Art gallery loses key collection
Wairarapa’s largest art gallery has been dealt a blow, with a key collection leaving for Auckland.
The Rutherford Collection which includes works by Rita Angus, Colin McCahon and Dick Frizzell has been housed by Aratoi, in Masterton, since 2005, but will soon be housed under the care of its owners, The James Wallace Arts Trust.
Chairwoman of the Aratoi Regional Trust, Barbara Roydhouse, said the loss of the collection would be keenly felt.
‘‘It’s very disappointing,’’ she said.
‘‘It’s sad that we’re losing it, it was a lovely thing to have.’’
The collection had an estimated worth of $5 million in 2005.
Though there were around 145 works in the Rutherford Collection, the number at Aratoi had dwindled over the years as pieces had been lent out. There are currently only 52 Rutherford works at the gallery.
Initial attempts to secure the collection for Aratoi were begun in 2002 by former Aratoi director Tracy Puklowski and Wairarapa Cultural Trust chairman Gavin McLachlan.
Several people associated with the gallery said the collection had reduced to the point where there were few suitable pieces left for display. It’s understood that a loan request in July for a further 18 pieces of art led Aratoi to finally relinquish its housing of the remainder of the collection.
James Wallace Arts Trust had effectively been in control of the collection for the past four years, its operations manager Matthew Wood said.
Wood said the trust was surprised by Aratoi’s decision. ‘‘We didn’t expect that at all.’’ Pieces were often loaned out to schools, hospitals and other public institutions, Wood said.
He couldn’t recall many pieces of art being loaned out and not returning to Aratoi.
‘‘As far as I know there wasn’t a substantial number of pieces going up [to Auckland] and not coming back.’’
Aratoi director Susanna Shadbolt said the collection’s loss opened up space for other, often local, exhibitions and artworks.
‘‘It’s a little bit sad, but it’s a great opportunity for us,’’ she said.
‘‘We have good relationships with other museums, we can borrow things from them. [The Rutherford] has enhanced our collection, but we can survive without it.’’
Aratoi director Susanna Shadbolt stands in front of several pieces of art from the Rutherford Collection. Wairarapa News