Also written by Mercedes Ackerman
A multi-million dollar investment from the Government is the perfect birthday present for a Whanganui gallery’s milestone celebrations.
On Friday it was announced that Sarjeant Gallery would receive a $12 million dollar investment from the Government’s Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) for an exciting redevelopment project. This coincided with the Gallery’s 100th birthday celebration, and means there will be plenty of opportunities ahead to inspire the next generation of budding artists.
Local artist Glen Hayward says: “There is an extraordinary art community that is connected to Whanganui.”
“This will create a space and platform that continues the professional development of the resident artists and encourage quality projects from outside the region to it.“
Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Regional Economic Development, Fletcher Tabuteau revealed the good news, proclaiming there was strong evidence the project would revitalise a key regional tourism asset and drive growth in Whanganui’s creative industries, leading to job creation and stimulating Māori enterprise.
Cake maker Stacey Williams, current director Greg Anderson, previous professional directors Gordon Brown and Bill Milbank and Faye Barham-Davis.
Over 8,300 works of art, a century’s worth of heritage, a collection spanning 400 years and now, $12 million in government funding. These are all things that can be hard for any art institution to achieve, let alone one an hour away from the most recognised cultural metropolises.
But the Sarjeant Gallery Te Whare o Rehua has never been limited by its regional location, rather motivated by it. This is essentially its charter, as set down by proud local and original benefactor Henry Sarjeant back in 1912 who dreamed of the Gallery being “a means of inspiration for ourselves and those who come after us.”
Glen Hayward has become one of the region’s most well-known sculptors and is one among many people who are thrilled with the announcement.
“The funding reinforces my investment of time and energy in a province,” Glen states. “I recall 20 years ago when my friends and I would travel from Auckland to exhibitions that were being held in places like the Govett-Brewster (New Plymouth art gallery) because of the quality of the programming and the investment by the individuals at the institutions in the value of what is essentially a cultural wager.”
'As If' 2018 by Glen Hayward - supplied.
“The extension is a vital component of the redevelopment and this funding helps get that over the line,” Glen enthuses. “I have only been here five years and I've watched the team from the Sarjeant do their best with the temporary smaller space they've got, but they must be chomping at the bit.”
Director of the Sarjeant Gallery Greg Anderson agrees. “The future is now wide open. With the strength of a hundred years of collecting and exhibiting now behind the Sarjeant, we can use that as a basis from which to launch new ideas and partnerships; further enhanced community engagement and stronger iwi connections and collaborations.”
Though limited while they have been raising the funds needed through a myriad of avenues, the Sarjeant team haven’t been sitting on their hands. Working out of a temporary space, the Sarjeant on the Quay has been keeping the home fires burning as an outlet for artists and art-lovers alike.
Glen Hayward is part of the line-up of talent featured in the Sarjeant’s centenary exhibition Turn of a Century that also includes work by Peter Trevelyan, Annie Mackenzie, Andrew Ross, Regan Gentry, Roberta Thornley, Neil Pardington, Adrienne Martyn and the Crystal Chain Gang, curated by Greg Donson.
Curator and Public Programmes Manager opening the new exhibition “Turn of a Century”.
Glen explains “the collection that the gallery has and the way that the staff account for the relevance of the collection, putting it in dialogue with contemporary creative endeavours is delicious.”
Bringing this impressive building, one of New Zealand’s oldest and grandest art galleries, up to modern standards has proven to be a large and expensive undertaking.
As well as upgrading the storage conditions to properly preserve and retain the collection and earthquake-strengthening the original building, key to the redevelopment is a new wing extension to be named Pataka o Sir Archie John Te Atawhai Taiaroa. This honours Sir Archie Taiaroa, a beloved and admired kaumātua and an inspirational leader of the Whanganui people. The Sarjeant Gallery’s significance is just as much historical as it is cultural.
Opened on 6 September 1919 by then-Prime Minister William Massey, its place as a cornerstone of the River City’s identity is underlined by its status as one of the nation’s most important heritage buildings. It sits in the top tier of building under the New Zealand Historic Places Trust Act.
In an age where the quantitative value of art is challenged in some quarters of society, this funding recognises the potential economic, social, educational and cultural benefits that the redeveloped Sarjeant Gallery will be able to provide to the region.
L-R: Whanganui kaumatua John Maihi, Sarjeant Director Greg Anderson, Redevelopment Director Gaye Batty, Parliamentary Under-Secretary Fletcher Tabuteau, Mayor Hamish McDouall - photo supplied.