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A rare window into the workings of 28 small galleries and creative spaces around the city. Curators of Wellington is a short film series presented by CubaDupa and ArtExplore, produced by Mark Amery for the Wellington Independent Arts Trust. In response to Covid-19 lockdown this began in 2020 as a series of dozens of interviews with galleries and their artists filmed and distributed via social media. You can view them here. With major funding from the Wellington City Council and galleries.
Curators of Wellington | Episode 28: InkLink Studio with Stan Chan
A space in Cuba Street’s Left Bank dedicated to the hands on teaching and conversation for all around Chinese culture, Stan Chan is a Wellington treasure, introducing Chinese brush drawing, calligraphy and opera to generations. Suzanne Tamaki gets to sit down with Stan over a cup of green tea surrounded by years of creative work.
Curators of Wellington | Episode 27: The Nomadic Art Gallery with Hori
Featuring artist guest spots from Chimp, Mica Still, Greta Menzies, Zack, and an interview with Hori with an exhibition of recent work, Suzanne Tamaki visits a mobile art gallery in a truck, the dynamic Nomadic Art Gallery on the Wellington waterfront.
Curators of Wellington | Episode 26: Meanwhile with Kate Glasson and painter Teresa Collins
Meanwhile is one of two dynamic artist run initiatives in Te Whanganui a Tara. Begun in 2016, they now run an exhibition programme and studio space on level 2 99 Willis Street – open Thursday to Saturday 11 till 2. Mark Amery spoke to current co-facilitator Kate Glasson and painter Teresa Collins who brought together exhibition Hi Hi Walls with Negin Dastgheib and Olly Zander-Jones which ran from 14 November to 25 November.
Curators of Wellington | Episode 25: Hamish McKay Gallery with Tanya Ashken
Curators of Wellington | Episode 24: Photospace with artist Mary Macpherson
Meet two legends of New Zealand’s photographic scene. For over 20 years James Gilberd has provided a vital space in Courtenay Place for the exhibition, development and support of Aotearoa’s community of photographers. Photospace is much more than just a gallery but runs a quality varied presentation programme and has a second exhibition space Gilberd Marriott Gallery for artworks in other media. Photographer, poet and editor at Photoforum Mary Macpherson has shown work here many times and for this film re-presents her series The Long View: Auckland Photographs 2014-2017.
Curators of Wellington | Episode 23: Page Galleries with artists John Walsh and Negin Dastgheib
Marcia Page is one of New Zealand’s longest standing art dealers, beginning in the eye of the stockmarket crash in 1987. Moving from Tinakori Road to town she now runs Page Galleries in what was New Zealand’s first arcade on Victoria Street, showing both some of NZ’s most established artists and the new and emerging. Two great examples interviewed here are John Walsh with Uawa Tolaga Bay and Negin Dastgheib with Rising (15 October – 7 November 2020).
Curators of Wellington | Episode 22: Avid Gallery with glass artists Claudia Borella and Layla Walter
Mark Amery meets Peter Cavanagh, and leading glass artists Claudia Borella and Layla Walter, who work in distinctively different ways. Curators of Wellington explores Wellington’s many creative and art spaces, highlighting the work of those who run them. Avid Gallery are distinct in Wellington for their long commitment to contemporary arts objects, New Zealander ceramicists and jewellers. It’s a stylish Aladdin’s Cave split over three spaces.
Curators of Wellington | Episode 21: Thistle Hall with Claire Harris and Cosmo Bones
Thistle Hall as a community space of over 100 years age has a very special cultural place in Cuba Street and Wellington, and an important site in recent decades across the arts and collective citizens cultural activity. These days its has a smart gallery space that hosts a weekly changing exhibitions programme that reflects the diversity of Wellington and of the arts beyond the dealer and public galleries. In this video Pip Adam meets trustee and artist Claire Harris, and exhibiting artist Cosmo Bones. Cosmo’s exhibition is a good example of the exciting role Thistle Hall plays – her first exhibition, she is nonetheless a much respected, talented illustrator and zinemaker with a sophisticated and distinctive approach to combining text and image to provide work that seeks to empower people in its personal, witty yet pointed exploration of mental health.
