Media Release: March, 2005. 

Next March, City Gallery Wellington offers New Zealanders the rare opportunity to see a rich and comprehensive collection of work by one of the world’s truly great artists.

Since the 1960s, when she burst onto the international art scene with her visually-charged black and white paintings, Bridget Riley has consistently produced work which has entranced viewers and kept her at the forefront of contemporary painting.

City Gallery Wellington director Paula Savage says: “Elizabeth Ann McGregor, Director of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, and myself have worked closely over the past two years with the British Council, London, to bring an exhibition of Bridget Riley’s work to the Southern Hemisphere. We are honoured that Sydney and Wellington are the sole venues in Australia and New Zealand for this Bridget Riley retrospective.”

Riley has the distinction of being a senior contemporary artist whose painting continues to develop in new directions, and whose work is still keenly tracked by younger artists. In 2003 Riley was the subject of a major retrospective at the Tate Britain, London. Critics described the exhibition as “electrifying” and as “One of the most coherent, individual and powerful bodies of work in contemporary art.”

Working with a simple vocabulary of colours and abstract shapes, often on a massive scale (the largest work in Bridget Riley: Paintings 1961-2004 is more than 5 metres long), Riley produces paintings that shimmer and dance, generating sensations of light, movement and space, and creating emotional and physical experiences for viewers. As Riley has written: ‘The eye … should feel caressed and soothed, experience frictions and ruptures, glide and drift.’

Bridget Riley: Paintings 1961-2004 features 35 paintings and 70 works on paper, drawn from across the four decades of her career. The exhibition reveals Riley’s ongoing investigation of the possibilities of colour and form, from the blazing black and white paintings of the 1960s to the softer and more lyrical colour works of recent years.

City Gallery Wellington is also pleased to announce Ernst & Young’s involvement as principal sponsor of Bridget Riley: Paintings 1961-2004.  Ernst & Young CEO John Judge says: “Ernst & Young are delighted to join once again with City Gallery Wellington to make the best of international contemporary art available to New Zealand audiences.”

Media Release: February, 2005. 

Beverly Rhodes’ solo exhibition project at the Michael Hirschfeld Gallery draws on the body of work she developed for her recently-completed Master of Fine Arts degree at RMIT, Melbourne.

In ‘Home is where we start from’ Rhodes explores ideas about childhood, motherhood and the process of growing up and discovering oneself as an individual. Rhodes’ work is nostalgic without being sentimental, and has a strong aesthetic, with bold use of colour (particularly deep reds and clean whites) and texture, especially in her use of lacquer-like enamel paint and woollen fabrics.

‘Home is where we start from’ is made up of three components that when brought together reveal the connections between the states of childhood and motherhood as experienced over a lifetime by one person.

For one work, Rhodes has taken the kitchen shelving units she grew up with, and mixed them with other familiar objects, including chairs, drawers and a school desk, all of which she has swaddled and stitched into scarlet woollen fabric. Rhodes will panel the walls of the smaller exhibition space in the Michael Hirschfeld Gallery with lengths of scarlet-painted plywood and then arrange the fabric-wrapped objects within the space, creating an immersive environment full of evocative colours and textures.

In another work, a wall hanging is made up of fabric strips embroidered with the phrases ‘blood sweat tears’ and ‘you are my sunshine’. In a third installation, piles of freshly-laundered sheets are neatly lined up along the gallery wall. A video projection plays over the sheets, showing Rhodes and her daughter folding linen, turning this household chore into a graceful, choreographed performance.

Through the three installations, Rhodes transforms the Gallery into a meditative space for visitors to ponder and enjoy.

Beverly Rhodes is of Kai Tahu and Scottish descent and was born in Methven, Canterbury, in 1941. She has exhibited throughout New Zealand since the early 1990s and her work has been recently seen in the exhibitions BlanketStitch at Objectspace, Auckland, and The New Alchemists at the Dowse Art Museum, Lower Hutt.

Beverly Rhodes: Home is where we start from 

Michael Hirschfeld Gallery at City Gallery Wellington 

25 February – 3 April 2005

Free entry, open every day 10am to 5pm.

Artist and curator’s floortalk – Thursday 3 March 2005, 5.30pm. All welcome


Courtney Johnston, Publicist, City Gallery Wellington

T: 04 801 3959 E: courtney.johnston@wcc.govt.nz

Designworks Enterprise IG are proud sponsors of the Michael Hirschfeld Gallery. Thanks also to Colourcraft; and Publication & Design, Wellington City Council. City Gallery Wellington is managed by the Wellington Museums Trust with major funding from the Wellington City Council. 

