He Waka Tuia exhibition celebrates work of late artist Edward Bullmore

Artist Edward Bullmore is finally getting his time in the Southland spotlight with a collection of his works being on display at He Waka Tuia.

Bullmore, born and raised in Balfour, was relatively well-known in the international art world, but when it came to his home, not many recognised him for his talents.

He Waka Tuia Art Curator Bridget Duncan said this exhibition was significant for our community he was such a prolific artist and his work is so diverse.

“He was such a prolific artist and his work is so diverse.

“Art to him was like a compulsion. He was talented at so many other things but in the end, it all came down to how he could produce art. He saw it everywhere.”

As a youngster, Bullmore’s passion for art was obvious. His parents even sent him to Christchurch Boys’ High School instead of Gore High, as it did not offer practical arts as a subject.

In Christchurch, he excelled not only in arts but in sports like boxing and especially rugby. When he left school he became a secondary school teacher as there were few jobs in the arts in New Zealand.

Later in life, Bullmore decided to study art in Florence, Italy, and then moved to London, which resulted in his works being exhibited alongside famous Surrealist artists such as Salvador Dali and Pablo Picasso.

With his reputation firmly in place, Bullmore decided to return to New Zealand to give his kids the chance to have a “Kiwi” upbringing.

Bullmore’s dream of transferring his established career to Aotearoa didn’t go as planned. Surrealism wasn’t as popular in New Zealand and the nudity in some of his artworks was uncomfortable for many, so he returned to his teaching career.

Bullmore died in 1978 at the age of 45. He had suffered from the degenerative bone condition Paget’s Disease and ultimately died of a heart attack on his wife’s birthday.

The exhibition at He Waka Tuia had been broken down into stages of his career so visitors could follow the progression of his work, Duncan said.

“He is our local unsung hero. I’m so proud that we are able to celebrate his talents here in his home region.”

Among the events He Waka Tuia is hosting to go alongside the exhibition is Beers & Bastards Pies – the opportunity to try specialty beer The Bullmore, created by local brewery Gadoochi, as well as feast on some kai put on by Fat Bastard Pies.  

More information about this and the other events being held can be found on the He Waka Tuia Facebook page here He Waka Tuia | Invercargill | Facebook.

The Edward Bullmore exhibition opens at He Waka Tuia on Saturday 13 May and finishes on 11 June.