Curators of Wellington | Episode 20: Precinct 35 with Robbie Fraser
Pip Adam meets owner of Precinct35 Prak Sritharan in Ghuznee Street, who runs a hybrid of design store and gallery, both reflecting his love of fine contemporary objects. The gallery is notable in Wellington for Prak’s support of many talented emerging artists, making it an important part of the local creative community. Currently showing though is Auckland pasinter Robbie Fraser, whose urban lockdown experience inspired geometric abstraction fits strongly with Precinct35’s aesthetic.
Curators of Wellington | Episode 19: Exhibitions Gallery with Jhana Millers
Pip Adam meets art dealer Jhana Millers, who has taken her experience as an artist and working with emerging artists into the dealer gallery scene in the beautiful MIbar building to represent an exciting stable of artists. Pip also meets an equally talented young ceramicist Jaime Jenkins, with her exhibition Stone Age, which ran from 8 October to 31 October.
Curators of Wellington | Episode 18: Exhibitions Gallery Piera McArthur
Pip Adam meets the extraordinary painter Piera McArthur who at age 91, remains exuberant and unstoppable. They are joined by gallery director Ron Epskamp, who established Exhibitions in 2007. This is the latest episode of a conversation series with the small galleries, creative spaces and artists that make Wellington sing. Piera’s exhibition ‘The Death and Resurrection of Luigi Spinelli’ (and other stories…) ran from 24 September to 24 October 2020 and was last shown in Moscow in 1989! It has quite the narrative.
Curators of Wellington | Episode 17: Vincents Art Workshops with Glen McDonald and Andrew Mitchell
In this episode of a conversation series with the small galleries, creative spaces and artists that make Wellington sing, Suzanne Tamaki visits the dynamic, remarkable art workshop Vincents in the Willis Street Village, which welcomes people from all sectors of society to express themselves. She catches up with director Glen McDonald and senior tutor Andrew Mitchell, introduced to the diverse facilities. Among the artists working, Dan Ross and Beth Mays displayed their work, which was on from 7 October to 21 October 2020.
Curators of Wellington | Episode 16: The Engine Room with Sian Stephens and Sabina Rizos-Shaw
In this episode of a conversation series with the small galleries, creative spaces and artists that make Wellington sing, Pip Adam visits the dynamic space The Engine Room up on Puke Ahu at Massey University’s College of Creative Arts. She meets artist and lecturer Richard Reddaway and ‘dons a cow’s udder’ with 2018 graduates Sian Stephens and Sabina Rizos-Shaw. Their exhibition How Now? ran from 30 September to 16 October 2020.
Curators of Wellington | Episode 15: Solander Gallery with Marci Tackett
In this episode, Mark Amery meets dealers Vincent Drane and Paulette Robinson from Solander Gallery on Willis Street. With a passion for printmaking, Solander is a rare fine arts enterprise; representing and advocating for a large community of contemporary artists who predominately work on paper. Mark also speaks to printmaker Marci Tackett whose exhibition Energy and Matter was on from 2 September to 10 October 2020.
Curators of Cuba | Episode 14 : Potocki Paterson with artist Shelley Masters
In episode #14, the final of a conversation series with galleries and artists that help make the Cuba Street area dynamic, Suzanne Tamaki meets dealer Dylan Potocki with his gallery upstairs on Dixon Street, and painter Shelley Masters whose exhibition The Distance Between Us was on from 27 June to 1 September.
Curators of Cuba | Episode 13 : Roar! Gallery
In episode #13 of a conversation series with galleries and artists that help make the Cuba Street area dynamic, Suzanne Tamaki heads to Left Bank off Cuba Mall to the fabulous Roar!, a not-for-profit exhibition space supporting artists from Pablos Art Studios with limited access to traditional dealer galleries. In the collective spirit of Pablos, Suzanne speaks to gallery manager Mel Upjohn, volunteer Jolyn Wills and artists Soraya Xe, Paul Holmes and Andrea Penrice about some of the work they produced during Lockdown. As Suzanne notes Roar! And Pablos are in fundraising mode for their crucial services. Visit! Support!
