Art School in 1963 before returning to the UK in 1964 to study for two years at West Sussex College of Fine Arts. From 1967, Taylor had over 50 exhibitions as a painter. Taylor was Head of Art at St Patricks College in Kilbirnie from 1973 and was a founding member of the NZ Art History Teachers' Association. For a decade from 1981, he was an art critic for The Dominion newspaper.