'Disgusting' neglect at Anderson House of $4.2m art collection

The state of Anderson House has been slammed at Thursday's AGM of the Invercargill Public Art Inc.
ROBYN EDIE/FAIRFAX NZ

The state of Anderson House has been slammed at Thursday's AGM of the Invercargill Public Art Inc.

A cleaner of Anderson House has spoken out about the conditions the $4.2m Invercargill art collection is kept in, calling it 'disgusting'. 

Speaking at the Invercargill Public Art Gallery Inc annual meeting on Thursday, gallery cleaner Pete Crawford said the lack of Invercargill City Council funding had caused the collection to be closed to the public for two and a half years. 

"The place has not been looked after for several years. We've very disappointed about Anderson House. I am disgusted," he said.

"I am amazed that it is a heritage house and the things that have been done to that house without permission amazes me ... The likes that you wouldn't believe."

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The multi-million dollar art collection was at risk, Crawford said. 

"The artwork that I see that's potentially going to be damaged, and I am talking millions ... It's potentially getting damaged and it's disgusting.

"You need to look after the collection before you don't have one." 

Other members of the public also spoke about the disrepair of the building, some of which could be viewed from the outside of the house. 

Speaking after the meeting, Anderson Park Art Gallery curator Stephen Davies said gallery staff did a daily inspection of the artworks. 

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Last year a leak was discovered where one of the collections was held. 

Davies said he did not disagree with Crawford in terms of permitted changes to the house.

There was "potential that some things might have happened". 

"The conditions are not ideal for an art collection. We're in a building that's been a gallery for 65 years, and that collection has grown over time.

"We're trying to work with the city council so that we get a better solution for the gallery." 

In May, council approved only a percentage of the funding the gallery society applied for in the 2016-17 annual plan. The grant fell $85,000 short of the amount requested. 

Invercargill Mayor Tim Shadbolt said further funding could be granted in the next year's budgets. 

Shadbolt said speakers at the meeting brought the issues of the art collection storage to his attention.

Speakers said the 1000-piece collection had "no room" in the building, with some valuable art works stowed behind couches. 

Shadbolt believed it could be two or three years before the house was safe for the public again.

"It may prove to be impossible to open to the public." 

Council supported the collection moving to a permanent CBD location, but not a temporary one, Shadbolt said. 

At the meeting, a group to support the care of Anderson House was gathered by society vice president Mick Hesselin.

Gallery president David Kennedy said while there was a desire to relocate the art collection to the CBD, there should also be a group to advocate for Anderson House. 

 

 - Stuff

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