Blair Jackson, March 2018

Blair Jackson, March 2018

Familiar landscape for our new director


Blair Jackson has been appointed the new director of Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū.

He will take over from Jenny Harper, who is stepping down after 11 years.

Blair, who was previously the Gallery’s deputy director and curatorial, collections and programmes manager, says his “focus will be on expanding and broadening our audiences and exploring new ways of engaging visitors with our exhibitions programme”.

“Galleries are no longer just showcases that we visit to see the creativity of others,” he says.

“They need to be places that encourage the experiential; a place for us to interact with, take risks and develop our own creativity. The ability to think creatively is, now more than ever, one of the most important human resources.

“I am extremely lucky to have a very talented team. I know them well and love working with them. The gallery is also fortunate to have a fantastic group of supporters and commercial partners.

“It is so good having the Gallery open again after being closed for five years, but we’ve only just begun. There’s so much more that we want to do.”

A University of Canterbury School of Fine Arts graduate, Blair describes himself as “an artist in a previous life”.

“A fine arts degree offers more options than being an artist,” he says. “For me, gallery life took over.”

Blair initially worked as a gallery assistant at the Canterbury Society of Arts – now known as CoCA – before being appointed registrar at the Manawatu Art Gallery.

Prior to moving to Christchurch, he was exhibitions manager at the Dunedin Public Art Gallery and Otago Settlers Museum.

An alumni of the prestigious United States-based Getty Leadership Institute for museum leaders, Blair took up his deputy director role in 2006, a week after Jenny took the Gallery reins.

“I want us to continue to build great collections, work with innovative artists and build new audiences through outstanding exhibitions and audience-focused programmes,” he says.

The selection panel has described Blair as the “standout” in an impressive list of international and domestic candidates for the role.

Jenny is “delighted” with the appointment. “We are fortunate to have a leader of Blair’s calibre who is well equipped to capitalise on the multiple opportunities for growth and development in our regenerating city,” she says.

“Blair also brings fresh perceptions and practices to drive greater gallery engagement.”

Blair will move into the role on 3 April.