The More You Know: The Victoria University of Wellington Art Collection in Context

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Adam Art Gallery Te Pātaka Toi launches its 2015 programme with a suite of three exhibitions that bring together seldom-seen gems, new acquisitions, and works borrowed for the occasion, to offer fresh insights into and deepen knowledge of the Victoria University of Wellington Art Collection.


Then and Now, Here and Nowhere

Gavin Hipkins, Peter Trevelyan, Shaun Waugh, Kate Woods, and Brent Wong

Brent Wong’s surreal late 1960s’ paintings of empty New Zealand landscapes, in which strange geometrical forms impossibly appear, are paired with a new generation of artists, who also explore spatial juxtaposition and abstract modeling to uncanny or critical ends. This exhibition is an opportunity to celebrate the long-standing generosity of the artist, who lent two paintings to Victoria University and Wellington College of Education (now Victoria’s Faculty of Education) after their exhibition at the University Library in 1975. It is also an occasion to reassess the ongoing potency of their imagery, through the lens of contemporary art that seems to echo Wong’s aesthetic.


Give and Take/Hoki Whakamuri, Haere Whakamua

Dynamic Cultural Forms in Aotearoa New Zealand

The Feilding Panel was gifted to the Victoria University of Wellington Art Collection in 2013. A precious legacy of a defining time in the careers of several artists and in the development of biculturalism in Aotearoa New Zealand, it was carved by students (including then-emerging Maori artists Cliff Whiting and Paratene Matchitt, amongst others) of Gordon Tovey (1901–1974), the inspiring supervisor of arts and crafts in the Department of Education. It demonstrates  the practical steps Tovey took to train arts advisors and teachers to embrace Maori and European arts and crafts so they could integrate these into their teaching and develop their own creative practices. This not only ensured that New Zealand children were exposed to indigenous art from an early age and enabled to explore their creative potential as an integral dimension of the curriculum, but it also encouraged new generations of artists to work at the interstices of the two cultures that make up New Zealand society. This exhibition considers the legacy of such an approach by bringing together a range of works by Maori, Pakeha, and Pasifika artists from the VUW Art Collection whose practices explore the rich cultural traditions and complex cross-cultural histories that have shaped Aotearoa New Zealand.


The Private World of Gordon H. Brown

Art Historian, Artist, Collector

Gordon H. Brown is perhaps best known as Colin McCahon’s biographer and for his co-authorship with Hamish Keith of the landmark Introduction to New Zealand Painting (1969), the first book to set out a history of painting that famously argued for the primacy of landscape and hard-edged depiction as the subject and representational mode most truthful to the nature of this place. This exhibition presents another side to the art historian, bringing together his own drawings and paintings of the 1950s and 1960s, with works from his personal collection, which he gifted to Victoria University in 2010. These provide a rare opportunity to explore another side to Brown as a creative consumer of art and literature, whose personal taste bears little resemblance to the aesthetic standpoint with which he is normally associated.

With thanks to Tivoli Art/Books/Film, Waiheke Island and Mahara Gallery, Waikanae.


For events associated with the exhibition, please view our Public Programme.