Monday, February 25, 2013


The closing of Sue Crockford’s gallery after 28 years didn’t exactly make the front page of the NZ Herald (or any other page for that matter) but it is significant. Apart from some remarkable exhibitions in a number of venues Crockford was also one of a new kind of dealer with ambition and international connections. She confidently included artists from beyond NZ on her roster so that Pae White, Daniel Buren, Boyd Webb, Bill Culbert and memorably once Sol LeWitt got to show in Auckland.
This focused style has repercussions for her artists. Along with other dealers many of her artists were solely represented in NZ by the gallery with most of them not showing South of the Bombay Hills. This leaves some big names without NZ representation. Most affected must be Bill Culbert who is representing NZ at Venice this year. Fortunately he does have Roslyn Oxley in Sydney to play pick up and that will matter this year, dealers play a much more important role in the public arena than they are often given credit for. They are the record holders and context setters and, as institutional curators and directors rarely visit artists’ studios, the gatekeepers who help shape our public collections. Sole dealer relationships tends to make their contribution and cooperation all the more critical.
So apart from Culbert who else is up for grabs? There are at least half a dozen younger artist who only have the Sue Crockford Gallery representing them in NZ along with some artists with serious reputations like Peter Robinson (who also shows at McLeavey), Gretchen Albrecht (who now has no dealer representation in NZ), John Reynolds (who will no doubt settle with Starkwhite) and Laurence Aberhart. There’s also a couple of estates. Gordon Walters and Julian Dashper were both key artists and both need commercial fizz to keep their lights from dimming while the public institutions inch toward survey exhibitions (Walters’ last survey was 30 years ago and Dashper has never had one in New Zealand).  The overseas artists probably won’t have Auckland at the top of their wish list but lets hope someone steps up for Culbert. But whichever way you look at it there is a lot to assimilate. The music has stopped, watch those chairs.