Dublin Core


Sculpture: head


One bronze portrait of Rewi Alley.


Francis A Shurrock (1887-1977)


Bronze bust of Alley by Francis Shurrock, exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1939. This original bronze cast was lost in enemy action on way to New Zealand. The present bust was re-cast and donated to Canterbury Museum in 1958 by a group of friends of Alley, including Shurrock. It was exhibited at the opening of Canterbury Museum's Hall of Oriental Art in 1958.

In a letter to Roger Duff, entitled 'One thing leads to Another' (8 July, 1975), Shurrock described how he came to make the bust, having first met Rewi's brother, Geoff:

'I was invited to “Westcote” to meet Geoff’s people & on the 2nd occasion Rewi Alley was home on leave from the Shanghai Fire Brigade in China. He had gone there after failing for six (6) years to make a living with a war mate on some stony land in Taranaki.
Rewi & myself became friends & I asked him if he would pose for a modeled portrait but he would have none of it. I had noticed there was a particular bond between Rewi and his mother so I suggested that I should do the modeling & if she didn’t like it, the clay head could be thrown back in the clay bin. The bargain was made & Mrs Alley was brought to see the modeling & we left her alone with it for a while. She made no comment on going away; I was most disappointed.
However 2 days later I received a wonderful letter from her telling me how she had always thought of Rewi as a dear kind boy but had not noticed the strength of character.
So there it was I had won my bargain. The clay head was moulded & cast in plaster & this plaster head was in due course sent to London to be cast into bronze, accepted & exhibited in the Royal Academy Annual Exhibition.'

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“Sculpture: head,” China, Art and Cultural Diplomacy, accessed July 14, 2024, http://rewialleyart.nz/items/show/1196.