Visitors to Good Work, at City Gallery Wellington, will experience many
surprising pieces, including Kerrie Poliness's eye-boggling Black O wall
drawings, which must be drawn by Gallery staff (by following instruction
books supplied) at each new venue.
It takes a bold collector to buy artworks that have no permanent existence
as physical objects. But Wellington couple Jim Barr and Mary Barr have never
shied away from challenging or contentious works.
From its origins in the early 1970s, the Barrs' collection has grown into
one of the
country's significant collections of Australian and New Zealand contemporary
art. It showcases work from 1971 to 2001, and features artists such as
Michael Parekowhai, Warwick Freeman, Jeffrey Harris, Colin McCahon, Ricky
Swallow, Mikala Dywer, Shane Cotton, Ronnie Van Hout, Lillian Budd and Peter
This collection is noted for its lively, bold and contentious approach to
what's current in art on both sides of the Tasman, says curator Justin
Paton. It's a crucial graph of the life of New Zealand art in the last
three decades and a provocative account of where the 'good work' is right
now. The Barrs consider their collection a work in progress, says Paton,
and it reflects their belief that collections should be passionate, playful
Most of the works in Good Work come from the Barr's Wellington collection,
with the rest from the loan collections of the Dunedin Public Art Gallery.
In 1997, Jim Barr and Mary Barr offered more than 120 of their works to the
Dunedin Public Art Gallery on long-term loan. This body of work now forms a
significant part of the DPAG's contemporary holdings.
The collection continues to grow in Wellington. Recently, for instance, the
Barrs have begun to collect video - a medium which, despite its influence in
contemporary art, has not been collected in earnest by any New Zealand
public gallery. Good Work is the loan collection's first substantial airing
since Shared Pleasures at the Waikato Museum of Art and History in 1993 and
Open Hang at the Dunedin Public Art Gallery in 1997.
A Dunedin Public Art Gallery Touring exhibition.