Edward Bullmore: A Surrealist Odyssey

Research output: ThesisMasters Thesis


M.Phil thesis, exhibition and catalogue of the life and work of Edward Bullmore (1933-78).

This thesis examines the art of Edward Bullmore (1933-78), one of New Zealand's earliest Surrealists. Though it is three decades since his death, Bullmore's work has not been critically assessed, either as a Surrealist or within the greater context of New Zealand's art history. This study was inspired by the gift of a collection of 297 works by Bullmore's widow in 2006 to the Tauranga Art Gallery Toi Tauranga. Bullmore introduced a radically new approach to the tradition of New Zealand landscape art by expressing it through Surrealism and other aspects of international modernism. This resulted in a variety of figurative and abstract styles that explored the conscious and subconscious levels of New Zealand nationalism. New Zealand prides itself on a strong tradition of landscape art. Landscape as a subject, or beginning point, remained central to Bullmore's oeuvre. However because of his very personal adaptation of Surrealism, Bullmore's work sits outside of New Zealand's prevailing nationalism. Bullmore repackaged the New Zealand landscape in ways never seen or experienced before. Bullmore's international reputation had little impact on parochial New Zealand nationalism in his own time or subsequent decades. His work, well received and critiqued in Britain, did not enjoy the same accolades in New Zealand. The ambiguity of his work challenged New Zealand audiences in ways that had not occurred within the context of the nation's art canon previously. This thesis aims to redress this imbalance and position Bullmore as a Surrealist within New Zealand's art history. The exhibition component of this study is contained within the exhibition catalogue. However, the context and curatorial parameters of the exhibition are described and discussed in Appendix One (Part A). Installation photographs of the exhibition can be viewed in Appendix One (Part B). The catalogue of the works exhibited is contained in Appendix Four. Hosted by the Tauranga Art Gallery Toi Tauranga (15 June - 21 September 2008) the exhibition consisted of 69 works, sourced from the Gallery's own collection as well as private and public collections from throughout New Zealand. Bullmore is represented in ten public and civic collections nationwide yet the origins and significance of his contribution are little known.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationMaster of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Queensland
  • Butler, Sally, Principal Supervisor, External person
Award date01 May 2011
Publication statusPublished - 2011


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