A Creative New Zealand
New Zealand’s contemporary art scene “boasts established institutions, a healthy commercial scene, and a flourishing network of artist-run spaces,” as catalogued in this year’s artasiapacific Almanac. The Arts Council, Te Waka Toi, and the Pacific Arts Committee spearhead a three-pronged funding effort called Creative New Zealand, supporting grassroots projects and professional artists at home, and sending artists abroad for residencies and exhibitions. In 2009 they will be sending sculptor Francis Upritchard and painter Judy Millar to the Venice Biennale. The Auckland Art Gallery is the major national public venue, host to the Auckland Triennial, and presenter of the Walter’s Prize, the country’s premier contemporary art prize. This year’s recipient, painter and sculptor Peter Robinson was recognized for his immersive installation of rough-hewn Polystyrene forms resembling organic growths. Complementing AAG is a developed network of local arts facilities, including the Te Tuhi Centre for the Arts and the Fresh Gallery Otara, both in Manukau, home of this year’s inaugural Manukau Festival of Arts. Auckland’s art strip lines Karangahape Road, led by Artspace, Starkwhite, the Michael Lett Gallery, and Two Rooms, with a similarly active commercial art industry led by God Langsford and Whitespace. The national museum in Wellington, Te Papa Museum of New Zealand, recently showed the paintings, sketchbooks, studies and unfinished works of modernist pioneer Rita Angus, while the Pataka Museum featured an exhibit of 17 contemporary New Zealand-based Samoan artists working in a variety of medias. New Plymouth’s Govett-Brewster Art Gallery is “the premier contemporary arts organization in the country,” recently showing work by Maori-European painter Shane Cotton, and performance and conceptual artist Lonnie Hutchinson. Meanwhile, Christchurch is the art center of the South island, with the Christchurch Art Gallery, the SCAPE Christchurch Biennial of Public Art, the Physics Room, a leading alternative space, and CoCA, the Center of Contemporary Art. Nationally, One Day Sculpture commissions temporary, site-specific public works. Highlights in 2009 include the third Auckland Art Fair, and New Zealand’s return to the Venice Biennale, funded by Creative New Zealand.