On Saturday a gala dinner for Christchurch Art Gallery TOGETHER Foundation marked the illumination of Martin Creed's Work No. 2314, the latest artwork funded by the Foundation. Multi-coloured neon letters, over a metre tall, spell out EVERYTHING IS GOING TO BE ALRIGHT on the Gallery's south wall.
Reassurance and hope with a side helping of irony
At the dinner Gallery director Jenny Harper thanked Neil Graham, who prefers to be known as Grumps, for being our major donor for the Martin Creed work. She introduced the artwork as: "Understandable, witty, humorous, surprising...It gives us reassurance and hope. It puts smiles on our faces..."
Grumps also spoke about his gift to Christchurch, saying: ""The arts and the people who work in them have made a real difference to Christchurch after the earthquakes—they've helped the psyche of this city while it recovers."
Art critic Warren Feeney praised the work in The Press as: " A statement of hope that is also a reality check on the glibness of public messages of aspiration...the understated pessimism of Creed's neon sign should connect perfectly with residents—their frustrations and ambitions." He points out that Creed himself has noted: "I think you always have to kid yourself to make life bearable."
The dinner also provided an opportunity to thank the Gallery's TOGETHER Foundation supporters and announce three new strategic partnerships: Chapman Tripp, EY and Fulton Hogan.
A dinner auction raised $82,100 for the Foundation. The auction featured extraordinary experiences like a Fawlty Towers style dinner in the Gallery served by Jenny Harper and Blair Jackson and a tour of Christchurch Airport's air traffic control tower.
Celebrated New Zealand born chef Peter Gordon created the menu for the dinner, in collaboration with Martin Creed, inspired by his works. He worked with local firm White Tie Catering to serve up five courses, including delights like inari pocket, spiced dhal, curry leaves and cauliflower coconut raita.
The sell-out dinner packed 225 guests into the foyer of Christchurch City Council’s civic headquarters, across the road from the Gallery. As the Martin Creed work was illuminated guests spilled out into the forecourt, cheering, clapping and taking photos. And at 4.00 am in the morning when the guests had all gone home, Tynam McCulloch posted on our Facebook page: “I can see this from my hospital bed. Thanks guys.” It was a fitting postscript to a memorable evening.
Everything is Going to be Alright
Martin Creed's completely unequivocal, but also pretty darn ambiguous, work for Christchurch.
The artist uses a numbering system for his work. The words in this work read 'Everything is going to be alright.'
Blair Jackson has been appointed the new director of Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū.
The London Club
In September 2017, Gallery director Jenny Harper, curator Felicity Milburn and Jo Blair, of the Gallery Foundation’s contracted development services, Brown Bread, went to London, taking a group of supporters who received a very special tour of the city’s art highlights. While there, they further developed the Foundation’s new London Club. Recently they sat down together in Jenny’s office…
London's hottest chefs are coming to town – and you're invited to dinner!
Anticipation and Reflection
This is a time of considerable anticipation at the Gallery: Bridget Riley’s new work for Christchurch is due for completion in late May 2017. A wall painting, it’s the fourth of five significant works chosen to mark the long years of our closure for seismic strengthening following the Canterbury earthquakes of 2010–11. It has been paid for, sight unseen, by a group of wonderful women donors, with further support for costs associated with its installation secured by auction at our Foundation’s 2016 gala dinner.
Peter Stichbury's NDE
Anna Worthington chooses her favourite work from the Gallery collection.
On Saturday night artist Bill Culbert and chefs Margot and Fergus Henderson helped raise the bar for another extraordinary fundraiser from the Gallery and its Foundation
When 'Chapman’s Homer' was exhibited at the edge of the devastated central city in 2012, it was positioned between ruin and rebuild just outside the cordon in an empty lot on Madras Street. Our bull stood beside his seated brother while a red carved Steinway piano was played upstairs in an adjacent building. Over thirty days, Parekowhai’s work caught the public imagination as a symbol of the resilience of local people. At once strong and refined, a brutal force of nature and a dynamic work of culture, Chapman’s Homer resonated with local audiences. Subsequently, a public fundraising campaign kept the bull in Christchurch.
Chapman’s Homer was first exhibited in Venice, where Parekowhai represented New Zealand at the 2011 Venice Biennale. It travelled to Christchurch after being shown at the Musée de quai Branly in Paris. Over the past year, we’ve shown it at a number of sites around the city as part of the Gallery's Outer Spaces programme, including Worcester Boulevard, Placemakers Riccarton, New Regent Street, and most recently at Christchurch International Airport. And now the bull is back – standing strong in its permanent home at Te Puna o Waiwhetu Christchurch Art Gallery, welcoming visitors to our reopening exhibitions.