Billy Apple®

In May the Contemporary Benefactors spent a special evening with Billy Apple® and Wellington curator Christina Barton. Barton has had a long professional association with Apple and was the driving force behind bringing the largest retrospective of Apple’s work, The Artist Has to Live Like Everybody Else, to the Auckland Art Gallery.

Christina Barton talks the Contemporary Benefactors through the Billy Apple® show at the AAG May 2015

Billy Apple® was born Barrie Bates in Auckland, New Zealand in 1935. Having left school with no qualifications, he took a job as an assistant to a paint manufacturer while attending evening classes in graphic design at the Elam School of Fine Arts. In 1959 he left New Zealand on a National Art Gallery scholarship to study at the Royal College of Art in London alongside artists such as David Hockney, Allen Jones and Derek Boshier. Collectively, they would go on to spearhead the emergence of British Pop Art.

The turning point in Apple’s career came after he graduated in 1962 when he invented Billy Apple®, changing himself into a brand and an artwork. There was no turning back after this point; he altered his look by bleaching his hair, trained himself not to respond if people referred to him as Barrie and refused to contact his family. Apple says “I suppose it’s like coming out, it gave me freedom, I was my own subject matter. It was a brand new thing”

self portrait apple
Billy Apple® Self Portrait 1963
gold apples
Billy Apple® Bronze Apples

A pivotal event for Apple was the 1964 exhibition The American Supermarket, a show held in Paul Bianchini’s Upper East Side gallery. The show was presented as a typical, small supermarket environment but with the products created by prominent pop artists, including: Billy Apple®, Andy Warhol, Claes Oldenburg, Tom Wesselmann, Jasper Johns, Mary Inman, James Rosenquist and Robert Watts.


Billy Apple® “The American Supermarket” 1964

In her talk Barton noted that “at art school Billy took a hands off approach to making art”. He gave away his camera, stopped drawing and painting and instead used specialised photographers, printers and typographers. It was very much like working as a creative director in the advertising world. As Apple says “I didn’t want to spend 10 years learning how to mould a peeled banana. There were people around who were fantastic at doing that.”

Apple also treated his clients as collaborators. Requiring them to enter into the process of creating the artwork while at the same time broadening the definition of art. For Apple, art was not about making objects, it was about generating ideas. “I was interested in ideas, the relationship between text and image, picture and headline. Advertising had a language that art didn’t have at the time, which gave it a structure” says Apple.

neon apple

In 1975 Apple returned to New Zealand for the first time in sixteen years. At his exhibition Art for Sale at Peter Webb gallery in 1980 he exhibited a series of paintings that were in effect receipts as payment to the artist. This was followed by a series called Transactions. The law firm Minter Ellison Rudd Watts, for example, has a number of canvases in the company collection stating the amount of credit extended to Apple over the years.


Billy Apple® “Art For sale” at Peter Webb Gallery 1980

In 2008 Apple was approached by the scientist, Craig Hilton, to create a project titled The Immortilisation of Billy Apple®, in which cells taken from Apple’s blood were scientifically altered using a virus to cause them to continue regenerating indefinitely. These are cells used for cancer and immunology research. The new cells are now available to other artists who may want to make them into art work (although Apple did point out that it would depend on what they wanted to use them for!). The modified cells are held at both The University of Auckland School of Biological Sciences and in the United States at the ATCC Global Bioresource Centre. This is the first time an artwork has been stored in such a way. Some of the cells are on show in an incubator in the Auckland Art Gallery exhibition.

In conjunction with Saatchi and Saatchi, Apple continues to extend his product range and has a special Apple cider and a Billy Apple® coffee blend.

cider apple
Billy Apple® cider

Even at 80 years of age Apple is still working on new ideas. In an interview with the art critic Anthony Bryt he commented ”I’m living in a 79 year-old body, and it’s hard. The mind’s quicker than the body. But the comforting thing is that, with the cells out there, there isn’t really an end for me. There is no final date. Can you name any other artist In the world who’s done that? Nobody”.

Billy Apple
Billy Apple®

With around 200 works, this is one of the largest survey exhibitions of an artist that has been shown at the Auckland Art Gallery.

For more information on Billy Apple® go to

Interview with Christina Barton

For the interview with Anthony Byrt

NZ Herald Interview with Greg Dixon

Information evening – Experience Frieze week in London (12-16th October 2015)

Each October the international art world descends on London as Frieze London, one of the world’s most respected contemporary art fairs, enables people to see and buy the work of more than 1000 of the world’s most important contemporary artists. At the same time, every gallery and museum in London puts on their most exciting shows, for the international audience.

In 2014 Auckland-based former Londoner, Stephanie Post, designed a five-day programme especially for New Zealand collectors to visit Frieze London, and at the same time, experience the full breadth of the London art world, through a bespoke programme of visits to artists’ studios, private collections galleries and museums. For 2015, she is offering a similar programme, and we are pleased to invite you to come and find out more about last year’s visits and what she is organising for this year. Highlights of 2014 included private collections in Mayfair and Kensington, a private guided tour of the Anselm Kiefer exhibition at the Royal Academy, a tour of the viewing rooms as well as the exhibition spaces at White Cube and several studio visits.

