Exhibition offers prime Kiwi art

Last updated 14:26 05/02/2013
Mark Stevenson
Scott Hammond

High Art: Blenheim art collector Mark Stevenson lent the Millennium Art Gallery some work from his private collection, including this painting, Unknown European Artist, by New Zealand artist Bill Hammond

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Marlborough art lovers are in for a treat with some big-name New Zealand artists on display at the Millennium Art Gallery in Blenheim.

Pieces by Colin McCahon, Bill Hammond, Billy Apple and Frances Hodgkins from the Stevenson Collection will be on show at the gallery until March 10.

Blenheim real estate agency owner Mark Stevenson said he has chosen some of his personal favourites for the exhibition, from an art collection he had acquired over 30 years.

He said the piece by Frances Hodgkins, who was a key figure in modernist movement in Britain, was an absolute favourite of his, and one the artist herself was very happy with.

A painting by Bill Hammond titled Unknown European Artist was a beautiful piece, but defied description.

"You just have to see it," he said.

"This is a museum-quality exhibition of the standard you would expect to see in a major city.

"I love the opportunity to have paintings like this up in a gallery like the Millennium."

He said while he had no artistic skills himself, he had become fascinated with art when he was the principal of St Joseph's School in Picton.

He would purchase art from New Zealand artists while holidaying around the country with his family, dragging his children into any art gallery and museum they came across.

"I have had no formal art eduction, I almost failed art at teachers college," he said.

He now has one of the largest collections in the South Island, he said.

"I buy the art for the art itself, it has intrinsic value."

Millennium Art Gallery director Cressida Bishop said it was a privilege to have work from some of the country's most prominent artists on display.

She said it was very generous of Mr Stevenson to lend them to the gallery.

The gallery, opposite Seymour Square, is open weekdays, 10.30am to 4.30pm and 1pm to 4pm on weekends.

The exhibition runs until March 10, with entry by donation and children free.

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- The Marlborough Express

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