Te Puni painting opens art display
A new urban art gallery is bringing 16 seconds of culture to Lambton Quay in Wellington.
Described as the world’s first permanent outdoor electronic art gallery, the Hidden Treasures exhibition sees artworks screen for 16 second bursts, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Andrew Hagen, creative director of the Urban Art Foundation, said the idea came to him while he was sitting in traffic one day and waiting for the lights to change.
New Zealand ratepayers own about half a billion dollars worth of art, but only a token amount is on public display.
‘‘What most people don’t realise is that due to the lack of gallery space, only about 7 per cent of the art owned by New Zealand taxpayers and ratepayers is on display,’’ Hagen said.
‘‘The rest remains in storage, mostly out of reach of the public.’’
Artwork prints sourced from the Wellington City Council and Te Papa archives will be permanently displayed on three specially built electronic screens on Lambton Quay, at the corners of Johnston, Brandon and Panama streets.
The artwork will be interspersed with ads from Adshel, which provides the display time free of charge to the foundation.
The Charles Barraud portrait of Te Ati Awa chief Honiana Te Puni on the edge of Wellington Harbour, painted in 1854, was unveiled last week as the first piece in the gallery.
The oil on canvas portrait, bought by Wellington City Council in 1939, is valued for insurance purposes at $650,000.
The plan is to add a new piece of art every two weeks and expand the project to other cities.
The descendents of both Barraud and Te Puni attended the opening of the exhibition on Thursday.
‘‘Charles Barraud’s portrait of Te Puni is a taonga that deserves to have visibility,’’ Linda Te Puni said.
‘‘I am proud to see my great-greatgreat-grandfather in a prominent position; his role in Wellington’s history needs modern acknowledgement and recognition, after many years of marginalisation.
‘‘It was a rather surreal experience to meet this evening with three of Barraud’s great-great-greatgrandsons, and to reflect on what Te Puni and Barraud might have thought of each other all those years ago.
Ben Barraud, head of design at Te Papa, and a descendent of the artist, said Barraud was a keen advocate of New Zealand art and helped found early national art institutions.
‘‘He wanted there to be a national collection and he wanted it to be displayed. I think he would be very, very happy to see it out on display.’’
‘‘Charles Barraud's portrait of Te Puni is a taonga that deserves to have visibility.’’