Monday, December 10, 2012

Friends and neighbours

Since earthquakes obliterated Christchurch Art Gallery’s ability to operate normally, it has been very busy taking itself in new ways to the city and the country via outreach and the web. It’s been an impressive effort but it must have been depressing for them not to be able to continue with the large scale, big production value shows they were becoming known by. Given that, how did the large exhibition of Shane Cotton’s work curated by Christchurch’s indefatigable Justin Paton avoid becoming another casualty of the disaster and instead open this weekend? Through collegial cooperation, that’s how.
Brisbane’s IMA gallery has always been a strong supporter of New Zealand artists thanks to its director Robert Leonard. He got to Brisbane via head curating jobs at the Auckland Art Gallery and the Dunedin Public Art Gallery and has never lost his commitment to the art of his own country. Since he took over in 2005 Brisbane has had a pretty good taste of what’s on offer from NZ.
By agreeing to partner up with the Christchurch Art Gallery on Shane Cotton’s The hanging sky and launch it from the IMA, Leonard has not only made it available to Brisbane but has also ensured that with the grunt work done it will be shown in NZ too. Perhaps this Australian gesture will serve as a prompt to some of our own art museums. A partnership with Christchurch would be pretty helpful given their continuing lack of a building and a few exhibition posters with the line ‘in association with the Christchurch Art Gallery’ would be good for all of us.
You can see a sample of Shane Cotton’s paintings for the Christchurch Art Gallery/IMA exhibition here and some beautiful shots taken during the installation here.
Image: Australians loving Shane Cotton at the IMA opening in Brisbane