Revamp won't stop Suter exhibitions

Last updated 12:58 04/04/2014
Chris Bowater
SUTER UPGRADE: Most of the gallery will be demolished in a two-year redevelopment.

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The Suter Gallery has assured it will keep up its public presence during its redevelopment.

The Suter presented its intentions over the coming year to the Nelson City Council governance committee yesterday.

The gallery is due to be closed as it undergoes a two-year redevelopment, involving demolition of most of the gallery's complex.

The date of closure is not yet known, but staff were in the process of securing an inner city location to store the Suter's works, carry out its education programme, have small exhibitions, and a cafe.

Council committee members agreed it was important for the Suter Gallery to keep a public presence in the community during the building's redevelopment.

Bishop Suter Trust Board chairman Craig Potton said the gallery was looking for a temporary space where they could have smaller exhibitions, a cafe, and a space to store the works the gallery owns, but everything would be different and "scaled down" for the next two years and with this transition there came some uncertainty and vagueness.

People had been going down to the Suter for over 100 years and it was "it's a hard time for us not having that home any more", he told the committee. He said the two-year period would give them a chance to do work on their collection, prepare exhibitions for the reopening of the redeveloped Suter Gallery, find different ways to engage the public with art, build an online presence, refresh the Suter's branding, and research and protect the gallery's collection.

The gallery would also work on projects in partnership with Light Nelson, the Nelson Arts Festival, Waitangi Day 2015 and the centenary of World War I.

Councillor Eric Davy queried if the Suter could meet its intentions considering they would not be in their original home. "I hope we can, that's what we are aiming for," said Potton.

He said it would be difficult being moved from their premises and personally he struggled to understand how it could take two years to complete the building.

Mayor Rachel Reese said she understood and appreciated the gallery's position. "It's very difficult to close your home," she said.

Potton said the community had supported the Suter's fundraising efforts and he had got a sense that people wanted to give beyond the redevelopment to contribute to Nelson being a destination because of its arts reputation.

He said the gallery was continuing to fundraise as it always had as "that's what you do when you are in the arts", but it would be more difficult without a public building so they were focusing on the future promise of the redeveloped gallery.

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The redevelopment of the Suter Gallery had been budgeted at $12 million and it is expected to open in mid-2016 as a visual arts centre on its original Bridge St site.

- Nelson

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