Council Artworks on Display

8 March 2010

Did you know we've been collecting Wellington art since 1882? This continued on and off during the 1900s, mostly through gifts or bequests to the city. But in the last decade, we've had a dedicated advisory group buying Wellington art for the city's collection.

Exhibition installers with Para Matchitt's artwork

Exhibition installers with Para Matchitt's artwork

You may have seen a lot of the works already - around the Town Hall, in the Central Library on Victoria Street, or at our reception area on Wakefield Street. The Council's City Arts Manager, Martin Rodgers, says the collection preserves and retains "outstanding pieces of local art for generations of Wellingtonians to enjoy. Many of the pieces by well-known artists were purchased early in their careers".

Now an exhibition of some of the finest works from your collection is being held at City Gallery Wellington. Called We are Here, and There, the exhibition can be viewed from now until 16 May in the new Hancock Gallery (on the ground floor of City Gallery).

Martin says the collection belongs to Wellington residents and ratepayers, and that this is an exciting opportunity to display the works for the public.

"Having the works displayed in the Hancock Gallery will provide Wellingtonians with access to the works in the gallery setting - and admission is free.

"Big names make up the exhibition," says Martin. "Artworks by Charles Barraud, Toss Woollaston, Shane Cotton, Anne Noble and Wayne Barrar will be on display. People might also recognise a large waharoa [gateway] by Para Matchitt usually seen in the Central Library on Victoria Street - we're placing it in the Hancock Gallery for the next few months."

Martin says that back in 2002, we decided to start seriously acquiring artworks by Wellington artists.

"We allocated $20,000 a year for this. Not long after that, the Hancock Bequest enabled us to increase the amount to $30,000. This level of investment is minimal in comparison to most other municipal collections in New Zealand," he says.

To guide the Council's decisions about the collection, an Art Collection Advisory Group was established that same year. The group is made up of contemporary arts advocates - arts lecturers and curators, and the Council's arts portfolio leader, Councillor Ray Ahipene-Mercer.

There are 340 pieces in the collection and, combined, the works are worth an estimated $3 million.

The advisory group meets every few months to make recommendations to the Council about new acquisitions, donations and gifts, and they provide guidance on the collection and how it's displayed in and around our public buildings.

City Gallery is open Monday to Sunday from 10.00am to 5.00pm.

Not all of the collection has made it into this particular exhibition, but you can now view the entire collection on the City Art Collection part of this website.