New boss out to grow gallery's audience

02:29, Feb 12 2014
Simon Rees
TOP ROLE: Simon Rees has taken up the reins this week as the new director of the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery and the Len Lye Centre.

Simon Rees has returned to Taranaki to lead the region's premier art gallery into the future.

The 42-year-old has moved back to New Plymouth from Vienna with his wife Nicole and his 3-year-old son Misha.

Mr Rees, who grew up in Whanganui, worked at the Govett-Brewster gallery almost 10 years ago as the curator of contemporary art.

He has since gone on to work in galleries in Lithuania and Vienna.

"For the past 12 or 13 years I have been a very good number two, or three, now it's time for me to lead a gallery and a team," he said.

Mr Rees said the Govett-Brewster was without compare in New Zealand and rivalled galleries across the globe.


He was committed to continuing the gallery's reputation and focus on contemporary art made and exhibited in New Zealand.

When Mr Rees and his family settle into a house in Taranaki he is hoping to display his entire personal collection of photography in one home.

The collection is dotted across the globe, with some of it in Auckland, Sydney and Vienna.

"I collect photography for myself, and although a lot of it is currently in a shipping container, this will be the first time in 15 years that all parts of my collection are together," he said.

His collection includes work from prominent New Zealand photographers, including Ann Shelton and Laurence Aberhart.

His knowledge in contemporary art from around the Pacific Rim, as well as his experience and contacts in the European art world, is something Mr Rees is hoping to put to good use during his time at the helm of the the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery.

"I want to make the most of all of my international contacts, for the community of New Plymouth, New Zealand and Australia.

"I say Australia as well, because I think we can broaden the audience," he said.

He brings a wealth of experience to his second time at Taranaki's most high profile gallery.

After leaving Govett-Brewster at the end of 2004, Mr Rees took up a role in Lithuania at the Contemporary Art Centre in Vilnius, first as a curator and editor, then as head of exhibitions.

Since 2011 he has been head of programming and development at MAK - the Austrian Museum of Applied Arts, in Vienna - with responsibilities for museum management, curatorial development and fundraising.

The Govett-Brewster Art Gallery will reopen in 2015 as a combined facility with the Len Lye Centre.

Taranaki Daily News