Media Release: January, 2005. 

Wellington artist Gabby O’Connor’s collaborative exhibition at the Michael Hirschfeld Gallery reflects the adventures of a craftcamper who has toured foreign lands. This exciting and playful new project opens on 22 January.

O’Connor’s work will be familiar to many Wellingtonians: she is one of the co-founders of the collective CRAFTCAMP, whose ‘crafty’ and ‘cunning’ knickers, badges and other items are regular sights at the Dowse Art Museum shop and design store Artikel.

O’Connor came up with the concept of Postmark before embarking overseas in June 2004. She sees the exhibition both as a way of continuing to produce artworks while travelling, and of staying in touch with friends and fellow-artists in Wellington.

While travelling throughout Europe and the United Kingdom, O’Connor treated hostels, trains and transit lounges as her art studios, making works that responded to new places, sights and experiences. Once every two weeks, O’Connor would package up a work and post it back to one of her collaborators in Wellington: Katharine Allard, Vanessa Crowe, Diana Goodwin, Chelsea Gough, Georgiana Morison, Lisa Munnelly, Genevieve Packer, Sarah Jane Parton, Pippa Sanderson, Sandra Schmidt and Leanne Williams. Each artist was asked to produce a work for the exhibition that takes the work sent to them by O’Connor as a starting point, either incorporating it into a new work, or using it as inspiration.

For example, O’Connor sent Chelsea Gough “how big is the sky?”, a long piece of pink ribbon on which she hand-embroidered a question sent by a reader to the ‘Guardian’ newspaper, and the answer that the paper provided. Gough in turn has created a landscape diorama work whose kiddy-craft surface belies the serious questions it raises about our use of natural resources. O’Connor’s ribbon floats above the landscape on a sheet of Perspex.

Other works sent back by O’Connor included “doily forest” – 60 trees cut out from paper doilies with a scalpel – and “craft terrorist”, images and lettering that were embroidered and beaded onto denim, inspired by O’Connor’s attempts to take contraband items which are also the tools of her craft, such as knitting needles, onto airplanes. (O’Connor slipped her knitting needles onto the plane by bending them into bangles).

On Thursday 10 February at 5.30pm, O’Connor and many of the artists featured in ‘Postmark’ will give a free talk in the exhibition space, describing the exhibition project and the way in which works were conceived and constructed.

Postmark: an artist’s project by Gabby O’Connor

Michael Hirschfeld Gallery at City Gallery Wellington

22 January – 20 February 2005

Free entry, open every day 10am to 5pm.

Artists’ floortalk – 10 February 2005, 5.30pm. All welcome


Courtney Johnston, Publicist, City Gallery Wellington

T: 04 801 3959 E: courtney.johnston@wcc.govt.nz

Designworks Enterprise IG are proud sponsors of the Michael Hirschfeld Gallery. Thanks also to Colourcraft; and Publication & Design, Wellington City Council. City Gallery Wellington is managed by the Wellington Museums Trust with major funding from the Wellington City Council. 

Media Release: December, 2004. 

beauty, even is a tribute to the life and work of Joanna Margaret Paul. It commemorates this painter, film-maker and poet whose art found beauty in the ordinary details of life.

Paul was one of New Zealand’s most prolific and intriguing artists. She worked across an array of media, including drawing, painting, poetry, film-making and photography. Paul’s creative practice was intricately entwined with her life, and responded strongly to her immediate surroundings.

Although Paul was an extremely dedicated and focused artist, and her work is held by all major public New Zealand art collections, she was not a careerist, and avoided the limelight. She once described painting as: ‘not a job, not even a vocation. It is part of life, subject to the strains, and joys, of domestic life’.

beauty, even gives an insight into Paul’s broad practice. Alongside paintings and drawings, the exhibition includes a compilation of the experimental films which Paul made during the 1970s and early 1980s. It also includes examples of her sketchbooks, drawings and published writing.

Born in Hamilton in 1945, Paul was the eldest child of booksellers and publishers Blackwood and Janet Paul. Paul died unexpectedly in Rotorua last year, aged 57.

