NZ art collection goes on display

By Percy Thomson Gallery director, RHONDA BUNYAN

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BNZ heritage manager Barbara Allen creating self portraits with a group of children from St Joseph's School last week.
BNZ heritage manager Barbara Allen creating self portraits with a group of children from St Joseph's School last week.

Taranaki locals have a rare opportunity to see some of New Zealand's finest artworks right here in Stratford.

Percy Thomson Gallery is home to 36 pieces from the acclaimed BNZ Art Collection until September 11.

ARRIVAL, Treasures from the BNZ Art Collection features work by icons of New Zealand art history including Colin McCahon, Pat Hanly, Ralph Hotere, Tony Fomison, Don Binney, Philip Clairmont and Toss Woollaston.

The theme of the exhibition is 'connection' and the works selected for this exhibition explore our connection to the land, the complexity of relationships and the beginning and endings of journeys.

During the 1980s renowned Wellington gallerist Peter McLeavey was commissioned to purchase an art collection which would 'clothe the walls' of the BNZ Centre, add an extra dimension to the normal business day and demonstrate the bank's commitment to a 'fuller quality of life' for staff, clients and visitors. No small task!

A number of factors were at play, creating the perfect environment in which BNZ could establish an art collection. The economic boom, a golden period of New Zealand art, BNZ's art-minded general manager, Mr W J Shaw, and a newly-built head office all supported this bold initiative.

Jill Trevelyan's 2013 biography Peter McLeavey, The life and times of a New Zealand art dealer highlights the significance of McLeavey's role.

"His first task was to establish some objectives for the collection: it would focus on contemporary art, maintain a high standard and reflect a national identity."

The selection of artworks for the Stratford exhibition was co-ordinated by BNZ heritage manager Barbara Allen and her team.

This will be the first time BNZ has exhibited a large portion of the significant collection outside of its offices, making it a must-see for locals and art lovers from throughout New Zealand.

Local artist John McLean has been invited to exhibit two paintings.

It is a real coup for the gallery to secure an exhibition of this calibre.

Percy Thomson Gallery really is an ideal venue for the exhibition in heartland Taranaki.

Entry to the exhibition is free, but a koha would be appreciated.

- Stratford Press

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