Over a glass of wine, you will hear, not only about attending Frieze Preview day as a VIP, but also Frieze Masters, which offers a carefully selected presentation of approximately 120 leading galleries exhibiting iconic works of art ranging from the ancient era and old masters through to art of the 20th century. In between Frieze and Frieze Masters, in the beautiful setting of The English Garden in Regents Park, The Frieze Sculpture Park shows a selection of contemporary and historical sculptures, selected from Frieze and Frieze Masters. At the same time, every arts organisation in London, from the smallest artist-run space in the East End, to Tate Modern and the Royal Academy, put on an exciting array of shows and exhibitions for the international visitors to London. As someone who worked in the London art world for more than 10 years, Stephanie will make sure that you get to places you would never find on your own and gain an insight into what it is that makes London a centre of the contemporary art world.

Details for the evening are Tuesday May 19, 7.30-9pm, 18 Taurarua Tce, Parnell.

Please rsvp to  (027 316 0332)

Michael Stevenson

Michael Stevenson Serene Velocity in Practice: MC510 & CS183 11 November 2017–18 February 2018

Berlin-based artist Michael Stevenson presents his first solo exhibition for a New Zealand public gallery in over 15 years. For this occasion, Stevenson has developed the significant large-scale work Serene Velocity in Practice. This representation of a learning extension facility is based on two diverse and unrelated academic courses: MC510    & CS183. As the codes indicate, these were actual courses taught for a short time in Californian higher-learning institutions and both espouse a distinctly Californian way of thinking. Each was transformative in its respective field and each quickly developed a mass following globally, promulgating bestselling books, and a multitude of spinoff courses.

Mission class 510, or MC510, was the code used by the Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, for a new course taught in the winter semester of 1982. John Wimber of the Vineyard Ministries became synonymous with this programme for four years, using it as a testing ground for his radical ideas in the experiential realm of miraculous healing and exorcism. Wimber ventured to redistribute the spirit world via practical sessions in this accredited course dubbed as ‘clinics’ for the willing. Twenty years into the future, in the spring semester of 2012, Stanford University’s Computer Science faculty employed Silicon Valley entrepreneur and venture capitalist Peter Thiel to teach CS183, the course code for ‘Startup.’ CS183 provided a forum for Thiel’s new intellectual framework in which he analysed case histories of failure from the tech industry’s recent past, while self-consciously modelling a future of exponential progress where miracles are worked in the space of technology.

These two courses have remained unrelated until now as Stevenson re-situates them, together, in a large-scale sculptural installation, or mini campus: two conjoined structures reflecting and illuminating each other. The historical legacies of these courses are united by the artist in a newly accelerated learning environment in which their endgames are tested. One is constructed from airline comfort blankets and elevated on large commercial aircraft tyres; the other built entirely from radiating black anodised aluminium heat sink. A familiar walkway based on the universal passageways of post-war educational institutions unites the two rooms and simultaneously disorientates the viewer.

For Thiel and Wimber the teachers, the repetition of received knowledge prevents the generation of real change, what Thiel calls ‘vertical progress’ and Wimber terms ‘paradigmatic shifts’. In order to grow and mentor new possible ‘communities of practice’, both MC510 and CS183 taught the abandonment of past (failed) models and the old institutions of knowledge, in favour of full participation in the mission for a radical future. For both parties, the quest for breakthrough (true entrepreneurship) would be won not in the ivory tower, but on the streets from Anaheim to Palo Alto. Not literal streets of course, but closer to what Californian educational theorists Jean Lave and Etienne Wenger called the spaces of ‘legitimate peripheral participation’. Like much of the movement from ‘real world’ fact into the ctive space of the work, here Stevenson’s own hybridised aesthetic language models an addled pathway within the new learning facility beyond the here and now to wonderment.

Serene Velocity in Practice is curated by Natasha Conland, commissioned by the Auckland art Gallery Toi o Tämaki with commissioning partners the Biennale of Sydney, 2018 and Monash University Art Museum, MuMA.

Michael Stevenson (born 1964, New Zealand) has lived in Berlin for over 15 years. He is known for adopting an anthropological approach that often attracts moments of irrationality. His ambitious sculptural practice over many years appears to map historical narratives from certainty to ruin, mathematics to miracles, secrets and exchange. Signi cant recent projects have been seen at Kunsthal Charlottenborg, Copenhagen (2015) Dojima River Biennale, Osaka (2015), Sculpture Center, New York (2015), Liverpool Biennial (2014), Berlin Biennale (2014), Michael Lett Gallery, Auckland (2013), Portikus, Frankfurt am Main (2012), Museum Tamayo, Mexico City (2012).

Spring Newsletter 2016

Walter’s Prize Walk Through with Natasha Conland

Contemporary Benefactors who braved the chilly evening to attend the walk-through of the Walters Prize finalists were well rewarded. Contemporary Curator Natasha Conland explained the selection process and how the prize is judged, and shared background on the four works on show. The Walters Prize has a reputation for being challenging, and this year is no exception. All four works comprise digital media explorations of how our past relates to our present. The experience of each was hugely enriched by Natasha’s explanation of their back story.

Our great thanks also go to Ivan Anthony for his entertaining explanations, on the rich collection of paintings and objects, which made up his June show Provenance.