Exhibition developed by City Gallery Wellington & the Sarjeant Gallery Te Whare O Rehua Whanganui

For more information, images or interview opportunities, please contact:

Courtney Johnston 

Publicist, City Gallery Wellington 

T: 04 801 3959 


City Gallery Wellington gratefully acknowledges the assistance of the New Zealand Film Archive.

City Gallery Wellington is managed by the Wellington Museums Trust with major funding from the Wellington City Council.

Media Release: December, 2004. 

Max Gimblett is one of New Zealand’s most internationally prominent and successful artists. Born in Auckland in 1935, Gimblett has lived in New York since 1972. Despite living offshore, Gimblett has maintained strong connections with New Zealand, returning often to visit and paint, and regularly showing in New Zealand galleries.

The Brush of All Things is the first survey show of Gimblett’s work to tour New Zealand. The exhibition is curated by respected art historian and curator Wystan Curnow.

Gimblett’s work is rich and inventive, drawing on a wide range of sources. Curnow says: “Max is emotional – the work embodies a mighty spectrum of feeling and he doesn’t shy from big themes. Violence, sacrifice and death; fear and awe; beauty, pleasure, peace and joy – all play a role.”

The Brush of All Things presents a selection of Gimblett’s work, chosen to demonstrate the breadth of his practice. From elegant canvases that reveal Gimblett’s devotion to the beautiful, to his humorous self portraits, the exhibition gives audiences an insight into this important artist’s work.

The exhibition also features a 30 minute film that records one of Gimblett’s intense painting sessions, vividly catching the very physical nature of his painting.

Media Release: December, 2004. 

This summer, City Gallery Wellington is proud to present Melvin Day – Continuum, a celebration of the work of one of Wellington’s most respected painters.

Melvin (Pat) Day started his artistic training in 1934, when as a 11 year-old school boy he began attending Saturday morning classes held at Elam School of Fine Arts in Auckland.

Seven decades later – after serving in the RNZAF during World War II, studying and teaching overseas, serving as Director of the National Art Gallery (now Te Papa) and as Government Art Historian – Day continues to paint avidly. In 2003 he was created a CNZM in recognition of his outstanding contribution and services to New Zealand art.

City Gallery Wellington curator Gregory O’Brien says “Working across the genres of still-life, landscape and abstraction, Day is at once a radical and a traditionalist – a painter of strikingly modern works which incorporate forms and ideas derived from his study of the Renaissance. Melvin Day – Continuum highlights both Day’s intellectual concerns and the sheer physicality of his technique. The exhibition provides a long-awaited opportunity to experience the breadth and richness of Day’s practice.”

Melvin Day – Continuum draws upon the rich holdings of Day’s work in private and public collections in order to demonstrate the significant contribution this artist has made to New Zealand painting, and to the Wellington region in particular.

Media Release: November, 2004.

This summer, the Michael Hirschfeld Gallery samples the Wellington video art scene. That Last Moment: Recent Wellington Video Art presents work by Kaleb Bennett, VJ Rex, Damon Meade, Johanna Sanders and Bek Coogan, that draws inspiration and influence from sources as diverse as Sergio Leone’s Westerns, sci-fi, 80s music videos and Playstation animation.

In his work That Last Moment, Kaleb Bennett uses footage from the Sergio Leone film Once upon a time in the West’ (1968). Bleached, cropped and set to a throbbing soundtrack, encased in a sculptural construction,That Last Moment  “develops a sense of tension and atmosphere based on the final face-off in the film”, says Michael Hirschfeld Gallery curator Sarah Farrar.

VJ Rex’s work also references the Western genre, splicing out-takes from old movies and television programmes with material downloaded from the internet. Mixing cowboys with sci-fi, VJ Rex’s work references those two uncharted territories: Wild West and Outer Space.

Damon Meade has just completed his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree at the School of Fine Arts, Massey University Wellington. His work Habitation Probe calls to mind the swooping perspectives of Playstation games, as the viewer is taken on a wild ride through a computer-generated landscape.

Johanna Sanders’s and Bek Coogan’s collaborative work Shera plays with the visual symbols we associate with 80s music videos: glam costumes, strobe lights, leopard-skin, heavy make-up and pounding keyboards. But what is the screaming woman with the vampire fangs really trying to tell us?

Media Release: October, 2004. 

This week Richard Reddaway is hard at work transforming the spaces of the Michael Hirschfeld Gallery with an infestation of box-like constructions, creating an environment for Gallery visitors to explore and contemplate. His exhibition, titled The Wieskirche, opens on Friday 22 October.

