Christchurch Art Gallery is Ten: Highs and Lows
In recognition of the anniversary of the move of Christchurch's public art gallery from its former existence as the Robert McDougall in the Botanic Gardens to its new more central city location (now eerily empty), I've been asked by Bulletin's editor to recall some highs and lows of the last ten years. So here goes — and stay with me during this reflection, which takes the place of my usual foreword.
Of course, I haven't been director throughout the entire ten-year period, and I can't take credit for arguing for this new building, nor for planning and watching over the detail of its development. That glory belongs to my predecessors, both John Coley and, latterly and more directly, fundraiser and director-on-the-spot, Tony Preston. It was a long journey, as Preston himself noted in 2003: 'Debate waxed and waned, troughed and crested, until in 1969 there was a recommendation as a matter of urgency for a new building to replace the charming, but quite inadequate McDougall...'1
Bulletin is an award winning,
image-rich publication with an
in-depth focus on current issues in art.
Tony Oursler Sang 2008. Fibreglass form, BluRay, BluRay player, projector. Courtesy of the artist and Jensen Sydney and Fox/Jensen Auckland
Curator Felicity Milburn on Tony Oursler and the grotesque.
On 10 May 2013, Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu turns ten. Which is fantastic. But it's probably fair to say that there's a bittersweet quality to the celebrations around this particular anniversary, as it also marks two years and eleven weeks of closure for the Gallery, and catches us staring down the barrel of another two years without our home.
It's frustrating. And then some.
However, we're not going to let these little, ahem, inconveniences get in the way of our party. Populate! is our birthday programme, and it's our attempt to bring some unexpected faces and figures back to the depleted central city. Bulletin spoke to the Gallery's senior curator Justin Paton about what he really wants for the tenth birthday, what he finds funny, and what he really doesn't.