A Surrealist Odyssey is an extensive survey exhibition of Edward Bullmore, considered to be one of New Zealand’s earliest Surrealist visual artists.
Surrealism is a visual ‘stream of consciousness’ where the real world is filtered through the artist’s subconscious, manifesting into images that are often ambiguous and have different interpretations for viewers. Largely a Western European style, Surrealism has never been widely accepted in New Zealand, although it was in Australia.
Bullmore challenged the constraints of the New Zealand’s predominately nationalist art canon of the time, with his Surrealist fusion of the New Zealand landscape and the human form, and it was not until he traveled to Europe and England that he achieved success as an artist.
Bullmore taught to support his art career. His first teaching post was in Tauranga Boys' College in the late 1950s, during which time he held his first solo exhibition as guest artist of the Tauranga Art Society. Many of the works from this exhibition have since remained in local collections and are included in A Surrealist Odyssey.
Bullmore spent the next decade in Europe where he enjoyed exhibition success in several private and public British galleries. Film director Stanley Kubrick purchased two of his works, one of which appears in the cult movie, ‘A Clockwork Orange’. However he grew homesick, returning in 1969 to teach in Rotorua until his death in 1978, aged only 45.
In 2006, his widow Jacqueline, gifted a large collection of his works to the Tauranga Art Gallery in memory of the time he spent in Tauranga as a teacher and emerging artist.
Although Bullmore’s work was well received in Britain it has gained little attention in New Zealand; Surrealism has not traditionally been included in New Zealand’s art history. EDWARD BULLMORE A Surrealist Odyssey seeks to redress the neglect of this significant New Zealand artist.