Friday, October 18, 2013

It figures

Wellington's City Gallery will be pleased at having halted the precipitous decline in audience numbers it has been experiencing. Since her appointment as director Elizabeth Caldwell can claim near enough to a 30 percent increase (161,681) on last year’s attendances, and has got within spitting distance of the 174,995 the Gallery attracted in 2009/10 when its extensions opened.  The City Gallery has also increased repeat visiting by 12 percent and upped residents' awareness of the place by 11 percent. 

As is usually the case this improvement has largely been achieved by decent programming. Although it remains perversely male oriented (seven of the eleven major exhibitions last year were solo shows by men and the current painting show unnecessarily in this context includes three men to one woman) the City Gallery has started to present exhibitions that illuminate each other rather than just being a grab bag of what’s available. 

The Cotton/Crewdson combo was a textbook example of this. Crewdson intent on creating a painting ambiance in his photographs and Cotton using photography top animate his painting’s compositions sparked an intriguing conversation. We've got another smart move by Caldwell to thank for this in the appointment of Robert Leonard as her senior curator. Leonard has always been a strong programming curator and we can epect a more focused City Gallery.