Coming up at Auckland Art Gallery this quarter are three new exhibitions. The first is an historic survey of artist Gottfried Lindauer. The Maori Portraits: Gottfried Lindauer’s New Zealand, with over 120 portraits, is a unique occasion to view the work of this important figure in the Gallery’s establishment and history, opening night 23 October. This is followed by an exhibition of Taiwanese contemporary artist, Lee Mingwei. Lee Mingwei and his relations: The Art of Participation, developed by Mami Kataoka for Mori Art Museum, Tokyo, and adapted for Auckland Art Gallery, opens Friday 4 November. Then on Friday 26 November the survey exhibition Ann Shelton: Dark Matters opens in the Chartwell Galleries and offer a fresh prospective on this prominent New Zealand photographer.

Key Events: September to November  2016

Meet Artist Oscar Enberg

Tuesday 11 October from 6.30pm

Hopkinson Mossman

Auckland Artist Oscar Enberg has been commissioned to present the next North Terrace sculpture opening early in December. Please join in this opportunity to hear Oscar talk about the background of his work, meet him and ask any questions you may have about his process and practice.

North Terrace Opening

Oscar Enberg: Troubles de la croissance (der ursprung des pendels)

Friday 2 December 6pm

Please join us on Auckland Art Gallery’s North Terrace for a glass of Christmas champagne to celebrate the unveiling of the new North Terrace sculpture made possible by support from the Contemporary Benefactors and the Chartwell Trust.

Oscar Enberg Sire So-and-So or Richard Pågen, 2014 installation view: Johan Berggren, Malmö, Hopkinson Mossman Gallery

Please contact Charlotte Swasbrook, for more information

For more information on the Walter’s Prize go to the Auckland Art Gallery website

We would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your support of Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tämaki. Your donation is going towards contemporary art exhibitions, publications and extensions to the Auckland Art Gallery public programme.



Winter Newsletter 2016

It has been a busy quarter again, with an inspiring lunchtime talk from photographer Fiona Pardington that included plenty of illuminating anecdotes about her photographic career. Most recently we supported the exhibition Space to Dream: Recent Art from South America in enabling a number of artists to come to New Zealand to install work and present in the opening visitor programme. Key among these was renowned Chilean artist Alfredo Jaar, who gave an unforgettable keynote lecture on the evening of 3 May. There was an opportunity to meet Alfredo that evening and he and other artists at the stakeholder preview of Space to Dream on Thursday 5 June. Our support also made it possible for the works of Brazilian artist Lygia Clark to come to Auckland, and that evening we saw her Sensory Masks and suit, The I and the You, in action!

Other stand-out events included artists’ talks over the opening weekend, which were attended by 674 visitors. The exhibition is receiving excellent reviews and recommendations, so please spread the word about the three South American themed weekends to come on 16/17 July, 20/21 August and 10/11 September. Be sure to check the Art Gallery website for details.


Key events July — September 2016

Dealer Gallery Visit

Thursday 23 Jun 6.30pm Ivan Anthony Gallery

Several of the Contemporary Benefactors joined esteemed Auckland gallerist Ivan Anthony who will introduced our Contemporary Benefactors group to his latest exhibition Provenance, which included ‘old masters’ in the company of New Zealand contemporary artists. This is the latest in our series of private introductions to Auckland dealer galleries.




The Walters Prize 2016 – An Introduction

Fri 5 Aug 6.30—8pm Auckland Art Gallery, Level 2, Members Lounge

Join exhibition curator Natasha Conland for an exclusive introduction to the Walters Prize 2016, New Zealand’s Contemporary Art Prize.

As the biennial industry award for contemporary art, this exhibition and prize nomination is often the most talked about event in our exhibition calendar. Come along for a glass of wine, an exhibition tour, and a behind- the-scenes account of the exhibition and nominated artists.

The Walters Prize Dinner

We have a date! The biennial Walters Prize Dinner will be held at the Gallery on Friday 30 September. Please await the press release and letter of invitation for more news on the most prestigious black tie award dinner

in our calendar. Make sure you don’t miss out on this opportunity. Get in early to purchase tickets or your table.

Please contact for more information.

 As a Contemporary Benefactor you will also receive invitations to exclusive openings run by Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki. Please contact Charlotte Swasbrook if you are not receiving these invitations

We would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your support of Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki. Your donation is going towards contemporary exhibitions, publications and extensions to

the Auckland Art Gallery public programme.




Space to Dream: Recent Art From South America

Space to Dream: Recent Art Of South America

The contemporary Benefactors enjoyed an exclusive pre-view of Space to Dream: Recent Art from South America, at the Auckland Art Gallery.

Co-curators Zara Stanhope and Beatriz Bustos Oyanedel discussing Maria Nepomuceno’s Grande Boca (Big Mouth) (detail) 2013

Co-curators Beatriz Bustos Oyanedel from Chile and Dr Zara Stanhope, Principal Curator at Auckland Art Gallery, walked us through the exhibition, along with South American Artists, Alfredo Jaar, Joaquin Sánchez and Máximo Corvalán.

Space to Dream is the first major exhibition in Australasia to introduce, in depth, the art of South America. The exhibition reveals how South American artists see a social significance for their work and how as rebels and revolutionaries, dreamers and poets, they have challenged, embraced, explained or transformed their realities, lives, cultures and spaces from the 1960s to today.

Kriselle Baker, Alfredo Jaar and Zara Stanhope in front of Joaquin Sanchez’s  Chaco 2012

Space to Dream includes the work of 41 artists and collectives across six countries – Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia and Uruguay. The exhibition includes senior figures internationally recognised for their contribution to art as well as younger figures including Lygia Clark, Juan Fernando Herrán, Alfredo Jaar, Marcos Lopez, Ernesto Neto, Hélio Oiticia, Bernardo Oyarzún, Lotty Rosenfeld, Martín Sastre and many more.

