• PĀNiA!
  • Lisa Walker
  • Christopher Ulutupu
  • Becky Richards
  • Richard Reddaway
  • Bryce Galloway
  • Hanna Shim

Artistic absurdity is linked strongly with times of crisis and unease – the Dadaists during World War I, Surrealism in The Great Depression and World War II, Pop art in the Cold War, and the Punk Movement in Thatcher’s Britain. It is an artistic tool that is of particular interest as we become increasingly aware that we are at a cultural precipice – with climate change in evidence, as we grapple with the legacies of colonialism, witness worldwide threats to democracy, feel the effects of capitalism, and an ongoing pandemic. Kiss Me, Hardy! (but not like that) explores absurdity and celebrates artists who use the unexpected, humour and juxtaposition in their work to throw off our expectations and reveal inconsistencies in our world.

Art and humour can be salves in an uneasy world and rather than ignoring or wallowing in the face of the various crises we face, the artists in Kiss Me, Hardy (but not like that) offer insight, critique and relief. Lisa Walker, Becky Richards and Richard Reddaway interrogate value, materiality and consumerism, Christopher Ulutupu and PĀNiA! explore the development of identity in the face of colonialism, Hanna Shim looks at the various ways in which we understand and relate to each other within the contemporary context, while Richard Reddaway and Bryce Galloway question the narratives that dominate the artworld, each finding ways to interpret the world around us that is profoundly absurd.

The title of the exhibition, Kiss Me, Hardy! (but not like that), is an artwork by PĀNiA! It introduces her research into Nelson, that, as she says: “Began with an idea about place, or what it was an artist like me, who has never been to Nelson, knew about Nelson. Not a lot, except that Nelson was named after Horatio, Lord Nelson, one of the great warriors and sea-going ancestors I admire. ‘Kiss me, Hardy!’ was the last order Nelson gave to his trusted second-in-command, Captain Thomas Hardy, before dying in his arms, below decks, on board HMS Victory, at the Battle of Trafalgar on 21 October 1805. Kiss Me, Hardy! (but not like that) is funny, absurd and possibly mind-bending, but it is also deeply serious, poignant and contemporary all at the same time.”[1]

There is no simple path forward. We are facing an array of crises that each require complex solutions. Absurdism as a tool in art, and in the face of the challenges we face in contemporary life, is not a solution. It offers no golden ticket out of the mire, but it does offer hope, or at the very least a reprieve from despair. We cannot ignore the reality of the challenges of life and it would be easy to give up, but anyone “devoid of hope and conscious of being so has ceased to belong to the future.”[2]

Sarah McClintock

Suter Curator

[1] Email conversation with PĀNiA!, 26 February 2021. [2] Albert Camus, The Myth of Sisyphus: And Other Essays, Vintage, 2012, p.32.

Opening Hours

  • Open daily, 9:30am – 4:30pm


  • 208 Bridge Street
  • Whakatū, Nelson