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 April 2020 My Choice has been selected by Riah King-Wall and is available to view until 30 April 2020. Riah King-Wall is a freelance cultural sector professional and postgraduate student. Previous roles have included Public Programmer at the Whanganui Regional Museum, Arts Advisor at Whanganui District Council, and Strategic Lead, Creative Industries and Arts at Whanganui & Partners. Riah's selections are a love letter to four and a half years spent living in Whanganui, with each work connecting to a particular place-based mood, memory or location.
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 470 items including archives and ephemera. In addition there are a further 30 works by Edith Collier in the Gallery’s permanent collection.
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 collection of art photography to form part of the new Sarjeant Gallery’s collection. In 1926 over 170 photographs gathered by Denton from around the world were exhibited at the Sarjeant Gallery. Subsequently 83 of the photographs were donated to the Gallery’s collection, making it the first Gallery in NZ to seriously collect photography.
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.
A selection of images taken by early NZ photographer Annie Elizabeth Davis (b.1870, d.1943) from the Edith Collier Trust Archive. We believe that Annie’s sister Ethel Margaret Ellison (née Davis b.1879, d.1961) was a friend of Edith’s, as seen in one of the photographs taken by Annie of 13 year old Edith and 19 year old Ethel with their bicycles. Also within the ECT archive are written letters between Edith and Ethel. Annie Davis and photographer Emily Collis opened The Ridgway Studio in Whanganui in 1899. The studio was reported as being fitted out in a modern manner for the time and they had showcases of their photographic work on display in the street front below their studio. The pair had been working at another studio run by Alfred Martin, and Davis had previously worked for Wrigglesworth and Binns (in Wellington). Their studio was short lived and the pair sold it in 1901 shortly before Collis got married. Unfortunately Collis died shortly afterwards in 1903, possibly from complications in childbirth. Davis then shifted to Auckland and photographs by her were published in the Auckland Weekly News in 1911 and 1912. She died in Auckland in 1943.