The Wieskirche is a significant solo outing for Reddaway, who is an established Wellington artist. By mounting boxes covered in photographs of creeping ivy on the gallery’s walls, floor and ceiling, Reddaway introduces ideas about decoration, growth, colonisation and replication into the space. The Wieskirche project has developed from a similar project Reddaway undertook as artist in residence at the SLAK Studio, Arnhem, The Netherlands, in 2001-02.

City Gallery Wellington Director Paula Savage says: "We are delighted to mark the 5th anniversary of the Michael Hirschfeld Gallery with Richard Reddaway’s solo installation project. Over the past five years, the Michael Hirschfeld Gallery has developed a proud history of showing the work of Wellington-based artists and designers. The Michael Hirschfeld Gallery plays an important role in our city, providing both a space to showcase the work of emerging artists, and an opportunity for established artists to experiment and develop new work."

Born in Lower Hutt in 1962, Richard Reddaway studied at the School of Fine Arts, University of Canterbury, gaining a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 1985. He currently works as a lecturer in the Department of Art and Design Studies at Massey University Wellington.

Richard Reddaway will talk about his project in the Michael Hirschfeld Gallery on Wednesday 10 November at 5:30pm. Free Entry, All Welcome.

Media Release: September, 2004. 

Milky Way Bar’ is the third new Wellington artist show at City Gallery Wellington’s Michael Hirschfeld Gallery. Titled after Bill Manhire’s 1991 poem ‘Milky Way Bar’, the exhibition brings together eight fresh and dynamic young artists who “live at the edge of the universe/like everybody else.”

Featuring work by Marina Cains, Ryan Chadfield, Daniel du Bern, Regan Gentry, Kim Paton, Gregory Sharp, Marnie Slater and Louise Tulett, Milky Way Bar highlights the present moment: it’s about what these artists are making, thinking and communicating now.

Recently, the Wellington arts scene has entered a boom phase, with new exhibition spaces opening up, new arts projects being initiated, and new artists constantly emerging, fuelled in part by the establishment of the School of Fine Arts at Massey University’s Wellington campus. Milky Way Bar gives audiences an insight into how young artists are making their way in this rapidly expanding world.

Marnie Slater’s work evokes the tension felt by young artists when they are torn between wanting to be discovered and wanting to hide in the shadows. Slater has created a mini mountain with a step ladder and a white satin flag with the word ‘NOW’ embroidered on it. Will you seize the day by climbing up and snatching the flag, Slater asks, or will you be stuck at the bottom, doubting your ability to face up to the challenge?

Regan Gentry also explores the idea of being a new artist trying to break into the art world. In 2003 Gentry began his ‘Foot in the Door’ project by sending hundreds of letters to public and commercial art galleries and art-related institutions asking if he could install a one foot ruler or piece of measuring tape in their entrance way. Enterprising and audacious, the project literally enables Gentry to get a foot in the door at a range of institutions. At the Milky Way Bar’ opening, Gentry will insert a foot of measuring tape into the Michael Hirschfeld Gallery’s roller door, marking his entry into another gallery space, another scalp in his exhibiting history.

Martian Invaders in the Twilight Arcade

Thursday 30 September 2004 at 5.30pm

Join the artists in Milky Way Bar’ and Michael Hirschfeld Gallery curator Sarah Farrar for an informal floortalk in the gallery. Free entry, all welcome.

DesignWorks EIG are proud sponsors of the Michael Hirschfeld Gallery. Thanks also Colourcraft and Publication & Design, Wellington City Council. City Gallery Wellington is managed by the Wellington Museums Trust with major funding from the Wellington City Council.

Media Release: September, 2004. 

Revered in his homeland, Austrian architect Ernst Plischke (a contemporary of Walter Gropius, Mies van der Rohe and Le Corbusier) was a key figure in the introduction of modernism into New Zealand architecture and design. Plischke’s place in both New Zealand and European architecture is the subject of a new exhibition opening at City Gallery Wellington on 5 September 2004.

Born in Vienna in 1903, Plischke was the son of an architect, and worked in the family joinery business every summer. He trained in architecture at the Akademie der Bildenden Kunste (Academy of Fine Arts), Vienna, graduating in 1926. By the early 1930s Plischke had achieved great critical success in Vienna and beyond.

