June 3, 2011

Behind Closed Doors: New Zealand Art from Private Collections in Wellington

Adam Art Gallery at Victoria University of Wellington
Neil Pardington, from the series Behind Closed Doors, 2011.



From June to December the Adam Art Gallery presents, Behind Closed Doors: New Zealand Art from Private Collections in Wellington, a major exhibition that sets out to canvass selective ‘moments’ in a history of New Zealand art from 1946 to the present, drawn exclusively from private collections in the city of Wellington.


Designed to reveal the holdings of private collectors in Wellington, the show makes the case that such a history can be compiled without drawing on the resources of public museums, proving that private individuals are as adventurous and wide-ranging in their acquisitions as any of the city’s institutions.


But more than this, Behind Closed Doors offers insights into the cultural makeup of the city; a subtext of the show being a demonstration of the infinitely subtle ways in which collective values and shared tastes intersect with individual predilections and private desires to produce cultural identity.


This play between self and society is underlined by the two components of the exhibition: on the one hand the exhibition in the gallery presents works in ways that are appropriate to this institutional frame, focusing primarily on larger art historical narratives to determine the works’ arrangements. On the other, a book is in production, with commissioned photographs by leading photographer Neil Pardington and texts by writer Lara Strongman that picture and discuss the works ‘at home’, where a range of more intimate portraits of the works can be told.


At a time when the cult of the collector has reached a point of overheating, this exhibition offers a modest revision to the art world’s contemporary obsession with the market and the mega-collection, providing a small history of the habits of one city’s arts patronage as it has evolved from the 1960s to the present.


Alongside Behind Closed Doors the Adam Art Gallery is staging a changing programme of projects titled: in camera: a project series around and about collecting. Located in one room of the Adam Art Gallery, this series illuminates other personal acts of collecting, from the Victorian craze for the photographic carte-de-visites to Leonid Tischkov’s cycle of large-scale colour photographs documenting a man and his ‘private moon’.


The project series will be launched with g. bridle’s The Inimical: A Selection from the Retreat which is an iteration of an ongoing process of collection and presentation undertaken by a mysterious individual whose status as artist, curator or collector is open to conjecture.

in camera: a project series around and about collecting:


4 June–10 July: g. bridle, The Inimical: A Selection from the Retreat
16 July–21 August: Richard Frater, Chris Prosser, Anna Sanderson, (A Film Called) Ellipsis. Curated by Laura Preston
27 August–2 October: Leonid Tishkov, Private Moon
8 October–13 November: The Victorian Album, the Feminine and the Personal. Curated by Sandy Callister
19 November–18 December: Shadowgraphs: Photographic portraits by Len Lye. Curated by Professor Geoffrey Batchen and his Art History Honours students


A public programme of floor talks, panel discussions and film screenings has been designed to provide a platform for critical discussion on the issues raised by these exhibitions. For more details please check


Behind Closed Doors: New Zealand Art from Private Collections in Wellington is supported by Creative New Zealand.


Adam Art Gallery
Victoria University of Wellington
Gate 3, Kelburn Parade
PO Box 600, Wellington 6140
New Zealand
+ 64 4 463 5229
Tuesday to Sunday 11am-5pm
[email protected]


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