You can barely walk a few paces in Wellington without stumbling across an art gallery. As the city puts on its winter coat, here’s your guide to some of the best places to check out national and international art — as well as stay warm and dry.
The crown in the city’s arts scene, City Gallery was established in 1980 as the first significant non-collecting and exhibition-based public gallery in New Zealand. It moved to its current Civic Square location in 1993, and since then has established an international reputation as a space for contemporary visual arts, architecture and design. If you’re in town, don’t miss “The Hanging Sky” exhibition, which opens on June 15 and provides a visual journey through provocative New Zealand artist Shane Cotton’s airborne world.
Wander down Victoria Street and you’ll come across the visual symphony that is this colorful art space. It’s had several moves since its birth in 1987, and owners Marcia Page and James Blackie have long dominated the New Zealand art scene. In this latest space, the pair represents around 17 of the country’s best-known contemporary artists, such as Dick Frizzell, Max Gimblett and Karl Maughan.
Selling contemporary applied art and handmade jewelery, this stylish dealer gallery represents New Zealand’s foremost artists in glass, ceramics, bronze, stone, mixed media and more. When it comes to jewelry, expect work in gold, silver, jade, stone and modern materials by some of New Zealand’s most highly skilled and original makers. It’s an art mecca for tourists and locals alike, and anyone who visits will likely walk out with a lighter wallet. Conveniently, AVID also packs and ships overseas.
Beg, borrow or steal a ride out to Lower Hutt, where you’ll be rewarded for the effort at the Dowse Art Museum. Opened in 1971, this contemporary art space is a 15-minute drive from Wellington’s central business district and has a special focus on craft and design. My most recent visit was to see the exhibit “His Own Steam,” a tribute to one of New Zealand’s most significant potters, Barry Brickell. This first significant exhibition of Brickell’s work features more than 100 of his clay pieces and will wrap up at the museum in August.
Drive the other way and you’ll come across Pataka, which offers one of New Zealand’s best collections of Maori, Pacific and New Zealand art. Featuring five galleries and more than 14 local and international exhibitions a year, this dedicated space is currently spotlighting basket making throughout the Melanesian Islands and examines the various materials, the different types of baskets and how they were used. If you want to check it out, though, you’ll have to hurry, as the exhibit closes on June 23.
Photos courtesy of Nicola Edmonds