Kia ora koutou. Hello.
I want to let our supporters and art lovers know what we are doing in these difficult times, and how you can still find moments of relief and escape through art. Like much of the world, Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū is temporarily closed to our visitors and our staff. Like many of you are experiencing in your own lives, we’ve needed to figure out new ways of working, staying connected as a team, and working out what we can offer and ways that might help us to engage, inspire and connect you with great art and ideas.
Rather than dwell on the pandemic, I’d like to reflect on the importance of art in times like these, and outline the direction we’re setting out on together over the next few weeks.
Sadly, here in Ōtautahi Christchurch, we have become used to adversity. The earthquakes of 2011 saw the building closed to the public and an uncertain future. We never imagined that we’d stay closed for five years. But we made it through and developed a whole new way of staying connected and committed to the value and importance of art in people’s lives. Back then, like now, we were closed but very much open for business.
The terrorist events of just over a year ago made us reflect inwardly on our local communities and outwardly as part of an increasingly connected international community. Through these most difficult of times, the need for high-quality art, art engagement and art experiences has never been needed more. Art brings us together; it gives us space to breathe, a chance to reflect; and mindful moments alone in the madness all around.
Right now this feels at once strange and too familiar. This time we are isolated in or near our homes, sometimes with people and sometimes alone, which to my mind emphasises the need to connect, reflect and engage with and perhaps escape through art even more. We now have to navigate this new landscape – and as New Zealanders, history tells us, that’s one thing we’re very good at.
Here at the Gallery, we’re just settling into this new and hopefully temporary way of life. The team is adapting to working in a different way to bring you the access to art that we all need – be that for academic insight, entertaining children, the sparking of curiosity or having a bit of a giggle at our expense. We want you to come on that journey with us. The format for now will be digital. We will, as the weeks tick by, be bringing you new daily insights, education, fun, opinion and chances to explore your collection and your minds. So please, follow us, sign up across all of our channels, browse our website, build a My Gallery, dive deep into the collection online, comment and interact – but most importantly be kind and stay home.
Ngā manaakitanga. Best Wishes