The Wallace Collection, Auckland’s hidden gallery

Superman Peter Gibson Smith

My trip to New Zealand wasn’t all about cafes*, I also went to the Wallace Collection. The Wallace collection is a private collection by Sir James Wallace that has been put on display in the beautiful surroundings of the Pah Homestead. Wallace has so far managed to accumulate over 5000 works of art , so it is an incredible gift that they are now available for the public to view. Europe and America might be more familiar with this type of large scale public donation, but for Kiwi Land it is sadly quite rare.

Now here is where the runawaykiwi awkwardness shines through. When I rocked up to the Wallace Collection the car park seemed slightly empty. And then when I walked through the doors I was greeted with the bird like cacophony of 30 high society ladies drinking champagne. Nothing will stop me when there is the smell of art in the air, so I used my most advanced secret spy manoeuvres to get through the group and start my gallery haunting.

So turns out that the gallery is closed on Mondays and this group of chattering grandmothers had actually hired it out for a private function. Oops.

But when in Rome. I hussled through, one room ahead of them at all times and managed to get my art fill before running the hell out of there before I got told off or my cheeked pinched. My favourite couple of pieces this visit (the collection is rotated regularly so you never see the same thing twice) were the massive Superman head at the top of the staircase and the stunning charcoal drawings.

Ringmaster by Lorene Taurerewa

Superman by Peter Gibson Smith looked just like a fallen Greek statue that had somehow found its way to Auckland. Even if it was made out of the slightly less expensive version of marble (paper and wax), it had serious impact and just had a really pleasing and touchable form to it (don’t worry, I may be a rule breaker but I don’t touch art!). The charcoal drawings were a complete surprise, I haven’t actually seen any in that material that were not only appealing but also looked finished. But these large scale creepy circus drawings by Lorene Taurerewa were frighteningly perfect and intriguing… I am totally open to one as a Christmas present from any of my millionaire suitors.

If you are in the neighborhood I would recommend swinging by the Wallace Collection. When it is not inhabited by champagne swigging grannies it is a really nonthreatening way to view contemporary art, hell you can just go for the architecture and surrounding park if you really want to. I am endlessly grateful that this gallery is now part of the Auckland art scene, thanks Mr Wallace.

*complete lie! It was totally all about cafes and will be back to cafe adventures tomorrow!