Oyanedel says, “it is a space of creativity, a space of possibility and a space about the cultural history of our region. It is a space to dream and a space to build society. “



Joaquin Sanchez discussing his work, translated by Beatriz Oyanedel. Rhana Devenport and Jim Farmer trying on Lygia Clark’s Mascara Sensorial (sensorial Mask) 1667,2016

Stanhope says “The exhibition has been curated to be seen as a whole and not chronological, or by Artist, Country or a particular subject matter. Although, there are a number of different themes, which run through the whole exhibition. There is a sense of memories that are being redrawn and resurfacing. There is also a great deal of humour and positivity in the works. There are different themes throughout the exhibition, such as revolution, memories, cultural origins, the blending of different ethnicities, through to the idea of new possibilities and new horizons.”

Space to Dream: Recent Art from South America is on from 7 May – 16 September. With masks and clothes to try on and artwork you can touch and smell, it is also an exhibition that will engage the whole family.

This exhibition was made possible with the help of the Contemporary Benefactors who contributed to the funding of Space to Dream: Recent art from South America.

Contemporary Benefactors enjoying dinner with Alfredo Jaar, Beatriz Oyanedel and Zara Stanhope.

For more information on Space to Dream: Recent Art from South America, visit the Auckland Art Gallery website





Fiona Pardington

The Contemporary Benefactors enjoyed an afternoon with Fiona Pardington and Auckland Art Gallery Senior Curator New Zealand and Pacific Art, Ron Brownson.

Fiona Pardington with Ron Brownson, 5 April 2016
Fiona Pardington discusses her photograph We Dream of Gentle Morpheus (2011)

During the exclusive interview we were lucky to get an insight into Fiona’s work and the in-depth research and preparation that goes into each photograph. Fiona kept us entertained with her wit, intelligence and passion. We heard about her voracious appetite for reading and how trips to the museum with her beloved Grandmother Dorothy, had stirred her interest in Museums and objects. Fiona walked us through the exhibition Fiona Pardington: A Beautiful Hesitation, which is currently showing at the Auckland Art Gallery. Behind each photo there is a story from the Kea found on the side of the road (David Kea Wings (2015), the luck in finding old, crushed silk flowers at the Porte de Clingancourt flea market in Paris which she steamed back into life, (Stuart Cameron’s Rose 2011) to the peculiar and macabre objects found at various Museums in Paris, which feature in We Dream of Gentle Morpheus (2011).

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Davis Kea Wings (above) 2015 


Screen Shot 2016-04-22 at 1.59.05 pm
Stuart Cameron’s Rose 2011

Ron Brownson asked Fiona about the title “A Beautiful Hesitation”. Fiona answered, “I pick up titles like things off the side of the road. I will look at groups of words in a quote and take them out of context and find meaning in them”. She described photography’s power to pause time and transcend the conditions of the material world. Her practice breathes life into the objects she encounters. As Brownson says “you have breathed oxygen into those casts” as she has done for all her photographs.

Screen Shot 2016-04-22 at 1.59.45 pm
We Dream of Gentle Morpheus 2011

There are more than 100 photographs on display in the Fiona Pardington: A Beautiful Hesitation at Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki. A Beautiful Hesitation is a comprehensive presentation of 30 years of Fiona Pardington’s practice. Revealing the key elements that have helped to shape her work, the exhibition celebrates one of New Zealand’s most notable photographers.

An extract from the beautiful new book Published by Victoria University Press in association with Baker+Douglas and in conjunction with City Gallery Wellington and Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, Fiona Pardington: A Beautiful Hesitation


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Published by Victoria University in association with Baker & Douglas, 2016
Taking a photograph is like tilting at windmills. It’s taking on the universe.  Fiona Pardington

Fiona Pardington considers each of her photographs to be ‘a sovereign world’, offering an uneasy, dream-like experience akin to being placed under hypnotic suggestion. She uses the phrase ‘a beautiful hesitation’ to describe photography’s power to arrest time and to alter our relationship with what it both places under our gaze and keeps from it. A Beautiful Hesitation is the most comprehensive survey of Pardington’s work to date spanning thirty years of her practice. It delves deeply into the photographer’s archive presenting many of her early images for the first time. These photographs bring forth challenging, disarming and affecting views of Aotearoa New Zealand.

From an analogue process of exquisitely realised black and white images to digital photographs that are rich with colour, Pardington’s oeuvre traverses themes from the spirituality that underpins Māori customs and the metaphysical world to sexual and cultural politics. Her cornerstones are the abject, the discarded, the precious and the wounded, and the deep ties she maintains with her Kāi Tahu heritage.

The book Fiona Pardington: A Beautiful Hesitation is available at the gallery shop or through the Baker Douglas website . Alongside the images are newly commissioned essays by: Aaron Lister, Hana O’Regan, Susan Best, Kriselle Baker, Zara Stanhope, Ron Brownson and Peter Shand.  Also included are a substantial interview by Andrew Paul Wood and an archive section of significant earlier texts.

