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My Beginnings at IPAG

To be honest my first month here at IPAG, as the Assistant Project Registrar, has been a true baptism by fire and I couldn’t have enjoyed it more. Four weeks ago now I packed up my humble abode in Wellington, loaded my poor old car to the brim and drove the length of the South Island and some to move back home to Invercargill. My inner self was a little out of sorts at the realisation that I was moving back in with the parents on the eve of my 25th birthday. Luckily, they love me enough to take me back in, household lot of items and all.

From the moment I walked in on the first day I had to put my collections management skills to use as we worked solidly for a week de-installing the show titled “As Others See Us”. The beauty of this situation was that IPAG were working in partnership with SAF (Southland Art Foundation) and SMAG (Southland Museum and Art Gallery) on this show meaning that I a.) got to network with other fellow southland arts professionals and b.) observe and learn how another institution handles, packs, shifts and manages their art collection.

Having a natural awe of brilliant organisation and methodical systems as well as a practised attention to detail (honed from playing numerous eye spy books in my childhood) means I have a desire to observe what is behind closed doors in every art based institution. Recently, this desire was more than fulfilled when I participated in the Open Palace Programme over in the United Kingdom. Here I joined a group of likeminded art and heritage professionals and students to tour around heritage sites and buildings for twenty days. The goal was to learn as much as possible and experience the combined reality and beauty of managing art and historic buildings in this part of the world.

One example I will never forget was the beautiful Woburn Abbey. Its original purpose is clear in its name, however, this building is now home to the current Duke of Bedford and his family, as well as having a public garden, state room examples, pottery shop, function venue, café, and numerous gallery spaces. Despite the apparent beauty of this place, when viewed with a critical eye, rooms such as the state rooms, began to show their faults; extreme fading and textile deterioration, poor visitor flow and pathways, and museum and gallery spaces with problematic display spaces. The managers of Woburn Abbey were more than forthcoming about these faults and allowed us as professionals to brainstorm ways to eliminate or improve many of the issues we identified on our tour of the stately home. This simple exercise allowed us to see exactly how challenging it is to balance all of these different purposes under one roof and how best practice is incredibly time consuming, costly and often difficult even for the biggest, most well - established and frequented institutions.

Beginning my job here with this information fresh in my brain has been very beneficial. I can approach the situation here in Invercargill with understanding of both the technical and emotional issues. As a child who grew up here and frequently visited Anderson House and gardens with my nana, I do appreciate the value and significance this house has for the people of Invercargill. But I must admit that I was very surprised to learn that the art in the house was not the Anderson’s. I suspect that many locals, like myself, believed that the art housed at Anderson House belonged to the Anderson family and was gifted along with the house. It was only through applying for my job as Assistant Project Registrar that I learnt Invercargill Public Art Gallery was formed years before it moved into Anderson’s House and in honour of this generous gift from the Anderson family changed its name to suit. While the association between Anderson House and the art contained within is clearly a strong one, the reality is this art collection belongs to us, the people, the city, not to Anderson House. In looking to protect and preserve this collection it is now critical to look beyond this historical association. This is one of the key challenges for our team at IPAG.

Lastly, I am here to focus on the art. Despite there being several competing challenges around this collection, including heritage building management, collections management and the condition of the artworks, my principal task is to make the best decisions possible for the art.  This includes ensuring it is digitally documented on Ehive, condition checking and reporting on every one of the 1000 pieces and then safely transporting and resettling them into their new climate controlled home.  I am also tasked with sorting through the mountains of stored paperwork regarding all the artworks. I have already discovered beautiful childhood photos of all the old staff and board members and true gems such as a handwritten letter from Colin McCahon and documentation which authenticates our Goldie.

I hope my time here at IPAG will benefit the Invercargill community and help IPAG get prepared for whatever lies ahead in the future with the proposed new art centre.

Please feel free to let me know your thoughts on this blog. Have you enjoyed it or is there something you want me to cover in my next piece?

