Art gallery loses key col­lec­tion

Wairarapa News - - FRONT PAGE - JACK BAR­LOW

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.’’

SUPPLIED

Ara­toi di­rec­tor Su­sanna Shad­bolt stands in front of sev­eral pieces of art from the Ruther­ford Col­lec­tion. Wairarapa News

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