If members would like Fiona to sign a copy of the book, we are happy to arrange it. Please email


About Fiona Pardington
Fiona Pardington (b.1961) is of Scottish (Clan Cameron of Erracht) and Māori (Kāi Tahu, Kāti Māmoe, or Ngāti kahungunu) descent. Her work is held in major public collections in Aotearoa New Zealand and abroad, including Musée du Quai Branly, Paris and the National Gallery Canada, Ottawa. Pardington has exhibited widely throughout Australasia and beyond, including the 17th Biennale of Sydney (2010) and the Ukraine Biennale (2012). She has completed the requirements for a Doctor of Fine Arts from the University of Auckland and has received many fellowships and residences, including Moët & Chandon Fellowship (France) in 1991-1992, the Frances Hodgkins Fellowship at the University of Otago in 1996 and 1997,the Kāi Tahu Residency at Otago Polytecnic in 2006. In 2001, Pardington became an Art Foundation Laureate. She is represented by Starkwhite, Auckland.

For More Information:
Anthony Bryt wrote an article in Metro 1 March 2016 about Fiona and the exhibition.







Special Preview for Contemporary Benefactors- Necessary Distraction: A Painting Show

Rhana Devenport, Director of the Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki warmly invites Contemporary Benefactors to a special preview of Necessary Distraction: A painting Show.

Friday 27 November 2015


Members Lounge, Level 2

Please also join us for the official opening at 6-8pm in the North Atrium

RSVP essential by Friday 20 November


Phone +64 9 890 2281

Image credit: Kirstin Carlin, Pleasure Garden (seven), 2015, oil on board, courtesy of the artist and Melanie Roger Gallery.
Image credit: Kirstin Carlin, Pleasure Garden (seven), 2015, oil on board, courtesy of the artist and Melanie Roger Gallery.

Discover a new vigour in recent New Zealand painting in this ambitious multi-artist exhibition. Responding to the question ‘What can painting offer that other art forms cannot?’, the artworks selected and commissioned for this survey share a focus on material and form, and are deliberately open ended.

Through suggestion and proposition, the artists invite us into conversations that, rather than being constrained by the ties of narrative painting, are speculative and forward-looking. Experience diverse work by 20 established and emerging painters and witness a future for painting that’s still in the making.

 The exhibition runs from Saturday 28 November 2015 – Monday 4 April 2016

Text provided by Auckland Art Gallery


Jonathan Ward Knox, Hardly Held Lightly

The Contemporary Benefactors and members of the Chartwell Trust, enjoyed a sunny evening on the sculpture terrace surrounded by Jonathan Ward Knox’s new work, Hardly Held Lightly, a trio of super-sized sculptures, spun in the shape of giant spider webs.

Jonathan Ward Knox with one of the sculptures from his work Hardly Held Light
Jonathan Ward Knox with one of the sculptures from his work Hardly Held Light.
Shana Devenport with Jonathan Ward Knox work from the Hardly Held Lightly series, at Auckland Art Gallery
Rhana Devenport with Jonathan Ward Knox work from the Hardly Held Lightly series, at Auckland Art Gallery

The sculpture terrace at the Auckland Art gallery comes alive with John Ward Knox’s new site-responsive work, Hardly Held Lightly. Ward Knox transformed more than a kilometre of industrial chain into three vast weavings, imitating the webs of a giant spider. Joining the tree-tops of Albert Park to the building’s eaves, Ward Knox plays with a key aspect of our 2011 redevelopment – linking our Gallery building to the park.

Charlotte Swasbrook with Jonathan Ward Knox
Charlotte Swasbrook with Jonathan Ward Knox
The Contemporary Benefactor's Committee. Jane Browne, Nicky Pennington, Sue Waymouth, Kriselle Baker, Charlotte Swasbrook.
The Contemporary Benefactor’s Committee.
Jane Browne, Nicky Pennington, Sue Waymouth, Kriselle Baker, Charlotte Swasbrook.

The webs are not drawn from ancient cultural symbols of death or decay, or even Halloween. Instead, Ward Knox draws on an arachnid’s sensibility, by modelling the complex decisions about shape, link and length required to create a natural spider’s net. This intricate form of pattern-making which is rarely closely observed, hangs in tremendous weight and outsized scale and connects us to the natural beauty of the park.

Sue Gardiner from the Chartwell Trust
Sue Gardiner from the Chartwell Trust
Natasha Conland with Chris Swasbrook
Natasha Conland with Chris Swasbrook

This exciting installation is the latest in a series of commissions by emerging New Zealand artists for the level 2 space, thanks to Chartwell Trust and the Contemporary Benefactors.


Zara Stanhope, Principal Curator at Auckland Art Gallery
Zara Stanhope, Principal Curator at Auckland Art Gallery

24 October 2015 –  5 June 2016
Edmiston North Sculpture Terrace, level 2, amphitheatre and Albert Park

Image credit: John Ward Knox, Hardly Held Lightly, 2015, steel chain. Commissioned by Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, 2015. Supported by the Chartwell Trust and the Contemporary Benefactors

Text credit; Auckland Art Gallery


Sydney Art Week – SPRING 1883

A citywide sweep of vibrant and diverse art events including art fairs, exhibitions, public programmes and performances, graced this year’s edition of Sydney Art Week. SPRING 1883, a satellite art fair that started as a rebellion to its more traditional counterpart, Sydney Contemporary, also comprised the abundant cultural calendar. A showcase for the latest visual art, current trends and emergent practices, SPRING 1883 was well worth the visit.


Following the success of the inaugural SPRING 1883 in 2014 at Melbourne’s Windsor Hotel, the fair expanded to Sydney’s Establishment Hotel this year, inviting twenty-five galleries to participate, with each one occupying a different room across four floors.

