Move the $4.2m Invercargill art collection to the CBD, survey of 60 finds

Invercargill Public Art Gallery president David Kennedy pictured on Don St, Invercargill.
ROBYN EDIE/FAIRFAX NZ

Invercargill Public Art Gallery president David Kennedy pictured on Don St, Invercargill.

A survey by the Invercargill Public Art Gallery has found most people want the 1000-piece art collection located in the central city. 

The survey of 60 paints a picture of public expectations of the gallery, from creativity to boosting tourism. 

Only 17 per cent knew the art's current location – under lock and key in Anderson House.

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Invercargill Public Art Gallery president David Kennedy said it was working on what kind of gallery it wanted to become.

"I would like us to be thought of for the things that we do, rather than the paintings that we own." 

The gallery wanted to broaden its appeal to more people in the community, he said. 

Survey findings say people aged 15 to 29 were a "huge potential" audience of a redeveloped Invercargill Public Art Gallery, if programming engaged them.

The gallery should not be an elitist space, Kennedy said. 

"It should welcome everyone."

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The gallery planned to exhibit temporarily in a pop-up exhibition on Don St, in the former State Insurance building. 

Ultimately, the gallery sought a permanent inner-city home. 

Kennedy said that, for quite some time, sports had absorbed the bulk of community funding.

"We see that it's time the city arts get a greater prominence in the centre [CBD]." 

Southland Regional Development Strategy chairman Tom Campbell said SoRDS backed moving the collection to the city centre.

The strategy wanted to develop a "golden square" between Tay, Kelvin, Dee and Don streets, which could include the public art collection, the museum and a new hotel, Campbell said.  

In the survey, 58 per cent said the collection should be in the Invercargill CBD.

Survey participants said a city public art gallery was important to encourage creativity and to uphold heritage and culture. 

Eastern Southland Gallery district curator Jim Geddes said the Gore-based gallery went through a major redevelopment in 2003. 

The redevelopment left the gallery "reinvented", Geddes said. Redevelopment had great results for visitor numbers, income and collection development. 

The future of the Invercargill Public Art Gallery collection would be informed by personal, political and economic dynamics, specific to its location, Geddes said. 

"Those are the dynamics that drive a successful project." 

The majority of participants, 55 per cent, thought the Southland Museum and Art Gallery was Invercargill's public art gallery. Seventeen per cent were certain it was Anderson Park Art Gallery, and no other organisation.

An analysis from the survey says participants were "understandably confused" because the gallery had been closed for over two years.

Victoria University of Wellington senior art history lecturer Roger Blackley said low awareness could be explained by the gallery being closed to the public for an extended time. 

"If it's been closed for two and a half years, and there's no advertisements or press, then people will forget that it exists at all."

Blackley said it would make sense for the gallery to be more central, especially as an accessible tourist attraction. 

Anderson House, a heritage home, was not designed as an art gallery and was restricting the gallery's ability to store and exhibit artworks. 

The collection, which is worth $4.2m, was closed from the public in 2014 after the house was labelled an earthquake risk.

Blackley said the gallery should not operate in isolation and needed a more usable, logistical place.

"There should be a place in Invercargill where people can go and look at art." 

 

 - Stuff

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