In 1939 however, Plischke and his Jewish wife Anna and her two children were forced to emigrate to escape the Nazi regime. Plischke’s International Modernist style and involvement with a worker housing project in Vienna were also viewed with suspicion by the German Reich.

Plischke and his family, like many other refugees from Nazi Germany, settled in Wellington, where he initially found work as a draughtsman with the newly formed Department of Housing Construction.

Plischke left the Department in 1948, and went on to design over 40 private houses in his adopted homeland. He also designed public housing, worked on community planning, and become a prominent voice within New Zealand culture through his writings and lectures. In 1947 Plischke became a New Zealand citizen. He continued to work here until 1963, when he returned to Vienna to become chair of architecture at the Academy of Fine Arts. Plischke died in Vienna in 1992.

City Gallery Wellington director Paula Savage says “Plischke is a larger-than-life figure in the history of New Zealand architecture. Not only did he design quintessential modernist buildings such as the Sutch House, he was involved in many areas of cultural life in Wellington.”

A radical international figure like Plischke was never going to fit easily into conservative war-time New Zealand society. Upon arrival in Wellington, he and Anna were given the nationality “German” and had to comply with the Aliens Emergency Regulations. The Plischke family was viewed with some suspicion – on one occasion, after lengths of steel tubes were observed being delivered to the Plischke’s home, Plischke had to provide photographs of his studio in Vienna to explain to police how he used steel tubing in his furniture. He was also viewed with some caution by the people he worked with. One former colleague at the Housing Department recalled that Plischke was thought by some to be a Bolshevik, on the basis of his “strange ideas”.

City Gallery Wellington has collaborated with two Viennese institutions, the Academy of Fine Arts and the Imperial Furniture Collection, to bring this exhibition to New Zealand. In 2003 the Academy of Fine Arts, Vienna, celebrated the centenary of Plischke’s birth with the exhibition ‘Ernst Plischke: Modern Architecture for the New World’. Paula Savage says “Exquisite watercolours and architectural drawings which were exhibited in Vienna last year are being brought out to New Zealand for this landmark exhibition. This will be an exciting experience not only for people interested in architecture but for anyone interested in modernism, design and the cultural history of Wellington.”

City Gallery Wellington’s exhibition ‘Ernst Plischke’ will bring attention to Plischke’s architectural legacy in Wellington, where the best examples of his mature work exist. Plischke’s influence on Wellington’s inner-city will be traced through displays devoted to the Dixon Street Flats and Massey House on Lambton Quay, buildings which were seen to herald the arrival of modernism in New Zealand.

Outstanding examples of Plischke’s domestic architecture in Wellington include the Sutch House in Brooklyn. This building, the largest and most innovative of Plischke’s New Zealand houses, is regarded as one of the best early examples of International Modernism in this country. The Sutch House was recently restored by Wellington architect Alistair Luke, and received the New Zealand Institute of Architects Resene Award for Enduring Architecture earlier this year. A feature of ‘Ernst Plischke’ will be a scale model of the Sutch House and a collection of archival material that tells the story of its construction.

‘Ernst Plischke’ includes over 100 original plans and drawings, vintage and contemporary photographs of Plischke buildings, furniture, architectural models, and books, correspondence and ephemera related to Plischke’s time in New Zealand. Material for the exhibition has been drawn from the archives and collections of the Academy of Fine Arts, Vienna, and from New Zealand collections.

A major Ernst Plischke monograph from Prestel Press is being translated in English in association with the Academy of Fine Arts, Vienna, and the Imperial Furniture Collection, Vienna, and will accompany the City Gallery Wellington exhibition.

A dynamic programme of lectures and floortalks will open out aspects of Plischke’s career. A keynote lecture series is scheduled, featuring talks by local and international architects and architectural historians. A tour of Plischke’s significant buildings in the Wellington region will be a special feature of the public events.

‘Ernst Plischke’ is presented by City Gallery Wellington and the New Zealand Institute of Architects in association with the Akademie der Bildenden Kunste (Academy of Fine Arts), Vienna, and the Kaiserliches Hofmobiliendepot (Imperial Furniture Collection), Vienna.

Proudly supported by Housing New Zealand Corporation

‘Ernst Plischke’ will be shown alongside the Dunedin Public Art Gallery touring exhibition ‘Ronnie van Hout: I’ve Abandoned Me’.

For more information, images and interview opportunities please contact:

Courtney Johnston, City Gallery Wellington Publicist

T: 04 801 3959 E: Courtney.johnston@wcc.govt.nz