Monday, September 10, 2012

The waiting game

The Walters Prize certainly continues to bring up a lot of issues around how national our contemporary visual arts culture is. For instance, the commentary from Christchurch that the Prize is Auckland-based and Auckland-centric is mirrored by the fact that none of the four finalists (Simon Denny, Alicia Frankovich, Kate Newby, Sriwhana Spong) have a dealer gallery in the South Island or in Wellington and only one of them is in the collection of a South Island public art museum as a gift to the Christchurch Art Gallery (as listed in the online catalogues at any rate.)
Geographically speaking, people tend to keep to their own (in the beginning stages of careers at least) which has resulted in the move-North-or-vanish effect for Southern artists.
The patterns of public institutional collecting of the four Walters Prize finalists are also interesting and also Auckland-centric. The Auckland Art Gallery has relied on Rob and Sue Gardiner to select most of their collection of the four via the Chartwell Trust. It has an impressive 19 works but only three (all by Spong) were purchased by the Auckland Art Gallery itself. The rest are on loan from Chartwell. Te Papa has two works by Spong, none by Frankovich or Newby and two by Denny (rather optimistically registered as four with one work having each component part recorded as a separate work). By the time you get down to the Christchurch Art Gallery it is just one work by Simon Denny (a gift).
Auckland is relying heavily on the Chartwell Collection to tell its story of contemporary New Zealand art but the others will probably have to pay a premium for waiting.

12 September: The Auckland Art Gallery has corrected our post on their collection of Walters Prize artists. In fact not all of the 13 Simon Denny's registered on their online catalogue were purchased by the Chartwell Collection. One of them, a photograph, was purchased by the gallery. Sorry about that.