Each month a member of our community is invited to browse our online collection and select six of their favourite artworks. Each My Choice selection, together with personal responses to the works, will be available to view on the Sarjeant Gallery website for one month at a time. The August 2022 My Choice has been selected by artist Andrew McLeod and is available to view until 31 August, 2022. Andrew McLeod has been in Whanganui for the past few months as the Sarjeant Gallery’s Tylee Cottage artist-in-residence. His practice encompasses painting, digital art and printmaking. Regardless of the medium McLeod is working in at the time, his works are steeped in the history of art. McLeod’s work is held in public collections around the country and extensively exhibited both nationally and internationally since he graduated from Elam School of Fine Arts back in 1998. McLeod has also been awarded an Arts Foundation Award with a Patronage Donation from Gus and Irene Fisher, the McCahon House Artists’ Residency alongside this, being the most recent Tylee Cottage artist-in-residence here in Whanganui.
Works that have recently entered the Sarjeant Gallery collection.
The Sarjeant Gallery holds the Edith Collier Trust collection which encompasses the majority of Collier’s surviving output. The Gallery works in partnership with the Edith Collier Trust to document, display and manage the collection, which permanently resides with the Gallery. Whanganui born Edith Marion Collier (1885-1964) was a Modernist and expatriate painter who worked alongside Frances Hodgkins and Margaret Preston in Europe from 1915 to the early 1920’s. On her return to Whanganui in 1922 her accomplished artwork and innovative ideas were met with incomprehension and criticism. She has since been properly acknowledged as contributing to the Modernist development of NZ art history. The ECT collection comprises of over 1,000 items including archives and ephemera. In addition there are a further 30 works by Edith Collier in the Gallery’s permanent collection. To view the archives go to the Edith Collier Trust Archive highlight.
We currently have 55 collection works on display in 'The Pool Room. Dolly Mitchell-Anyon's Collection' which is open until 16 October, 2022. This exhibition comprises of works that potter Ross Mitchell-Anyon (1954-2022) gifted his parents, Dolly (1930-2021) and Barrie Mitchell-Anyon (1929-2007), from the 1970s onwards. When Ross’s works were at Dolly and Barrie’s house, they were in use: in the garden, the lounge or in the kitchen. They had passed the muster, survived decades of use and witnessed multiple generations of children growing up. In 2021 when Dolly passed away, the family decided to donate the pottery as a collection to the Sarjeant Gallery. The pots in this exhibition are a snapshot of a home as well as a precis of Ross Mitchell-Anyon’s different styles and periods of production. This exhibition was made possible with the support of the Blumhardt Foundation and Creative New Zealand. The artworks on display are still in the process of being catalogued and will be available to view online soon.
Archival items, photograph, letters and ephemera relating to early NZ Modernist painter Edith Collier. These items have been placed in the permanent care of the Sarjeant Gallery by the Edith Collier Trust (ECT). The Gallery works in partnership with the ECT to document, display and manage the collection, which permanently resides with the Gallery. Whanganui born Edith Marion Collier (1885-1964) was a Modernist and expatriate painter who worked alongside Frances Hodgkins and Margaret Preston in Europe from 1915 to the early 1920’s. On her return to Whanganui in 1922 her accomplished artwork and innovative ideas were met with incomprehension and criticism. She has since been properly acknowledged as contributing to the Modernist development of NZ art history. The ECT collection comprises of over 1,000 items including archives and ephemera. In addition there are a further 30 works by Edith Collier in the Gallery’s permanent collection. To view the artworks go to the Edith Collier Collection highlight.
