September 1, 2014

We Will Work With You Wellington Media Collective 1978–1998

ST PAUL St Gallery at AUT University
Philip Kelly and David Kent, We Will Work With You:
Wellington Media Collective book cover, 2013. From
an original one-colour off-set print, 420 x 297 mm.
Courtesy of WMC.

An exhibition initiated by Adam Art Gallery Te Pataka Toi in collaboration with the Wellington Media Collective.

Established in 1978, the Wellington Media Collective (WMC) came together under the banner “we will work with you—not for you.” The co-operative of graphic designers, printers, photographers and their friends saw sharing their skills in graphic design and communication as a way to give political voice to community groups and individuals across a spectrum of cultural issues and campaigns for social justice. Over two decades they worked with clients ranging from trade unions to arts and activist organisations, with involvement in all the major political movements of the era, including the fight for a nuclear free New Zealand, for tino rangatiratanga (Māori sovereignty), women’s rights, employment issues, and an end to apartheid in South Africa.

This exhibition considers the breadth WMC’s archive—original ephemera spanning posters, print publications, magazines and flyers, as well as oral histories—as offering a unique history of public culture in Wellington and New Zealand. The collected work articulates the intersection of highly politicised design with social activism and a wider cultural history of art and performance. This is set against a background of shifting economic conditions, and the evolution of print technologies, networks of distribution and communication.

ST PAUL St Gallery hosts the second public outing of this exhibition. Developed by the Adam Art Gallery, it was originally shown in Wellington in 2012. This iteration has been approached as an opportunity not only to share the material with a wider audience, but as a platform for a series of public programmes that connect the work of the Collective with the university Gallery’s role as “critic and conscience of society,” with a particular focus on the lead up to the national election day on 20 September.

Events are as follows; all free and all welcome:

WMC t-shirt printing workshop
13 September, noon–4pm
Bring and print your own shirt or fabric. Come by the Gallery on Saturday afternoon to screen-print alongside members of the Wellington Media Collective.

RockEnrol: We Will Work With You
18 September, 6–9pm
Crowdsourcing ideas for a thriving New Zealand and holding decision makers accountable, this is a special event hosted in collaboration with RockEnrol NZ. Read more and sign up on Facebook.

Floortalk with Chris McBride and Philip Kelly
9 October, 5:30pm
An opportunity to hear from Wellington Media Collective members Chris McBride and Philip Kelly about the history and significance of these works, and the development of the exhibition.

AudioCulture and WMC present:
NZ Music & Activism 1978-1998
14 October, 6–9pm
Simon Grigg, Creative Director of NZ on Screen’s AudioCulture website and Philip Kelly of Wellington Media Collective present an evening of New Zealand music that charts the turbulent times of the WMC’s existence, drawing parallels between the output of the Collective and NZ music of the period. This event is part of Art Week.

Collectivism Then and Now
23 October, 5.30pm
Members of the Wellington Media Collective are joined by representatives from collectives Local Time, Cut Collective and D.A.N.C.E Art Club for a discussion around the ambitions and mechanics of collaborative activity past and present, and its activist role in making change.

The exhibition draws on an archival project undertaken by the Adam Art Gallery in collaboration with the Alexander Turnbull Library and the Department of Museum and Heritage Studies, Victoria University of Wellington. A book, We Will Work With You (2013), coordinated and edited by Ian Wedde with Mark Derby and Jenny Rouse, was co-published by the Adam Art Gallery and Victoria University Press to accompany the exhibition.


ST PAUL St Gallery
ST PAUL St is a suite of purpose-built galleries and project spaces run by the School of Art and Design, AUT University, Auckland, Aotearoa/New Zealand. Since its establishment in 2004, ST PAUL St has developed a strong programme, which has seen the Gallery recognised as a leading university gallery and a place for generating critical discussion around contemporary art and design in Aotearoa/New Zealand.

For more information, contact Charlotte Huddleston at [email protected].


ST PAUL St Gallery presents We Will Work With You: Wellington Media Collective 1978–1998

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