The three gallerists behind SPRING—Vasili Kaliman of Station, Geoff Newton of Neon Parc, and Vikki McInnes of Sarah Scout Presents—disregarded the familiar white booth in favour of small boutique hotel rooms. Drawing on the traditions of the Gramercy Park Fair in New York, this style of presentation prompted participating galleries to conceive innovative ways to showcase their art and address their curatorial and spatial concerns.

Michael Lett joined forces with long time friend and gallerist, Phillida Reid, of Southard Reid in London, to present works by Hany Armanious and Edward Thomasson, among others. Spread out over two floors in a naturally lit corner room, the highlight was two video works by Edward Thomasson, an emerging video artist who has quickly established himself as “future great” of the increasingly popular medium. Thomasson’s meticulously constructed videos, typically set in institutional environments, oscillate between a small selection of characters, scenes and storylines, before culminating in a deeper meaning at the conclusion of each video. The artist employs amateur and professional actors to address the unspoken rules of social interaction, whilst also getting inside the characters’ heads through the projection of internal monologue.

 Edward Thomasson, Still from Find a Problem to Solve (2008)
Edward Thomasson, Still from Find a Problem to Solve (2008)

Several galleries resourcefully incorporated the bed into their presentation. Robert Heald Gallery presented a solo exhibition of large yet intimate works by Jae Hoon Lee. Lee’s lightjet print on metallic paper work, Cloud 4, took on the form of an intricate headboard. A selection of Paul Yore’s colourful needlepoint works were sprawled on the bed of Neon Parc’s room, while works by Trevelyan Clay, Dale Frank, Elizabeth Newman and others occupied the remaining furnishings, including the television stand, which had been tipped on its side. Over the corridor at Hamish McKay Gallery, watercolour works by Rohan Whealleans were neatly draped across the bed.

Jae Hoon Lee, Cloud 4, 2015, Lightjet print on metallic paper (edition of 5), 90 x 166cm
Jae Hoon Lee, Cloud 4, 2015, Lightjet print on metallic paper (edition of 5), 90 x 166cm

Sarah Cottier Gallery’s room was big on colour; the shower was illuminated with Brendan van Hek’s Arrangement #1, a repurposed neon light on a found lamp stand, while the walls were lined with Esther Stewart’s exquisite abstract boards. Works by Julie Fragar, Huseyin Sami, Jonathan Zawada, Matthys Gerber, Nicola Smith, Elizabeth Pulie, Koji Ryui and others were a visual feast for the eyes on every other surface of the room.


Hopkinson Mossman presented an exhibition of solo works by Fiona Connor, namely her recent Community Notice Board works, which provide a social commentary on a certain place and time—whether this be a church, a park, or a community centre—by replicating exact information from existing notice boards. The subtle presentation proved rewarding for those who took time to read the small text.

 Fiona Connor, Community Notice Board (Kaiseraugst), 2015, custom oak pin board, paint, silkscreen and UV print on aluminium plates, vinyl, pins, staples, tape, 740 x 420 x 40mm
Fiona Connor, Community Notice Board (Kaiseraugst), 2015, custom oak pin board, paint, silkscreen and UV print on aluminium plates, vinyl, pins, staples, tape, 740 x 420 x 40mm

In contrast, Darren Knight Gallery brought a full roster of artists, including Chris Bond’s Vogue Hommes oil on linen works, Jon Campbell’s enamel paint and cotton duck works (bearing irreverent phrases), Matlok Griffith’s colourful oil on cotton works, Rob McHaffie’s surrealist oil on linen portraits and James Morrison’s five panel Limmen Bright work. Upon closer inspection, Michelle Nikou’s intricate gold sculptures, Kenzee Patterson’s found objects (such as a stainless steel ruler) and Ricky Swallow’s magnifying glass with rope could be found.


With its quiet and serene hotel rooms, SPRING 1883 provided a welcoming contrast to the inherent spectacle of art fairs. Presenting art in hotel rooms, which is more akin to a domestic setting than the traditional white booth, activated the works in a different way. The private confines of the rooms also removed the friction often observed at art fairs when works of high value are placed beside those of lesser value, leaving visitors to make sense of it all themselves.

SPRING 1883 managed the unlikely task of presenting refreshingly emergent art that was both experimental and challenging without comprising on substance or standing. Here you could enjoy art and feel free from the pressures and tensions of larger, established art fairs.


Sophie Wallace

Gordon Walters

Gouaches and a Painting from the 1950s

On the evening of Friday the 23rd of September, the Contemporary Benefactors were treated to a private viewing of the exhibition and introductory talk by John McCormack. The show’s curator Laurence Simmons explains.

