The exhibition, Come on, Jack!, is based on Lovelock's own diaries and journals, held in the Alexander Turnbull Library, in which Lovelock meticulously recorded his thinking about race tactics and recounted his victories, and occasional defeats.
New material about the famous athlete will also be featured in the show. 'Much has been written about Lovelock over the years,' said exhibition curator David Colquhoun, 'but it is time that facts are separated from the many myths that have developed about his life.'
Lovelock dominated world middle-distance running in the mid-1930s. He broke the world mile record in 1933 and won the Empire Games mile gold medal the following year. Then, after a further series of exciting and well-publicised races against the world's top runners, his athletic career culminated with his dramatic 1500 metres gold medal win, in world record time, at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. The races between Lovelock and his rivals created enormous international interest and were widely reported in the sports press, radio and on film.
Of particular interest in Come on, Jack! will be film of Lovelock's pre-Olympic races, some of which has never before been seen in New Zealand.
'The most famous film of Lovelock running is the coverage of his great Olympic victory in Leni Riefenstahl's classic film Olympia. Excerpts from the film will be on show in the exhibition and there will also be special screenings of the entire film,' David Colquhoun said.
'Many people will have seen the Olympia sequence before, but newsreel coverage of the two other most important races in Lovelock's career will be featured in the exhibition. The first of these is the 1933 race in New York where he broke the world mile record. The second is the 1935 race against his American rivals promoted at the time as the "mile of the century". There is also home movie footage on Lovelock in New Zealand, and of the New Zealand Olympic team at the opening ceremony of the Games.'
Lovelock's victory at the infamous 'Nazi Olympics' is at the heart of the exhibition, but his whole life will be covered - his New Zealand youth, Rhodes scholarship at Oxford University, emerging fame as a runner, unorthodox training methods, career as a doctor and noted sports writer, and his strange death under a New York subway train in 1949.
The final part of the exhibition will look at the way Lovelock's life continues to fascinate New Zealanders. Streets, playing fields, and sports bars are named after him, and his life has inspired several books, a stage play and a film.
Many of the photographs in the exhibition have not been published before. Most have come from Lovelock's own comprehensive collection, but others have come from his family in America, and from other sources around the world.
'I know of no other New Zealand sports person who has left such a complete personal account of their career,' said David Colquhoun. 'His journals provide much more than just a summary of his races. They give an insight into Lovelock's personality, and show the extreme nervousness he suffered before his big races, his brilliant tactical mind, frank opinions about his rivals, and the sheer pleasure he got out of running.'
His gold medal and other trophies, kindly loaned by his old school, Timaru Boys' High School, will be on display. In addition to film of Lovelock's races, visitors will also be able hear contemporary radio broadcasts and interviews with people who knew him.
The exhibition's title comes from the famous BBC commentary (also in the exhibition) by Lovelock's friend Harold Abrahams. As Lovelock burst clear of the field on the last lap, Abrahams completely lost his English upper-class poise -
'Lovelock leads! Lovelock! Lovelock! Cunningham second, Beccali third. Come on, Jack! A hundred yards to go! Come on, Jack!! My god, he's done it. Jack, come on! Lovelock wins. Five yards, six yards, he wins. He's won. Hooray!!'
Come on, Jack! will be on show in the National Library Gallery from 7 July to 12 November. The Gallery is open seven days a week, and admission is free.
Susan Bartel, Promotions Manager