We asked our new Chief Curator, Robert Leonard, about his exhibition addressing pioneer Wellington art dealer Peter McLeavey.
Why did you curate McLeavey Sat Here?
I had just arrived in Wellington. Everyone was reading Jill Trevelyan's new biography of pioneer Wellington art dealer Peter McLeavey. I thought, let’s do a show piggybacking on that interest, bringing together works addressing him. There have been quite a few. I wanted to explore McLeavey's legendary place in New Zealand art history and how artists have participated in (and responded to) the making of his myth. The show features works by Billy Apple, Peter Black, L. Budd, Gavin Chilcott, Julian Dashper, Michael Illingworth, Colin McCahon, and John Reynolds.
Why is the exhibition important to Wellington and to City Gallery?
McLeavey is a local hero, a Wellington phenomenon. I thought it would be good for the Gallery to acknowledge him at this time, given the current excitement around the book. Making the show was also a way for me, personally, to reconnect with the city and its art history.
Image: McLeavey Sat Here: A Conversation, 8 April 2014