New exhibition examines NZ war memorials through the lens of their architect

07 August 2017

A new exhibition introduces Christchurch architect Samuel Hurst Seager’s work as New Zealand’s official battlefield memorial architect from 1920 –1925 through his own photographs.

  • Seager_memorial

    A crowd gathered at the unveiling of the Chunuk Bair battlefield memorial on 12 May, 1925.

An exhibition called ‘Constructing Memory: Samuel Hurst Seager and New Zealand’s First World War Battlefield Memorials’ is now open at the University of Canterbury’s Matariki Gallery. Its photographs, many previously unseen, were taken by Christchurch architect Samuel Hurst Seager (1855–1933) to record the construction of the memorials he designed at Longueval and Le Quesnoy in France, Messines and Gravenstafel in Belgium and Chunuk Bair at Gallipoli, Turkey.

The exhibition features photographs from UC Art History and Theory’s Lantern Slide Collection, which Seager donated to Canterbury College in 1928. There are also drawings and reports on display from Seager’s personal archives at the University’s Macmillan Brown Library and images from Archives New Zealand.

One of New Zealand’s most celebrated architects, Seager was also a lecturer in the Canterbury College School of Art (now UC School of Fine Arts) for over twenty years. After he was appointed to the role of NZ’s official battlefield memorial architect, he designed and oversaw the construction of the five memorials.

‘Constructing Memory’ opened in the same week as the centenary of the Third Battle of Ypres at Passchendaele and features images of the memorial commemorating the Battle of Broodseinde, a key part of the Passchendaele campaign during which the New Zealand Division that took place on 4 October 1917.

The exhibition is part of a Lottery Grants funded research project to digitise historic lantern slides in UC Art History and Theory’s collection. It is held in conjunction with a symposium focusing on the visual cultures of remembrance after the end of the First World War on September 2nd.

‘Constructing Memory: Samuel Hurst Seager and New Zealand’s First World War Battlefield Memorials’ runs until 4 September at the Matariki Gallery, University of Canterbury, Ilam campus. Open 9am–5pm, Monday to Friday.

For further information please contact:

Margaret Agnew, Senior External Relations Advisor, University of Canterbury
Phone: +64 3 369 3631 | Mobile: +64 275 030
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