Callers 'touch base' after Hotere's death

GWYNETH HYNDMAN
Last updated 05:00 26/02/2013

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Not one of the 60 pieces in the permanent Ralph Hotere collection at the Eastern Southland Gallery in Gore will be sold, curator Jim Geddes said yesterday.

Hotere, who died on Sunday in Dunedin aged 81, was one of New Zealand's most important contemporary artists. He was a painter, sculptor, and collaborative artist who commented frequently on political events and had gifted 30 pieces of his work to the Gore gallery.

Hotere was made a member of the Order of New Zealand last February. In November, his painting Vive Aramoana - about the fight to stop an aluminium smelter being built in Aramoana 30 years ago - sold for $183,000

Mr Geddes said the phone had been "red hot" all day yesterday as news of Hotere's death travelled around the world, with calls coming in from as far as California.

People had been contacting the gallery to "touch base" and to express condolences, he said. They had not called in regards to buying Hotere's artwork.

He had no idea of the monetary value of Hotere's work in the wake of his death - all of his work was "priceless" and would not leave the Gore collection, he said.

After Hotere gifted some of his work in the 80s to the gallery - making up about half the collection in the gallery, other people in the community had also gifted Hotere pieces.

Much of this had to do with Hotere's wife, Mary McFarlane, who worked at the gallery in its early years, Mr Geddes said.

"I think people want to make contact with the collection in some way.

"It's quite a sad time for a lot of people around the world who knew him and they just want to touch base with a place that has his work."

People had also been coming into the gallery to see the collection, he said. Mr Geddes expected it to get busier this week as it was the only permanent collection of Hotere's work.

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- The Southland Times

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