A new gallery space dedicated to the late Michael Hirschfeld will support a cause close to the heart of the much-loved Wellingtonian, who died early this year.
The Michael Hirschfeld Gallery, on the ground floor of City Gallery Wellington, opens later this week.
Itís appropriate to name this space after Michael because of his passion for the arts, and his support of new talent, says Wellington Museums Trust chair, Sue Driver. The new gallery recognises his extraordinary contribution to the arts in Wellington, and his commitment to the City Gallery.
The new Gallery will show recent work and artistsí projects by Wellington artists, with exhibitions changing monthly. Art, from painting and sculpture to multimedia and video art, as well as architecture and design, will be featured.
Michael Hirschfeld, a diabetic, died suddenly on 5 January 1999, aged 54. He was a founding member and chair of the Wellington Museums Trust, which governs City Gallery, from its inception in October 1995 until his death. This was an important time in the growth of the City Gallery and the institutionís success was due in no small part to his enthusiasm and vision, says Ms Savage.
A patron of the arts, Michael Hirschfeld was an influential member of the Wellington Sculpture Trust and the steering group for Victoria Universityís Adam Art Gallery. He was also chairman of Circa Theatre.
Ms Savage says the opening of the Michael Hirschfeld Gallery is timely for the capital.
In the nine years that I have been director of the City Gallery, Iíve seen an enormous increase in the level of artistic activity in Wellington. With two design schools and an art school opening soon, there are many practising artists and designers coming to the capital to take up teaching positions. There are also many younger artists whose work is of a high quality.
Eight Wellington artists feature in the first exhibition at the Michael Hirschfeld Gallery. The group consists of well known younger artists and emerging talent: Robert Cherry, Gavin Hipkins, Sean Kerr, Melissa MacLeod, Simon Morris, Richard Reddaway, Kinstry Smythe, and Terry Urbahn. Solo exhibitions are also planned.
This new initiative by City Gallery Wellington will give people an opportunity to experience what is happening in contemporary art in the city, says Ms Savage.
The Hirschfeld Gallery stands as a memorial to a man of extraordinary insight, generosity and fervour, a staunch friend of the City Gallery, a friend and patron of the arts in general, and a much loved person.
Michael Hirschfeld was born in Wellington of Jewish parents who had emigrated from Palestine. Throughout his life, he upheld the centrality of the arts and imagination to human life, and maintained deep humanitarian principles, serving as chairman of Amnesty Internationalís Freedom Foundation, and New Zealand Jews for Peace in the Middle East. A highly successful businessman in the family firm Mico Wakefield, and the Shipping Corporation, he was also politically active. In his early days at Victoria University, he spearheaded campaigns against New Zealandís involvement in the Vietnam War. He rose to become president of the Labour Party in 1995. He was Pro-Chancellor of Victoria University from 1996 onwards, and had been re-elected for his fourth term on the Victoria University Council just before his death.