I’m a long time fan of the Auckland Art Gallery – in my student days I used to wander in there for hours. Then and now it was the perfect mix of inspiration & solitude and there is just something about it that takes my breath away. Back then the huge drawcard was that it was also free but nowadays we can shell out for the exhibitions and go a little further in our exploration.
Auckland Art Gallery is just an easy 5 minute walk from where we were staying at the Pullman Auckland and it was the perfect destination for a Saturday afternoon visit. We were keen to check out Lee Mingwei and His Relations: The Art of Participation & The Māori Portraits: Gottfried Lindauer’s New Zealand – both of which were brilliant.
Lee Mingwei and His Relations: The Art of Participation was definitely a more challenging installation for me. It required, as the title implies, active participation and even just walking through it required you to think about each piece. Our favourite was The Mending Project. A series of colourful cottons on the wall and a tailor sitting at a desk. Visitors can leave a broken or damaged item to be mended and then pick it up after the exhibition closes. Pieces of cotton come straight off the wall and into the mending so it is literally a living exhibit and works on the premise of altering the state of something and making it better despite the scars (well that’s what I got out of it in any case).
The Māori Portraits: Gottfried Lindauer’s New Zealand were impressive if for nothing else than their sheer scale. To have painted that many portraits in a lifetime is impressive. As a photographer I particularly loved how he used early photos to paint from with an interactive display showing how the photos morphed into each portrait.
What I also love about the Auckland Art Gallery is the sense of the unexpected. While we were there in the Grand Designs exhibit an Opera Singer walked in and started singing the most hauntingly beautiful song. In an impossibly grand room, surrounded by glorious art the room paused. Mesmerised. At the end of the song she walked gracefully off and the room resumed it’s bustle. Things like that just seem to happen there.
And it didn’t stop there – when we left we walked out to a group of ballroom dancers dancing in the outdoor theatre. Where else does that just happen.
Above all else it’s the grandeur and the scale of the Auckland Art Gallery that draws me in. It’s impossible not to get lost in it’s charms.