If you visit the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery in New Plymouth at the moment you will find it filled with a survey spanning three years worth of Alex Monteith’s videos curated by the gallery director Rhana Devenport. In this respect it is an exhibition rather than a project specifically created for the gallery and contains work that has already been seen in other venues. However, in publicising the exhibition the gallery has been at pains to note (in media releases, the web site and on the exhibition signage) that, “This is only the third time in the Gallery’s 40-year history that the entire Gallery has been dedicated to a single artist, Monteith follows Leon Narbey in 1970 and Peter Robinson in 2008…”
Hang on a minute. We were visiting artist Don Driver in New Plymouth over the weekend and he had an exhibition in 1999 show that filled the entire gallery (including the Len Lye space with his installation Ritual). Titled With Spirit it was curated by Priscilla Pitts, the then director of the Govett-Brewster. Indeed to our knowledge Don also filled the whole gallery at least once before With Spirit. That was in 1976 (or thereabouts) and while the Len Lye space didn’t exist at that time, that was also the case when Leon Narbey took on the whole gallery so lets nail that one onto the honour roll as well.
In the days before the Len Lye space was added, we would have thought quite few exhibitions took up the entire gallery and some of them must have been single person exhibitions. So it seems more than possible that Don is not alone.