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 July 2021 My Choice has been selected by Chairman of the Sarjeant Gallery Trust Board Nicola Williams MNZM, and is available to view until 31 July 2021. As well as 3 years working for a finance company and merchant bank, Nicola Williams worked in the NZ fishing industry for 18 years in a family company based at Castlecliff, Whanganui. The company was sold to Sanfords Ltd in 1994 and since that time Nicola has managed a number of family investment entities as well as involving herself in community projects and local politics. She was a trustee of the Wanganui Life Education Trust, a founding member of the Wanganui Arts Festival and Blooming Arts Festival, Chairman of the ERUPT Lake Taupō Festival Trust for 8 years, a Corporate Patron of the Sarjeant Gallery since 1994, and a long term supporter and benefactor of numerous NZ charities. She has also involved herself in a number of election campaign teams, a delegate for the National Party in the Taupō Electorate and served as a Councillor on the Taupō District Council for one triennium. Nicola has acted as Chairman of the Sarjeant Gallery Trust since 2014 and along with Greg Anderson, Sarjeant Gallery Director, has spearheaded the capital raising for the Sarjeant Gallery Redevelopment Project. She was awarded an MNZM in June 2019 for her efforts.
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.
These works from the Sarjeant Gallery's permanent collection are currently on display at Sarjeant on the Quay in the exhibitions 'Lets Face It. Portraits from the Collection' until 8 Aug 2021 and 'Collection Focus. Ralph Hotere' until 15 Aug 2021.
Little was previously known about Charlotte Hardcastle (1828 - 1908) and, thanks to recent research by Professor Michele Leggott and her team at Auckland University, we now know considerably more about this early NZ artist. While the team were researching another NZ artist, Emily Cumming Harris (1837-1925) it became apparent that the two women were acquainted and that Emily looked to the more experienced Charlotte as an artistic mentor who also provided tutelage on wood engraving while they both resided in Nelson. Charlotte Hardcastle was born in Abingdon, UK, and during the 1850s-1860s exhibited flower and bird studies at the Royal Society of British Artists, the British Institution and the Royal Academy. Charlotte emigrated to Australia in 1868 where she married her cousin Edward Hardcastle (c.1836-1886) following which they moved to NZ, ending up in Whanganui in 1877 where Charlotte exhibited still life and flower paintings in the Exhibition of Fine Arts, Science & Industry, alongside Emily Harris who also exhibited. The exhibition was organised by the newly-established Whanganui Public Library and held in the Princess Theatre. Charlotte’s exhibited works were enthusiastically reviewed in the Whanganui Chronicle. The Hardcastles relocated several times for Edward’s work and after his death Charlotte and her daughter Kathleen returned to Whanganui where Charlotte died in 1908, and Kathleen remained until her death in 1932. We believe these six botanical works were probably gifted to the Sarjeant Gallery by Kathleen after her mother’s death. As far as we are aware these are the only works by Charlotte held in a NZ collection. To read more about Emily Harris and Charlotte visit https://emilycummingharris.blogs.auckland.ac.nz/
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.
Recently added to the Sarjeant collection are a group of drawings completed by James Herbert Golding Alp (b.1911, d.1989) whilst he was a prisoner of war (POW) during World War 2. These drawings, along with a diary and his POW registration card, were gifted by members of his family. Alp was born in Gillingham, Dorset, UK and at the age of 12 immigrated to New Zealand with his family, settling in Whanganui. While at school he joined the Army Cadets and later served in the Territorials. At the time of his enlistment in 1940 he was active as a Corporal and also worked for his father at his auction mart. He progressed to the rank of Lieutenant in the Second New Zealand Expeditionary Force, Middle East Section, New Zealand Infantry and landed in Egypt on 17 March 1941. He was assigned to New Zealand Divisional Signals in April 1942 and served less than three months before being captured in the Western Desert, Africa on 15 July 1942. He was one of 1,500 prisoners trapped that day and was originally listed as missing/queried killed in action until being confirmed as a POW two months later. During this time he was promoted to Captain. He was held briefly in North Africa at Barce and Derna then in Italy at Campo 78, Sulmona and Campo 47, Modena. When Italy capitulated in September 1943 he was transferred from Modena to Offlag 79 near Brunswick in Northern Germany, transiting through Stalag IVB and Offlag VIIIF. The sketches in the Sarjeant collection are from the camps in Barce, Derna and Modena. His diary, which he began in the final 4 months of his interment in Offlag 79, records the monotony, limited rations and freezing temperatures they experienced as well as his joy at being liberated on 12 April 1945 ‘We are free! The Yanks are in the Camp and the German sentries are now in the bag! Happy days are here again!’ Following his return to New Zealand Alp worked as an insurance salesman and a commercial artist before being appointed custodian of the Sarjeant Gallery from 1963 to 1974.
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. For further information visit https://www.nzherald.co.nz/wanganui-chronicle/news/article.cfm?c_id=1503426&objectid=12326071
Works that have recently entered the Sarjeant Gallery collection.
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.