New Zealand

Christchurch Art Guide

Resting upon the Avon River between the ocean and the Southern Alps, Christchurch is a relatively large city (the largest in New Zealand's South Island) with a small but diverse contemporary art scene that adapts and evolves, much like the city itself. Characterised by pockets of open green space amidst a mixture of modern and French neo-Gothic buildings, the city holds a distinct character.

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Since the Canterbury College School of Art's establishment in 1882, the Garden City has historically been one of the country's main centres of art. Home to the loose but influential long-running art association known as The Group, some of New Zealand's best-known avantgarde artists over the last century studied amidst the city's unique urban landscape.

Behind its imposing curved glass façade, Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū boasts a diverse collection of prominent historical and contemporary New Zealand artworks. Canterbury Society of Arts, established in 1880, continues to propel the city and region's artistic development, showcasing the latest talent at the Centre of Contemporary Art (CoCA). Smaller influential galleries such as the Jonathan Smart Gallery, The Physics Room, City Art Depot, and PG gallery192 strengthen the diversity of the city's art scene by providing a platform for many established and up-and-coming Canterbury artists.

Despite the disruption to this artistic legacy and Christchurch society at large caused by the 2011 earthquake, the art scene has continued to thrive. New life has been breathed into the city in the years following the natural disaster by a bustling array of street art; murals, sculpture, installations, and pop-up art spaces fill the gaps left by ruins and redevelopment. Drawn in by the abundance of blank spaces to work with, New Zealand and international artists have flocked to the city, turning it into a street art capital. The Christchurch Art Gallery (which served as an Emergency Operations Centre and Civil Defence headquarters) and CoCA both reopened five years after the earthquake. Most of the city's smaller galleries also reopened. Alongside the reopening of the City's established institutions a series of new spaces such as Art Box Gallery were established.

Exhibition view: Judy Darragh, Snow in Hawaii, Jonathan Smart Gallery, New Zealand (8 September–3 October 2020). Courtesy Jonathan Smart Gallery.

Current Exhibitions In Christchurch

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Contemporary art exhibition, Judy Darragh, Snow in Hawaii at Jonathan Smart Gallery, Christchurch
8 September–3 October 2020 Judy Darragh Snow in Hawaii Jonathan Smart Gallery, ChristchurchChristchurch
Contemporary art exhibition, Richard Reddaway, Book Launch - it does no harm to wonder / the body of the work at Jonathan Smart Gallery, Christchurch
7 August–5 September 2020 Richard Reddaway Book Launch - it does no harm to wonder / the body of the work Jonathan Smart Gallery, ChristchurchChristchurch
Contemporary art exhibition, Miranda Parkes, relationship status at Jonathan Smart Gallery, Christchurch
2 July–1 August 2020 Miranda Parkes relationship status Jonathan Smart Gallery, ChristchurchChristchurch

Ocula Member Galleries In Christchurch

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Jonathan Smart Gallery contemporary art gallery in Christchurch, New Zealand Jonathan Smart Gallery Christchurch

Contemporary Institutions In Christchurch

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The Physics Room contemporary art institution in Christchurch, New Zealand The Physics Room Christchurch

Christchurch In Ocula Magazine

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Boyd Webb Ocula Conversation Boyd Webb By Laura Thomson, Auckland

Boyd Webb was born in Christchurch, New Zealand in 1947 and attended the University of Canterbury School of Fine Arts (Ilam). He won a scholarship to study sculpture at the Royal College of Art, London in 1972 and continues to live and work in Brighton, England. Initially he worked as a sculptor, making life casts of people in fibreglass...

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Natasha Conland Ocula Conversation Natasha Conland By Laura Thomson, Auckland

Natasha Conland is Curator, Contemporary Art at the Auckland Art Gallery, Auckland, New Zealand. She has curated numerous exhibitions including A Puppet A Pauper A Pirate A Poet A Pawn & A King: From the Naomi Milgrom Art Collection (2013); Made Active: The Chartwell Show (2012); the 4th Auckland Triennial,  Last Ride in a Hot Air...

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Vincent Ward Ocula Conversation Vincent Ward By Anna Dickie

Vincent Ward is best known as an internationally acclaimed film director and screenwriter, earning both critical acclaim and festival attention for his often dark, but memorable films. Vigil,  The Navigator: A Medieval Odyssey and Map of the Human Heart were officially selected for the Cannes Film Festival; and What Dreams May Come...

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