New Zealand

Wellington Art Guide

Wellington, as the capital of New Zealand, is not only the host city for the country's parliament and various civil service organisations, but also the Museum of New Zealand, Te Papa Tongarewa. The institution on the waterfront houses national collections presenting Science, Art, and Social History. In March 2018, the new national art gallery Toi Art opened on the fourth and fifth floors of Te Papa, which has since exhibited the works of established New Zealand artists such as Tiffany Singh, Jeena Shin, and Kerry Ann Lee.

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City Gallery Te Whare Toi in Te Ngākau Civic Square is administered by the city of Wellington, much smaller than Te Papa, and without a collection. Veteran curator Robert Leonard leads its team of curators to present an exhibition programme known for its dynamism and social currency.

A significant public institution funded by the Hutt City Council is The Dowse Art Museum, which is home to over 2,000 artworks. In keeping with its inaugural exhibition that focused on a survey of New Zealand art (Artists of the Wellington Province 1939–1971 [1971]), the Museum has displayed the works of both accomplished and emerging New Zealand artists, notably Fiona Clark, Shannon Te Ao, Ella Sutherland, and Imogen Taylor. Its extensive public programmes also include interactive and educational workshops that aim to bring the community together.

The most important venue in Wellington, in terms of scholarly research and debate about contemporary art, is the Adam Art Gallery Te Pātaka Toi. Part of the Victoria University of Wellington in Kelburn, the gallery is housed in a building designed by architect Ian Athfield. Under the directorship of contemporary art historian Christina Barton, it is a venue more rarefied in its interests than City Gallery. Another notable university gallery, The Engine Room, is at Massey University. Run by Litmus (a 'cutting edge' research hub), the smaller and less conspicuous gallery is aligned with artists' projects and a residency for international visitors.

Enjoy Public Art Gallery is a successful artist-run space (operative since 2000) that is not a 'public' gallery in the sense of a conventional, municipally administered institution, but much more pitched to the interests of recent graduates. Social and community oriented, it has a profile so slick that it appears corporatised, especially as it now has a brand new and much larger space in Cuba St. Its workshops places a big emphasis on creative writing and mentoring as an aid for developing critical art practices.

Nga Tāonga Sound & Vision (The New Zealand Archive of Film) is an organisation devoted to the national promotion of moving image and aural culture. Its collection encompasses popular mass media such as film, radio, and television, and the histories of the different communities that live here. Although it presents a lot of material online, it has curated exhibitions—to be seen, for example, in its Wellington branch in Taranaki St—that include videos, printed matter, and artefacts connected to the production of stories disseminated through Aotearoa's mass media.

There are about a dozen dealer galleries in Wellington. The pioneering Peter McLeavey Gallery launched the careers of historic icons Colin McCahon and Toss Woollaston in the mid-sixties. Page Blackie Gallery, in Victoria St., has a wide range of styles within the mediums of painting and sculpture, extending from senior figures like Max Gimblett, Dick Frizzell, and Andrew Drummond to younger postcolonial artists like Jasmine Togo-Brisby and Reuben Paterson who reflect Pasifika and Māori sensibilities.


Current Exhibitions In Wellington

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Contemporary art exhibition, Karl Maughan, Karl Maughan at Page Galleries, Wellington
25 June–18 July 2020 Karl Maughan Page GalleriesWellington
Contemporary art exhibition, Helen Calder, Space Line Colour at Bartley + Company Art, Wellington
24 June–18 July 2020 Helen Calder Space Line Colour Bartley + Company ArtWellington
Contemporary art exhibition, William Bennett, Polyester Soldiers, Stitch Witches at Jhana Millers, Wellington
16 July–8 August 2020 William Bennett Polyester Soldiers, Stitch Witches Jhana MillersWellington
Contemporary art exhibition, Harry Culy, Mirror City at Jhana Millers, Wellington
13 August–5 September 2020 Harry Culy Mirror City Jhana MillersWellington

Ocula Member Galleries In Wellington

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Hamish McKay contemporary art gallery in Wellington, New Zealand Hamish McKay Wellington
Jhana Millers contemporary art gallery in Wellington, New Zealand Jhana Millers Wellington
Page Galleries contemporary art gallery in Wellington, New Zealand Page Galleries Wellington

Contemporary Institutions In Wellington

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Wellington In Ocula Magazine

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Colin McCahon: A Way Through Ocula Insight
In collaboration with Adam Art Gallery Te Pātaka Toi, Wellington
Colin McCahon: A Way Through By Christina Barton, Sophie Thorn and Nina Dyer, Wellington

Colin McCahon's Gate III (1970) has graced the walls of Victoria University of Wellington since 1972. Thousands of students and staff have walked past it over these years, and many remember their first encounter with the towering words 'I AM' that dominate its composition. Gate III was commissioned for the exhibition Ten Big Paintings at...

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Seung Yul Oh Ocula Conversation Seung Yul Oh By Laura Thomson, Auckland

Born in Korea in 1981, Seung Yul Oh moved to New Zealand in 1997 and graduated from Elam School of Fine Arts at the University of Auckland in 2005. He has exhibited widely in New Zealand and Korea. In 2013 he was recipient of the SEMA Nanji Residency in Seoul and in 2011 was recipient of the Harriet Friedlander New York Residency, supported by...

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