Frank James Denton was born in Wellington in 1869 and worked as a successful commercial photographer in Whanganui from 1899 until 1927. In 1919, when the Sarjeant Gallery opened, Mayor Charles Mackay commissioned Denton to curate an international exhibition of art photography at the Sarjeant Gallery. In 1926 over 170 photographs gathered by Denton from around the world were exhibited. Subsequently 83 of the photographs were donated to the Gallery’s collection, making it the first Gallery in New Zealand to seriously collect photography. The works in the Denton collection are part of an international movement that dominated photography during the later 19th and early 20th centuries called Pictorialism, These photographers aimed to elevate the status of photography as a true art form rather than as a mere record of reality. As a result many Pictorialist prints were produced using technically complex and experimental methods. Following close examination by photographic conservator Mark Strange in 2017-2018 the works in this collection now have detailed media descriptions. This collection is of international significance as New Zealand's largest, finest and most comprehensive public collection of Pictorialist photographs.
The majority of the Sarjeant Gallery’s holdings of international artwork focuses on 18 th and 19 th Century British and European art. As a result of the early collecting trips to Europe by Ellen Neame (Henry Sarjeant’s widow) and John Armstrong Neame (her new husband) between 1913 – 1930, quite a number of the earlier works in the collection represent the conservative colonial taste in art at the time. The Gallery has continued to add to this collection both as a result of bequests and active purchases.
Early in 1917, in an effort to secure works for the Sarjeant Gallery’s early collection, Whanganui Mayor Charles Mackay began a letter writing campaign to cartoonists and magazine editors in most of the World War I allied countries. The response was remarkable and by 1918, when the war finally finished, the Gallery had nearly 120 cartoons from Australia, the United States of America and Britain. These works provide a unique snapshot into the political commentary of a turbulent period in our history.
On 8 April 2021, while drilling inside the walls of the Category I listed heritage building for the earthquake strengthening post-tensioning system, the drill unexpectedly hit and broke a glass jar hidden out of sight inside the wall. Remarkably the jar contained a time capsule that had been placed inside a wall cavity 103 years earlier on 28 January 1918 by John Cornfoot Brodie (b.1859, d.1930) Clerk of Works and supervisor of the Sarjeant Gallery building project. It quickly became apparent that this was not an official time capsule but instead a deeply personal selection of items relating to Brodie, his family and the Sarjeant building project. The contents of the time capsule are on display here for the first time. The most significant is a letter written by Brodie, dated 28 January 1918, where he expresses his concern about the lack of acknowledgement of the young architecture articled pupil, Donald Peter Brown Hosie (b.1895, d.1917) from the office of Edmund Anscombe in Dunedin, responsible for the winning design in the Sarjeant architectural competition. Instead Anscombe took the credit for the design, declaring that it was his work and Hosie did not challenge him, stating that he ‘was a young man and would have his chance again’. Tragically Hosie was killed in the Battle of Passchendaele a mere three weeks after the laying of the Gallery’s foundation stone. Brodie is unwilling to write Anscombe’s name in his letter and uses a dash instead. He goes on to say that others including the foreman, contractors, chairman of the Committee and leading solicitors share his opinion. Also included were personal items of Brodie’s; items unearthed from the Pukenamu Queen’s Park building site; a rare Sarjeant Art Gallery architectural competition report, published December 1916; and a copy of the Wanganui Herald and the Wanganui Chronicle, both dated 21 September 1917, the day after the laying of the Sarjeant Gallery foundation stone. Brodie was born in Hutchesontown, Glasgow, Scotland in 1859 and married Helen Gibson Hodges in 1881 in Victoria, Australia. He resided in Whanganui circa 1903 and had three surviving older daughters as well as two sons. On 2 June 1917 Brodie was announced in the Wanganui Herald as the clerk of works and supervisor for the construction of the new Gallery building. Following the completion of the Sarjeant Gallery, Brodie was also involved in the drafting of the initial and final designs for the Whanganui District War Memorial Tower on Durie Hill. His son Archibald Douglas Brodie worked as a Barrister in Whanganui and is the father of Whanganui-born artist Joan Grehan (b.1920, d.2007). A substantial body of Joan Grehan’s artwork is in the Sarjeant collection.