Rain Rain, Go Away and Maybe Don’t Come Another Day

As it pours with rain outside, I sit here at my computer trying to decide on a topic for this blog. Let me tell you, it is not easy! There has been so many things happening at the gallery over the last few months that it’s hard to keep up! From AGM planning to knitted skeletons, things are in steady upward motion here at IPAG. Rain however, has been on the radar a fair amount of late and not always in the best ways!

As you most likely will have heard, we were lucky enough to gain 11 Don Street as our second temporary pop up gallery. It has just finished hosting the awestriking show Anatomy Lessons 2005-2018 by Michele Beevors. The amount of people who walked past the floor to ceiling windows of this space only to stop, point, and let their jaws hit the floor, could only make one smile. With our many heaters going, this space became incredibly inviting to people of all ages to come in and hide from the rain, whilst engaging with some pretty awesome knitted creations. Mr Ed, the horse, developed an alter ego as a dinosaur, and hardly anyone could recognise what Flipper the dolphin looked like in skeletal form.  Groups of all ages and configurations were drawn to the gallery also, from knitting and anatomy groups through to SIT and Dunedin School of Art students and kindergartens. Since our move into the city centre, I do not think the gallery has ever received so much publicity! Visitor numbers sky rocketed, with around 60-80 people a day and Gemma had to ‘say cheese’ for the papers around 4 times over the two weeks. Even the More fm radio guys couldn’t help themselves. They walked past twice before deciding they had to knock and ask about what was being set up inside!

The only challenge presented by this space was the rain. The realities of working with collections is that you become super aware of climate and the risk of leaks, fires etc to these items. One day, when the rain was very heavy, the gutter on the roof backed up and overflowed so badly that a small stream of water was coming in under the front door of 11 Don Street. Gemma and I had to become expert water control officers, creating sand bags out of towels and ensuring the safety of the artworks until the ILT building team fixed the issue. No one can predict a leak but by checking our spaces every morning, especially during winter or patches of bad weather, we do our best to keep our collections and spaces safe.  We do the same with electronics, unplugging things overnight that will not be in use, to help prevent wire shortages and electrical fires.

With the bad weather seeming to set in and winter fast approaching, we as a team want to quickly get as much art out of Anderson House as possible. Over the past two months Chris, our gallery assistant, and I have wrapped all the art that can safely be transported by that method. Now the works which remain at the house unwrapped include oversized or heavy items, and our 3D collection. The best way to transport ceramics is often by nesting them in special HDPE crates. This heavy duty plastic is strong, durable and doesn’t break down and off gas over time like other types of plastic. To transport works in bad weather is never ideal, however, to have items safely packed in sealable lidded crates means we can transport our ceramics if the weather is not ideal, aka a typical southland winters day.

After a good few days of measuring ceramics we worked out the number of crates we would need to purchase to transport the 3D collection. It will cost around $3000 for all the crates alone! On top of this cost we will have to factor in foam, tools, Tyvek, and truck hire. Safely moving a collection is a massive undertaking and the cost of collection management and relocation is not something people realise. It is good to be able to teach people about this though, which is why this is one of the things the staff will be speaking about at the upcoming AGM in June.

Our AGM is fast approaching, and as a new staff member to IPAG, and a new entrant to the post grad workforce, it’s all very new for me.  Gemma and Sarah, along with board are doing a wonderful job putting together all the required documentation alongside running two exhibition venues. That leaves me to ensure that the collection store rooms and Ehive are up to scratch for the day. As our entire collection now has its basic information, such as title, artist, date, medium, valuations, on Ehive, we thought it would be good to be able to show this to our members and supporters at the AGM, as well as offer tours of our back of house spaces. Whilst we are proud of achieving so much, we must stress that there are still miles to go regarding the digitisation of our collection. We must gain copyright from artists or estates before any works can go live for general public viewing, as well as, continuing the scanning and attachment of any hard copy collection documentation we have to the appropriate records to ensure its safe keeping. As I like to tell myself…. Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming … and it will happen.

If you want to hear more, please feel free to come along to the AGM, June the 10th, 7pm, 5 Don Street.

See you there!

Loren Baxter
Assistant Project Registrar