Fiona Connor

Ian Athfield Architects Adam Art Gallery 1999

A letter, office move, and book 2009
The offices of Christina Barton, Anton Berndt, Laura Preston and Thomasin Sleigh; a letter (published below);
Victoria University of Wellington 2009 Guide to Enrolment

I am concerned with creating physical situations where the viewer has to literally negotiate a stand point. In my work to date I have used the actual institutions and architectures that house my work as a starting point. Habitually I have employed building materials, commercial fittings and a 1:1 scale to present something that is both real and represented. I want to activate common supports and start dialogues with the forces that are responsible for them.

When individuals walk into a space, the space is what they have in common. I am interested in being sensitive to these organisational structures and using them as movable materials. This site specific strategy allows me to consistently take part in relevant conversations with what we are faced with already when visiting a site.

I am driven by the specificity of functional things. I want to treat infrastructures uniquely by quoting them directly or through replication. To do this I act out their manufacturing techniques in conjunction with the effects of their immediate environment. I use paint, wax and trompe l’oeil to finish surfaces. I am preoccupied with the ambiguity between found and crafted objects; my work sits between being a direct intervention in the fabric of the site and a selective representation of it.

Field work is an important part of my research. To accomplish this I draw. These drawings transcend mediums in an attempt to deal with subjects in a holistic way. I am also interested in questioning photography as a trusted form of documentation. I want to acknowledge modes of presentation and reveal the telling in the ubiquitous – Fiona Connor

Recent solo exhibitions include:
Something Transparent (Please Go Round The Back), Michael Lett, Auckland 2009
Notes on half the page, Gambia Castle, Auckland 2009
Screening Room, The Physics Room, Christchurch, 2008
Old Buildings, Gambia Castle, Auckland, 2007

Connor has recently completed a series of drawings for the Auckland Art Gallery publication, Reading Room Issue 3 – Art goes on.

July 10, 2009

Adam Art Gallery
Victoria University of Wellington
Gate 3, Kelburn Parade
PO Box 600
Wellington 6140
New Zealand

Dear Adam Art Gallery,

As a component of my work for the exhibition The Future is Unwritten I hope to instigate permanent changes that make the gallery as energy efficient as possible, and move it towards an environmentally conscious operation. The realization of these ideas depends entirely on the gallery’s commitment to change and collaboration with Facilities Management, Victoria University of Wellington. It would be great to get your support. Below I have summarised the gallery’s energy consumption and have made clear recommendations how you may reduce these levels.


Currently the Adam Art Gallery is extremely energy consumptive. 86% of its energy balance is consumed by the air conditioning plant (HVAC) that controls temperature and humidity. The plant is monitored by Facilities Management offsite and in a different building. This system was set up to stabilize conditions for preservation of sensitive artworks but as this is not always a requirement it is running inefficiently. It has been suggested that the system could be switched off for short periods at night or in the summer without endangering conservation standards, however this needs further experimentation.


*Establish clear lines of communication with Andrew Wilks and Facilities Management who are currently responsible for controlling the HVAC plant.

*Request that Glyn Benson from Set Point Solutions install and develop a programme within the gallery which would enable the gallery to directly control the HVAC. This would include different settings i.e. “Off”, “Only on during the day” or “Strict Conservation Standard”. Facilities Management has agreed to pay for this service.

*Allocate time for the Exhibitions Officer to be briefed on the system by Bill Pinkham from Downer and Glyn Benson from Set Point. This will allow gallery staff to make quick informed decisions.

*Be responsive to different climate control needs. Turn off the HVAC when the building is empty and introduce a section in the artist contract and loan agreements where the artist and/or lender can choose what temperature control they require for the exhibition of works.

*Review the allowances for humidity and temperature and consider having different settings for different seasons. For further advice on this consult Glyn Benson or .

*Identify times to experiment with introducing periods of having no HVAC to see if the conditions creep out of the agreed tolerance. This needs to be done in collaboration with Andrew Wilks and Bill Pinkham from Victoria University of Wellington, Rob Bishop from Energy Solutions and Glyn Benson from Set Point Solutions.


In the exhibition spaces there are two types of halogen fittings mounted on Conchord Tracks: wall washers and spotlights. This system is versatile, dimmable and has good properties for display but halogen lights are energy intensive. The bathrooms and new entry have compact fluorescents which are more energy efficient.


*Confirm that the recommendations made in the 2004 Energy Audit have been implemented (checking the night light requirements and repairing the pneumatic timer switch).

*Replace the Radium RJL 90w / 12v / Skylight used in the spotlights with IRC 65watt. These can be purchased through H & S Distributers Limited, Radium NZ Lighting whom the Adam Art Gallery already has an account with.

*Keep up with technological advances in exhibition lighting. For example soon appropriate LED and fluorescent will become available.

*Keep in mind that the dimmers most efficient light/watt output is 80%.

*Be vigilant about turning off unnecessary lights.


Installing a Solar PV system on the roof would help offset the gallery’s energy consumption and demonstrate the gallery’s commitment to endorsing renewable energy. With a standard 25-year warrantee they would easily pay them selves off and provide a reliable source of energy.


*If funds become available to reinvest in the building install a PV Solar system on the roof in consultation with Right House a subsidiary of Meridian, the energy providers of Victoria University of Wellington.

*Be aware of technological developments in the industry.


The gallery consumes around 500 litres of paint a year. Currently it employs Resene’s Decorator Flat interior/exterior. Recent attention has focused on the effect of volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions on our environment. It is estimated by the Paint Quality Institute that 10% of the ozone depleting substances are a direct result of VOC emissions from surface coatings, including mainly standard household paints. Resene makes a VOC product but it is only available in low sheen.


*When possible use Resene Zylone Sheen VOC Free range.


The Adam Art Gallery supports artists from all over the world and benefits hugely from travel. Unfortunately air travel is now the fastest growing contributor to global warming. The contribution to carbon emissions flying round trip from Auckland to Wellington can be reduced by 80% if traveled by train. The initial draw backs are time and money but when you take into account travel to and from the airport, and processing time it only takes twice as long and is comparable in price.


*Offer train travel as an alternative to plane travel in the artist agreement.

Energy Audit Report

In 2004 Energy Solutions Limited delivered a report summarizing the Adam Art Gallery’s energy consumption and things it could do to be more efficient. Many of these things were never implemented.


*Read this report as it will give important back ground and understanding for this project.

This letter makes suggestions for policy change developed through conversations with Andrew Wilks, Anton Berndt, Nigel Saywell, Micah Sherman, Bill Pinkham, Glyn Benson, and Rob Bishop from Energy Solutions. Please let me know what I can do to help you make these moves toward a forward-thinking operation and thank you so much for the invitation to be part of the show.


Fiona Connor

Ian Athfield Architects Adam Art Gallery 2009

Ian Athfield Architects Adam Art Gallery 2009

Ian Athfield Architects Adam Art Gallery 2009

Site Visit May 2008

Site Visit May 2008

Solar Panel Warehouse, Glen Innes Auckland