Curators of Cuba | Episode 12 : Hunters and Collectors with Love My Leather Jacket
In episode #12 of a conversation series with galleries and artists that help make the Cuba Street area dynamic, Mark Amery heads to the iconic creative enterprise Hunters and Collectors, which is celebrating its 35th anniversary with an exhibition of works inspired by the leather jacket. Mark speaks to owner and curator Christina O and the curator of Love My Leather Jacket Bob Buck, with fellow artist Suzanne Tamaki. This exhibition ran from 4 July to August 3 2020.
Curators of Cuba | Episode 11 : Mossman Gallery with artist Séraphine Pick
In episode #11 of a conversation series with galleries and artists that help make the Cuba Street area dynamic, Pip Adam heads to Garrett Street to talk to Mossman Gallery director Danae Mossman and Wellington painter Séraphine Pick about her exhibition Sum of sound waves. This exhibition ran from 3 July to 1 August 2020.
Curators of Cuba | Episode 10 : Te Auaha with Olivia Kirikiri and artist Vernon Bowden
In episode #10 of a conversation series with galleries and artists that help make Cuba Street dynamic, Suzanne Tamaki talks to Te Auaha Gallery producer Olivia Kirikiri and artist Vernon Bowden having a great discussion about applied arts and his bold installation based jewellery show Geegaws running from 4 July to 28 July 2020.
Curators of Cuba | Episode 9 : Enjoy Contemporary Art Space with Georgette Brown
Episode #9 of a filmed conversation series with the galleries and artists that help make Cuba Street, Te Aro, Wellington area as dynamic as it is, Mark Amery talks to Director Sophie Davis and Associate Curator Simon Gennard about contemporary art space Enjoy, celebrating its 20th anniversary. Also, artist Georgette Brown talking about her work created during lockdown, part of Fire-Lit Kettle (19 June to 25 July 2020), curated by Sophie, which we have lots of glimpses of.
Curators of Cuba | Episode 8 : Toi Pōneke with Eve Armstrong and Sian Torrington
In episode #8 of a filmed conversation series with the galleries and artists that help make Cuba Street, Te Aro, Wellington area as dynamic as it is, Mark Amery talks to artists Sian Torrington and Eve Armstrong, Senior Arts Advisor WCC about Toi Pōneke. Toi Pōneke has become an important space for exhibition, support and residence for Wellington artists since 2004. Sian Torrington introduces her exhibition I’m glad you’re here, just the way you are which ran from 1 June to 18 July 2020.
Curators of Cuba | Episode 7 : The See Here and French Art Shop
Episode #7 of a filmed conversation series with galleries and artists that help make Cuba Street, Te Aro dynamic, Suzanne Tamaki talks to artists Pam Brabants, Vivien Atkinson and Becky Bliss about one of Wellington’s most unique art spaces, The See Here. The See Here is a white rectangular box for exhibitions viewable from the street, currently at the French Art Shop 70 Ghuznee Street. Made up of a collective of Wellington based artists, The See Here is dedicated to producing work that engages with its physical parameters as a window gallery, the latest Becky Bliss’s ‘Play Fair’.
10 years old, this year this is The See Here’s third location, and it’s now looking for a fourth with The French Art Shop due to close this month. We speak to Kristine Garay about the store’s support of artists , the ‘zine dispensing machine’ Lucky Drop which opened in February and find out about the origins of the giant pen sculpture in the window..
Curators of Cuba | Episode 6 : Suite Gallery with Ans Westra
In episode #6 of a filmed conversation series with the galleries and artists that help make Cuba Street, Te Aro, Wellington area as dynamic as it is, Pip Adam talks to Craig Beardsworth of Suite Gallery and photographer Ans Westra (7.24min). Suite not only shows a wide range of contemporary artists it is home to the Westra archive and a museum dedicated to Ans work, including an impressive Cuba Street courtyard.
Curators of Cuba| Episode 5: McLeavey Gallery with Darryn George
In episode #5 of a filmed conversation series with the galleries and artists that help make Cuba Street, Te Aro, Wellington area as dynamic as it is, Suzanne Tamaki talks to Grace Ridley-Smith and painter Darryn George (7.24min). McLeavey Gallery is something of an icon in Cuba Street, present here upstairs for 52 years, and Darruyn george has been showing with the gallery for more than 20 of those. Grace speaks about her connection to the gallery since childhood, and Darryn both his special relationship with the gallery and a bold change in his painting practice. His exhibition All Kinds of Trees ran from 3 June to 27 June 2020.
