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.’’

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