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Sarah HilLary: Dolphin Afternoons

27 May - 6 August 2023

Dolphin Afternoons is a series of intimate, sometimes private scenes rendered small scale.  Composed of interior and exterior tableaux, this assembly of new and pre-existing dioramas by Tāmaki Makaurau based artist Sarah Hillary offer glimpses of iconic Aotearoa baches and beaches including Anawhata, Pārāwai and Waihi. Their tiny scale is important. Hillary works as Principal Conservator at Auckland Art Gallery and spends days looking at the surface of paintings through a microscope. Hillary began making her own work in earnest in 2003 when she was in her late forties.  Just as her day job sees her deciphering layers of time and discovering new and hidden knowledge, her own practice encourages close looking too, evoking a sense of wonder and surprise.


Dolphin Afternoons celebrates the quiet beauty of personal scenes. Honouring cherished memories of friends and family holidays, Hillary reconstructs these worlds for pleasure, depicting specific times or places reflected in their detailed décor and furnishings. Assembling these collections of special small things Hillary observes;

“Little gifts and things that remind us of people, are like family albums, full of clippings, invitations, photos, smears of glue and discoloured cellotape — they tell such a story of a life, of a time.”


Principal Funder

Annual Strategic Partners