There are three important sources that inform Walters’ gouache works, which were mostly painted over a decade at night while he worked for the Government Printing Office during the day. First of all, Walters had worked his way aboard ship to London in 1950. In 1951 on a continental excursion, he was exposed first-hand to the geometrical abstractions of Auguste Herbin, Alberto Magnelli and Victor Vasarely at the Denise René Gallery in Paris; and then the works of Piet Mondrian and Theo van Doesburg in The Hague, Rotterdam and Amsterdam. Secondly, into this heady engagement with European modernity upon his return to New Zealand Walters was to inject his prior interest in the field of Maori rock art. During the summer of 1946-47 he had worked closely alongside Indonesian expatriate Theo Schoon recording Maori rock drawings in the limestone bluffs and shelters of South Canterbury, places which Schoon majestically described as ‘New Zealand’s oldest art galleries’. The rock-art depiction of human and animal figures with blank centres inspired the geometry and interlocking structures of stylized anthropomorphic figures that were to appear later in many of Walters’ gouaches. Thirdly, in 1953 Schoon had also introduced Walters to the work of Rolfe Hattaway, a permanently hospitalised psychiatric patient whose drawings made with a lump of clay on the asphalt of an exercise yard had captivated Schoon when employed as an orderly at the Avondale psychiatric hospital. Schoon provided Hattaway with art materials and later he and Walters copied Hattaway’s loopy tumults of line, in particular the repeated motif of a long open rectangle penetrated by a curving snake-like form. The importance for Walters of this positive form penetrated by a negative emptiness was now confirmed for him from an arresting double source: rock art and outsider art. These two tours de force dramatise the radical aesthetics of Walters’ fifties gouaches that willfully blur the differences between abstraction and nature.


Walters’ rapid study gouaches of the 1950s called for a certain tenacity of purpose, sustained analysis and prolonged concentration. They yielded a surprising narrative of astonishing range, providing images and compositions that would carry Walters through the decades to follow. Years later he was still using motifs he had stored in his visual memory from the fifties. For the paradox remains that in such an elaborated intellectual practice of painting as Walters’ so many of the key effects and decisions are derived from moments of pure coincidence and inspiration. Walters’ best works of this period are permanently embroiled in the present tense of their making; they would be just as fresh as if created today or tomorrow.


Laurence Simmons, September 2015

Gordon Walters is best known for his paintings employing the koru, the curving bulb form from Maori moko and kowhaiwhai rafter patterns. He is a revered figure in New Zealand, recognised for a long and productive career spanning four decades. The Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki presented a retrospective exhibition his work in 1983 and a survey exhibition Parallel Lines in 1994, and he has been included in many survey shows, including A Very Peculiar Practice: Aspects of Recent New Zealand Art at the City Gallery, Wellington. In 2014 Starkwhite and the Walters Estate presenteda small survey show of his koru paintings at Art Basel Hong Kong. Walters is represented in the country’s major public collections and his place in our art history is memorialised in the bi-annual Walters Prize exhibition and award at the Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki.

Laurence Simmons is Associate Dean (Postgraduate) and Professor of Film Studies in the School of Social Sciences at The University of Auckland. He has written extensively on contemporary New Zealand art and photography and his latest two books areTuhituhi (2011), on the painter William Hodges who journeyed with Captain James Cook on his second voyage to the South Pacific, andBlutopia (2014), on the artist John Reynolds.

Located in New Zealand on Auckland’s Karangahape Road, Starkwhite presents a programme of artists’ projects, solo shows by represented and invited artists, and independently curated exhibitions.

Laurence Simmons

Please contact the gallery for further information and images.

Collecting Art Talk with Natasha Conland

The Auckland Art Gallery invites Contemporary Benefactors to a talk on, ‘an introduction to collecting art’ by Curator Contemporary Art, Natasha Conland.


Thursday 11 June, 6–8pm
Members lounge, Level 2

‘Let’s talk about collecting’. So, you’re thinking about developing your art collection or going in a new direction? Are there questions you’ve always wanted to put to a professional, but were too afraid to ask? Are there grey areas of the art world you want to clarify? Come along to a light-hearted talk by Curator Contemporary Art, Natasha Conland on collecting contemporary art. Not just for the brave or obsessed, but also for the curious. Have a glass of wine and some nibbles. Enjoy hearing about buying art – insights and accidents!

Natasha has led the development of contemporary art in New Zealand’s two major public art collections for 14 years. She has also visited major museums of contemporary art internationally to meet with colleagues about collecting from TATE to the New Museum, through Asia and the Middle East, and has
visited many private collections during her professional life.


RSVP for numbers to 0273160332

Richard Serra

Feature Artist: Richard Serra

By Sophie Wallace 

“What interests me is the opportunity for all of us to become something different from what we are, by constructing spaces that contribute something to the experience of who we are.” –Richard Serra

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Richard Serra, Torqued Ellipses, Dia:Beacon. Photo by Sophie Wallace.

David Zwirner New York is currently exhibiting a new major installation in forged weatherproof steel by Richard Serra. Entitled Equal, the installation comprises a series of paired stacked cubes. Weighing at forty-tonnes each, the gallery was required to engage hydraulic gantries, bridge rollers and cranes to install them. David Zwirner, who was concerned about the weight of the steel cracking the gallery’s cement floor, had a sculptural on-ramp installed for the duration of the show, which acts as a bridge to lift the weight of the sculptures from the foundations.

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Courtesy of David Zwirner, New York/London. Photo by Grady O’Connor.

Serra, who has been working with sculpture for more than thirty years, was prompted to consider “ways of relating movement to material and space” after watching contemporary dancers as a young artist in New York in the late 1960s. His series, Torqued Ellipses, on long-term view at Dia:Beacon, continues the artist’s exploration of movement and space through sculpture. Weighing at over twenty-tonnes each, the two-inch thick rolled steel plates spiral inwards, so that the viewer is taken on a journey towards the centre of each piece, confronted with a dramatic tension between one’s bodily awareness and one’s vision. Comprised of sixteen-foot sheets of steel—the maximum size available—there were only two rollers in existence that could execute the task of producing the sculptures.