Curators of Cuba| Episode 4: Robert Heald Gallery with Richard Frater
When you visit or work in a gallery space, time can slow down. There’s often none of the ‘jump cut’ distraction with street traffic of a high street retail space. In episode #4 of Curators of Cuba we fall in line with that slowing down, with a look around Robert Heald Gallery. Mark Amery talks to gallerist Robert Heald who is celebrating 10 years in the Left Bank off Cuba Mall and recently moved into larger upstairs premises and we start with a look around Brittle Star an exhibition of the work of self taught artists James Castle, Susan Te Kahurangi King, and Melvin Way, curated by Richard Bryant. Then Mark talks to Richard Frater in Berlin (9.33min) about his exhibition What remains of a naturalist, running from 22 May to 20 June 2020.
Curators of Cuba| Episode 3: Kiwi Art House with Tatyana Kulida
In episode #3 of a filmed conversation series with the galleries and artists that help make Cuba Street, Te Aro, Wellington area as dynamic as it is, Pip Adam talks to Florence Academy-trained painter Tatyana Kulida and gallery owner Alan Aldridge. Kiwi Art House is based at the top of Cuba Street in a restored historic building that was once owned by Carmen and was home to Mr Smiles legendary junk shop. Tatyana speaks about painting at home during lockdown with light and the simple things around her. Her exhibition Still Life is Isolation ran from 2 June to 21 June 2020.
Curators of Cuba| Episode 2: Bartley + Company Art with Peter Trevelyan
In episode #2 of a filmed conversation series with the galleries and artists that help make Cuba Street, Te Aro, Wellington area as dynamic as it is, Mark Amery talks to artist Peter Trevelyan (8.45min in) and gallerist Alison Bartley. Bartley + Art Company is based in what was once a stables for the Gear Meat Company on Ghuznee just off Cuba, and now houses a stable of excellent artists. Peter Trevelyan speaks of his move into sustainability with plastics, working from Runanga on the West Coast. Peter introduced his exhibition Differentiate which ran from 27 May to 20 June 2020.
Curators of Cuba | Episode 1 : Bowen Galleries with Shona Rapira-Davies
In episode #1 of a filmed conversation series with the galleries and artists that help make Cuba Street, Te Aro, Wellington area as dynamic as it is, Pip Adam talks to artist Shona Rapira-Davies and gallerists Jenny Nelligan and Penney Moir of Bowen Galleries. As Jenny and Shona relate, Bowen began with some good stories in Bowen Street itself back in 1981 and has been representing many fine artists since. Shona Rapira Davies speaks of her relationship to the gallery and introduces exhibition There are no bees in my garden (8 April – 14 June 2020).
The full series of 14 interviews with galleries and their artists is being filmed and distributed via social media over June and July.
The programme has been presented with the assistance of Wellington Independent Arts Trust, with funding from Wellington City Council, ArtExplore and at least a dozen participating art spaces.
Curators of Cuba was due to be launched as part of the CubaDupa street festival as a weekend roving discussion series in late March. With the support of council and the trust, it has now been expanded as a documentary conversation project, available to all online.
From veteran galleries on the strip like McLeavey and Bowen Galleries, to newer-comers like Mossman and Robert Heald; from public spaces like Toi Pōneke to new art spaces in retail like Precinct35, the series explores the dynamic work being done by creative businesses. Artists include well-known names like Ans Westra, Dane Mitchell, Peter Trevelyan and Shona Rapira Davies, but equally introduce you to many newcomers. The conversations are led by writer Pip Adam, artist Suzanne Tamaki and curator and writer Mark Amery, with videography by Oscar Keys.
The Cuba Street area is home to a large concentration of galleries, private and public,” says producer Mark Amery. “I often take ArtExplore tour groups to them, and many people are surprised they even exist. The public don’t always have the confidence to cross the threshold, or get the chance to appreciate what remarkable work these galleries do on behalf of our artists.
“Celebrating CubaDupa’s mission to connect up the streets with its people, with camera this series opens up the doors, in the hope you’ll return to visit them yourselves.”
The Curators of Cuba series will be rolled out via the CubaDupa and ArtExplore Facebook and Instagram feeds, and at the CubaDupa Youtube page.
For more information contact Mark Amery [email protected]