World Builder presents the life and work of an extraordinary self-taught artist whose work has rarely been seen outside of Wellington. Strange, mysterious and deeply inventive, Bob Gerrard’s artwork gives a view into another world.
Gerrard’s sculptures and selection of nearly 50 paintings depict a surreal realm with its own peculiar logic. His large wooden Noah’s arks are decorated with intricate tableaux, crafted with both skill and humour. Populated with mermaids, animals, wondrous temples and gardens, the arks are their own floating worlds.
The paintings are from a series called El Bib, or Bible spelt backwards, with a cast including Jonah and the whale, Noah and his ark, Neptune, Santa and the Grim Reaper. Viewing El Bib feels like walking into a movie halfway through. From tourism possibilities at the North Pole to the eventual demise of Jonah’s marriage, the dramatic action is cuttingly hilarious.
Bob Gerrard (1928–2009) was born in Scotland but spent much of his adult life in Upper Hutt. He began to make art later in life after working as a carpenter, and, apart from attending the Upper Hutt Arts Society, learnt through experimentation and play. The Dowse is grateful to the Bob Gerrard family for their generous donation of his work.