The Christchurch Central Art Gallery celebrates its fifth anniversary with a group exhibition

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Kirstin Carlin's oil painting

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Kirstin Carlin’s oil painting “Garden #1” will be featured in the Central Art Gallery exhibition.

The Central Art Gallery in Christchurch celebrates its fifth anniversary in the city center with a group exhibition of artists who have played a role in its history.

Co-central director Jonathan Smart said the show, titled 5 years celebration and opening Saturday, would feature works by various artists, including Bing Dawe, Neil Dawson, Hannah Kidd, Lonnie Hutchinson, Dick Frizzell and Reuben Paterson.

He said the gallery was founded as a way to bring art to the city center and had weathered pandemic storms to bring new and established artists to their Christchurch Arts Center venue for five years.

“It was a vision of a gallery that offers contemporary art in the center of the city close to the museum and the tourist area and that was supported by what we did,” he said. .

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Central <a class=Art Gallery directors Richard Laing and Jonathan Smart in the Arts Center exhibition space.” style=”width:100%;display:inline-block”/>

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Central Art Gallery directors Richard Laing and Jonathan Smart in the Arts Center exhibition space.

“Surviving for five years with this mix of senior and young artists is a tricky dance, and we’ve done it pretty well.”

Smart said it had been difficult to keep the gallery alive over the past half-decade.

“It’s been a tough time in all sorts of interesting ways, but there’s also been a lot of beautiful things about it.”

He said highlights included a sold-out exhibition of works by sculptor Bing Dawe last year and a tribute exhibition to late Christchurch artist Llew Summers.

Reuben Paterson's serigraphs 'And the truth is.  .  .', right, and 'The Truth According to Amarylli's', feature on the show.

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Reuben Paterson’s serigraphs ‘And the truth is. . .’, right, and ‘The Truth According to Amarylli’s’, feature on the show.

Smart said it had been “wonderful to be part of the Arts Center revitalization.”

The gallery will curate works of art for display in the public areas of a new hotel that will open at the end of the month in a restored building on the southern outskirts of the Center for the Arts.

The gallery has made another distinct contribution to the Center for the Arts. When the gallery opened in March 2017, Smart wanted to bring back a Neil Dawson sculpture that had hung in the North Quadrangle of the Arts Center from 1991 until it was damaged in the Canterbury earthquakes in 2011.

Simon Edwards' artwork 'Kekerengu Dreamtime #7' is part of the fifth anniversary show.

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Simon Edwards’ artwork ‘Kekerengu Dreamtime #7’ is part of the fifth anniversary show.

The 1981 sculpture, called Echodid not return for Neil Dawson’s 2017 solo exhibition that year as planned, but eventually returned to the Arts Center for good in December.

“I’m thrilled he’s here,” Smart said.

“I’m not sure we had much to do with it, except to say that Neil has done some wonderful solo exhibitions for us…and his re-engagement with the Center for the Arts personally and professionally has given him pause.

“I think we got the Arts Center hierarchy thinking as well.”

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