The latest paintings by Hamish Foote comprise the exhibition The Face of Nature, which shows Foote to be continuing his exploration of the relationship operating between science and art. In contrast to his past exhibitions, however, that have been primarily concerned with flora and fauna, these new works showcase Foote’s mastery of portraiture.
The exhibition pieces are united around the history of the Auckland Museum, with Foote portraying some of the major figures responsible for shaping the Museum such as Thomas Cheeseman (1846 – 1923).
Stylistically, the exhibition is shaped by Foote’s interest in the style of Renaissance portraiture and the work of such renowned masters as the Flemish painter Hans Memling (c.1435 – 1494). In this manner, Foote’s panels feature a painted faux-wooden frame, background landscape and the addition of small symbolic items such as flowers or coins that relate specifically to the sitter. Furthermore, each panel is meticulously crafted from egg tempera, as a medium prevalent throughout the Renaissance.
These intimate panels clearly reflect Foote’s interest in the natural history of New Zealand, which he aptly expresses through his paintings.