-Loren Baxter, Assistant Project Registrar

Adrienne Martyn

IPAG are thrilled to be working with acclaimed NZ fine art photographer Adrienne Martyn on her upcoming project at Anderson House. Adrienne approached the Gallery in 2016 with a proposal for a new body of work based on her previous project, Looking for the Subject, completed as part of her MFA at the University of Auckland. This was a poignant investigation of art gallery interiors, focusing on how the picture frame operates as a device to present art.

At Anderson House, Adrienne proposes to create a series of photographs that convey the atmosphere and light of the spaces within the building, invoking a sense of its rich past as an art gallery.

In Adrienne’s own words… “I propose draping/covering artworks and furniture either fully or partially with lightweight white fabric to suggest and question what lies underneath. The images of shrouded art objects would also suggest past lives of the building as a home then an art gallery. Objects covered with white cloth resemble dust covers evoking the current reality of a place in transition. The folds in the cloth and how they respond aesthetically to illumination would add a still-life dimension to this body of work. I would photograph the veiled objects in their interior ‘gallery’ spaces to provide context.”

After a few months of planning and obtaining clearance for Adrienne to access Anderson House, we are pleased to announce that she is heading to Invercargill shortly to undertake this exciting project. We believe this is a wonderful way to honour the rich history of this house, as well as celebrate and document this time of transition for the gallery.

Of special note, Adrienne has past connections to Anderson House as her grandfather, Adrian Turner, worked on the site as a carpenter and her great aunt, Vivienne, married Alf Ball, one of the original builders. Raised in Invercargill, it was also where Adrienne first experienced a formal art exhibition and therefore returning to undertake this project has great personal meaning for her.

The project will culminate in an exhibition of Adrienne’s work from the project in 2018, as well as a set of A2 prints being donated to the IPAG collection. Keep an eye out for more information about this project as it develops!

 

Welcome Loren Baxter

IPAG are pleased to welcome Loren Baxter on board as our new Assistant Project Registrar. We thought you might like to know a few things about Loren, so we asked her to introduce herself...

"Born and raised in Invercargill I am excited to be returning home to work with the IPAG team and its collection. I have completed an undergraduate degree at Otago University in Anthropology and Visual Culture followed by a Masters of Museum and Heritage Practice at Victoria University of Wellington. In the past, I have been involved with the Royal New Zealand Police Museum and Pataka Art + Museum in Wellington.

I am looking forward to putting my years of study into action and helping care for and preserve this very special collection for the benefit of the Southland Community. On the side I enjoy playing hockey, baking treats and going to the gym and yoga classes."

IPAG would like to thank the Community Trust of Southland for funding for this key position as part of our Collection Transition and Relocation Project.

New Assistant Curator/Administrator

IPAG is thrilled to welcome Gemma Baldock to our small team, as the gallery's new Assistant Curator/Administrator.

Gemma achieved her Bachelor of Fine Arts at the Dunedin School of Art and most recently developed and honed her gallery skills as the manager of City Gallery Invercargill. She is no stranger to IPAG, having frequently helped us out in the past, so we are thrilled to have her on board officially.

Gemma’s smiley face will be the first point of contact in our temporary gallery in Don Street, so we hope you will say hello and welcome her on board next time you pop in.

Free kids art workshops at the gallery

As part of our 'Kids can Curate' exhibition, we are running free after-school art workshops inspired by the artwork on display. Spaces are limited. Please register by emailing info@invercargillpublicartgallery.nz or calling 215 7432.

Scheduled workshops:

  • Tue 8 Nov, 3:45–4:30pm: Animal Fashion for 5-8 years
  • Tue 15 Nov, 4–5pm: Paper sculpture for 13+ years
  • Tue 22 Nov, 4–4:45pm: Paper Sculpture for 9–12 years
  • Tue 29 Nov, 3:45–4:30pm: Animal Fashion for 5-8 years
  • Tue 6 Dec, 3:45–4:30pm: Animal Fashion for 5-8 years
  • Tue 13 Dec, 3:45–4:30pm: Animal Fashion for 5-8 years

Younger/older siblings are welcome to join the workshops.

The project is supported by a Creative Communities grant and sponsorship from the Invercargill Licensing Trust.

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