Richard Serra
Installation view, Richard Serra: Equal, David Zwirner, New York, 2015. Photo by Tim Nighswander/IMAGING4ART. Artwork © 2015 Richard Serra/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

New Zealand is fortunate to have been graced with Richard Serra’s presence by virtue of his Te Tuhirangi Contour installation at Gibbs Farm. The large-scale site-specific sculpture contains 56 Corten steel plates that follow a single contour line across the landscape.

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Richard Serra, Te Tuhirangi Contour, courtesy of Gibbs Farm, New Zealand.

Richard Serra was born in San Francisco in 1938. Serra’s first solo exhibition was held at the Galleria La Salita, Rome in 1966. His first solo museum exhibition was held at the Pasadena Art Museum in 1970. Since then, Serra’s work has been the subject of multiple solo exhibitions across the world. In 2005, the Guggenheim Museum Bibao permanently installed eight large-scale works by Serra and in 2007, the Museum of Modern Art, New York presented a major retrospective of his work.

Richard Serra: Equal is on view at 537 West 20th Street, New York through the 24th of July.

Thank you to Sophie Wallace, who is based in New York, for providing this article for the Contemporary Benefactors.


Mark Adams

Mark Adams

The Contemporary Benefactors shared an evening with New Zealand photographer Mark Adams at Two Rooms Gallery in Auckland. Gallery Director Jenny Todd provides an insight into Adam’s work and his exhibition “Nine Fathoms Passage”.

Nine Fathoms Passage

24 April – 23 May 2015

Mark Adams is one of New Zealand’s foremost documentary photographers, with over thirty years engagement in our colonial and pre-colonial histories. His first journey to Dusky Bay in 1995 launched his exploration of James Cook’s landing sites. His portrayal of these locations responds to the vision of painter William Hodges who was present on the second of Cook’s voyages. Adams made further expeditions to Dusky Sound in 1997 and 1998, more recently returning in May 2014.

Nine Fathoms Passage, 27. 6. 2014 – 1. 7. 2014. After William Hodges ‘Waterfall in Dusky Bay with a Maori Canoe, 1775-7 11 panels , 11 metres long (Detail)

The inlet was first sighted and named by Cook during his first voyage to New Zealand on the Endeavour in 1770. On the second voyage in 1773 the Resolution arrived in Dusky Sound after three months skirting the edge of the Antarctic ice fields. Cook and his crew then spent two months exploring the Sound. Appointed by the Admiralty to record these discoveries was English painter, William Hodges. He produced many drawings on board and on his return created four paintings depicting Dusky Sound, with portraits of the local peoples, thought to be Kati Mamoe.

A soft golden hue imbues these paintings with the romanticism of a majestic and beautiful landscape. Idealised and sublime, these were the beginning of a European vision of New Zealand, in particular the South Island. For Mark Adams these paintings denote the start of our settler origins and our cross-cultural history with its attendant turmoil.

2014. Seaforth River, Supper Cover, Dusky Sound.

This exhibition is an extension of the work Adams began in 1995. It is the last of four works responding to Hodges’ four paintings made following the time he spent in this remote part of the world. Seen as a means to document our history rather than simply depicting the landscape, Adams places himself inside Hodges’ paintings and looks out from these sites to reassess the history of this singular landscape. He slowly reveals the character of the place, only discovered through sustained attention and many hours spent camping in these locations, often in extreme conditions.

2014. Broughton Arm, Breaksea, Dusky Sound.

The centerpiece of the exhibition is called, Nine Fathoms Passage, 27. 6. 2014 – 1. 7. 2014. After William Hodges ‘Waterfall in Dusky Bay with a Maori Canoe, 1775-7. Placing his camera at the point where Hodges painted the Maori canoe, Adams’ has taken in a 360 degree panorama, producing his largest work to date. Occupying an entire wall of the gallery, the eleven panel, eleven metre long panorama, is photographed in colour. Looking in all directions from a singular point, recorded over a period of time, this monumental artwork captures the eerie stillness of this historically significant New Zealand place.

Mark Adams
Nine Fathoms Passage, 27. 6. 2014 – 1. 7. 2014

The three earlier works from the Dusky Bay series: View in Pickersgill Harbour after William Hodges, 17 May 1995 (3 panels), Indian Island, 360° panorama after William Hodges’ ‘View in Dusky Bay’, 2 – 10 August, 1998 (8 panels), and After William Hodges’ ‘Cascade Cove’, 21 May 1995 (4 panels), are hand printed, gold toned silver bromide black and white prints and an edition of each is in the collection of Auckland Art Gallery.

Adams’ works have been exhibited and collected by Auckland Art Gallery; Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa; Christchurch Art Gallery; Govett Brewster Art Gallery; and Queensland Art Gallery. Significant exhibitions of Adams’ work have been staged at the Adam Art Gallery, Victoria University of Wellington; Sydney Museum; Zelda Cheatle Gallery, London; The National Library, Canberra; Sao Paolo Biennale 1997, among other major museums.

Mark Adams acknowledges Creative New Zealand, who generously supported this expedition.

Written by Jenny Todd, Two Rooms Gallery, Auckland

Thank you to Two Rooms Gallery for hosting the evening.

More information on Mark Adams can be found on the Two Rooms website:

of the Auckland Art Gallery