Been to the Auckland Art Gallery lately? Catherine Healy met one of the people who works behind the scenes to make every exhibition a wonderful experience.
Have you ever noticed that the spaces inside the Auckland Art Gallery change from one exhibition to another? Internal walls appear and disappear as if by magic.
Sure, it's not the reason you go to the gallery, but did you ever consider that the way the show is laid out has as much impact on your experience as the art?
Scott Everson is an exhibition designer at the gallery. It's his job to interpret the curator's vision, work with the artists and come up with a solution that works for visitors.
It's as though the job was made for him. He's an AUT visual arts graduate who worked on his own art practice and ran a co-operative gallery space in Newmarket.
His father had a commercial painting business and Mr Everson funded his university studies by painting buildings.
As it turns out, all that time spent on building sites has come in very handy. His job involves project managing everything from the colours on the gallery walls to the lighting, construction of internal walls and coming up with discreet but sturdy supports for enormous pieces of art.
"I must have spent a year looking for an interesting arts related job. I was about to give up and bail for Melbourne when I saw a gallery technician job come up."
He spent five years doing the physical labour of handling and installing artworks before he got the chance to take up the designer's role.
"I was lucky to step in just as the gallery redevelopment was taking off. It was an incredible opportunity."
He's gratified by the international recognition the project has received. "Now I get regular phone calls asking how we did this or that, who we used and how it worked."
Every exhibition requires careful planning as there's just a three-week turnaround between them. As soon as the show comes down, Mr Everson and his team step in. Doorways must be taped up with plastic sheeting to stop dust damaging exhibits in the next room, then the destruction and construction of walls can begin.
Much of the gallery's collection is stored off-site, so the designers must make sure the artworks required are delivered on time. There are some late nights and the odd 1am finish but they're always ready for opening night.
He has a wealth of interesting work stories to tell: "I once spent half a day with a team of abseilers positioning a red canoe over a glass atrium."
He was also involved in installing the large flower chandelier by Korean artist Choi Jeong Hwa in the gallery's atrium.
"We did a lot of test work with 3D modelling and Photoshop. The hardest part was suspending it and making sure we met all the local regulations."
He's had to learn engineering skills too - everything from suspension points to floor load ratings. One of his recent projects was pouring a blue concrete ramp inside the gallery to fit an artist's brief.
It had to be solid enough to stand up to visitors walking over it yet able to be removed without damaging the building.
"That's what most people love about working here - it's always changing and it's always challenging."
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