A multidisciplinary project exploring Samuel Butler’s 1872 utopian novel Erewhon: Over the Range.
Retracing Butler‘s footsteps, Free Theatre and our collaborators are exploring the historical, fictional, cultural, political, spiritual and musical dimensions to his journey ‘Over the Range’. We are experimenting with various old and new forms of gathering and documenting this research which will take place in both the virtual and real world. Our aim is to turn it into a contemporary search for an ´Erewhon` of today.
Canterbury has a rich history (tāhuhu korero) with a multitude of perspectives, most obviously Pakeha and Ngāi Tahu. We are gathering and documenting the stories connected to the geographical locations featured in Butler’s novel.
To document our research and discoveries we will, like Butler, take photographic portraits and write notebooks. We will also film interviews, compose music, and share our research ‘journey’ online with you here on our blog.
Half length portrait of Samuel Butler when an undergraduate, circa 1858. Photographer unidentified. NatlibNZ
Interview with Aaron Hapuku at Te Mata Hapuku (Birdlings Flat).
Club Member (and Past President and General Manager) Mr John Wilson
Interview with Hohepa Bowen in Lyttelton.
Nev and Sue Sinclair, Greta Valley.
Bronwen Summers and John Minto, Waltham Seven Oaks Community.
Ollie and Vanessa, Waltham Seven Oaks Community. Tiny House.
Roger Ewer at Barrytown Hall on the West Coast.
Other artistic projects inspired by Erewhon and Butler's time in Aotearoa:
- Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World (1932). Novel.
- George Orwell’s 1984 (1949). Novel. - Orwell praised Butler’s novel in a radio broadcast at the end of WWII commenting that it required "imagination of a very high order to see that machinery could be dangerous as well as useful."
- Frank Herbert’s Dune (1965). Novel.
- Félix Guattari and Gilles Deleuze’s Anti-Oedipus (1972). Book.
- Anne Shelton's Erewhon (2002). Exhibition. Ramp Gallery, Hamilton.
- Robert Hood's Samuel Butler (My Rifle, My Pony and Me) (2008). Single-channel video, colour, sound, continuous. Part of Christchurch Art Gallery Group Exhibition Out of Erewhon: New Directions in Canterbury Art (2006-07).
- Audio Foundation’s anthology edited by Bruce Russell Erewhon Calling (2012). Anthology.
- Gavin Hipkins’ Erewhon (2014). Feature Film.
- Arthur Meek’s Erewhon Revisited (2017). Theatrical Production.
- Gavin Hurley's Big Sam (2017). Painting. Oil on Linen.
- Jasmine Gallagher's A Death On-Board the Voyage from Gravesend to the Antipodes (2019). Poem.
- Simon Palenski, Tjalling de Vries and Peter Vangioni's Pathways of the Flats’ (after Samuel Butler’s A First Year in Canterbury Settlement) (2019). Prose poems and linocuts. Published by Kowhai Press
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