One Chapter Ends and Another Begins (The Best Kind of Story)

On behalf of the team I apologise for our rather large radio silence on the blog front. It has been a massive few months with a long list of events, shifts, and changes requiring our full attention. So here is a pretty quick recap:

For starters, our Don Street home is now a pile of rubble. Many people, including ourselves, have been rather intrigued watching the slow and careful demolition as the old building on the corner was chewed away piece by piece. I relocated my office for the day to the window right in front of the action, in the library study area, for a bird’s eye view of the building coming down.

However, let’s rewind. How did we get here? That is quite a good question. It took all hands on deck and a lot of kindness from the entire GLAM sector here in Southland. The loss of our temporary gallery and the lack of a confirmed new home left us in limbo. The wonderful team at the library knew our situation and took us in with open arms.  After a few of their team members helped us shift our entire art collection over the road, we then helped them clean out a small, fish bowl like office on the second floor of the library, to be our new temporary home. I personally really enjoy being here at the library where I receive lots of morning hellos and have visits from lovely members of the public. For someone who usually hides out the back and works alone I am thoroughly enjoying the social increase. We couldn’t have been made to feel more welcome.

On top of this we have finished shifting the remaining collection out of Anderson House. WOO HOO! Just last week the staff got together at the Black Shag Espresso and Eatery to celebrate (highly recommend the Reuben Sammy there – delicious). It was especially lovely for me to see Chris again who spent many weeks helping me condition report, pack, then unwrap, D-ring and hang the unglazed items of our collection in the library archives. These racks are now full to the brim and the sight of them makes me reflect on the numerous people who helped us get them there. Thank you to you all, from the library staff who held doors for us, or those who helped us carry awkward shaped items up stairs, every little gesture helped. Special mention to the library staff member who snapped a photo of me wheeling in two plaster busts and turned it into a meme of them talking and stuck it near my desk – you rock.

Now that phase one of my project is officially complete I can breathe a sigh of relief. Luckily I am already exactly halfway through phase two – sorting copyright and unframing the works on paper collection so they can receive conservation attention to ensure their longevity from the wonderful Marion Mertens, Paper Conservator. The unframing in particular has been very rewarding. Many dates and even a few artist names have been discovered on the back of artworks. My progress in this area is largely thanks to the delightful Sam, our new volunteer who helps both us and the archives team every Tuesday. Sam is very dedicated and has a very careful and focused nature making her perfect for this task and her other passion of book binding. Thanks to afternoons with Sam I have now developed an addiction to criss cross chips for lunch on Tuesday from the night and Day. If this is the worst outcome of this partnership, I’m not complaining in the slightest.

Speaking of other awesome developments, the ‘Dream it up’ curatorial team for our new collaborative space, which includes Sarah and Gemma from IPAG and David Luoni, David Dudfield, Ari Edgecombe and Lindsay Hazley from SMAG, have been meeting regularly. This group is coming up with some truly wonderful ideas for shows that can happen in this new space. Seeing the two institutions come together and combine brain power and creativity is a very cool thing. IPAG as an institution has, it’s fairly safe to say, never been more involved and connected to the other GLAM institutions in this city (Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums). Only good things are coming from this combined team effort and I can’t wait to see some of the final products.

So, even though I had a bad morning, with missing alarms and escaped foster kittens, writing this blog, and recapping all of our achievements over the last couple of months has made me feel very good about our progress. Sometimes you just have to pause and look back at where you have come from as opposed to the rest of the mountain that lies before you. Keep that perspective. Great things do come to those who work for them.

Thanks for sticking by us in this transition.

Loren Baxter
Assistant Project Registrar