Another year clocked at the AAG, A time for reflection
The Ashburton Art Gallery held its 34th AGM on Thursday 20th September. It proceeded in its usual cheerful pattern, presided over by Derek Binnie, smoothly conducting his first AGM. He was flanked by our smiling Manager/Curator, Shirin Khosraviani, visibly content after a very busy few weeks. The high point was her extremely successful Annual Report, delivered to the Ashburton District Council the preceding week. They listened benignly as she unfolded the survey of an amazing year. All was sweetness and light – not a usual scenario – and those of us attending this occasion were filled with pride at the achievements of Shirin and her team: Nicole, Simone and Alex. Shirin remarked whole-heartedly that “This 17-18 year has been rather monumental”.
Gallery visits increased by over 12% during this year, with growing foot traffic during the summer and markedly during all school holidays. This development is despite fewer exhibitions during the past year. This was due to the significance and scale of The Water Project. This jewel in the Ashburton exhibition crown was years in the planning, initiated by Shirin. A community of 13 significant contemporary NZ artists spent a year exploring and creating art works founded on local relationships with the freshwater resources of NZ communities. Science, spirituality, creativity came together to provide an astonishing exhibition.
Fundraising has loomed large and successfully this past year, as we catch up with ourselves and further our ambitions for the Gallery. It has adroitly combined enjoyable functions with an influx of enjoyable profit raised for the Gallery. October ’17 saw the ambitious and successful Ashburton’s Longest Dinner, brainstormed by Fleur Mulligan and an enthusiastic team. The Ashburton Arcade provided an unusual and splendid table length, catered deliciously by Chantelle Quinn and her staff at Twenty-four Catering Co. December saw the wonderful and moving two-person show “Love Letters”, staged in the Gallery itself. Organised by Anne Carr and her fund-raising subcommittee, it starred Karen Elliot and Kevin Soster. It created real relationships with the audience, using humour, emotion and engagement during the two performances. March ’18 presented another of our well-chosen and appreciated movie nights at the Regent, showing “Loving Vincent” a beautifully animated story centred on Vincent Van Gogh.
Education continued to be a key activity at the Gallery, encouraging our future patrons, and stimulating the creative urges of many young people in the Ashburton District. The Gallery’s regular monthly weekend programmes of Jub Jub Club and weekly after-school programme Art Addicts, both offer varying art-based sessions for young people, designed and organised by Simone, with links to whatever current exhibitions are being shown at the Gallery. There are also regular programmes for local schools, which entails classroom visits of various age groups. There is little enforced hush: opinions and questions are vocal and enthusiastic.
A major task of importance carried out by the Committee recently has been editing and altering the Gallery constitution. This painstaking work was undertaken by Fleur with a small subcommittee, examining the precision of language and meaning of every word and article changed.
At the AGM, the election of the Committee and officers was chaired by our patron, Don Macleod, who gently steered the democratic process to completion. We passed on regretful farewells to committee members: Sarah, Harper and Mary-Jo Holdaway. Also to be missed will be Pam Burdett, who has been an integral character in all manner of artistic narratives in our community. New members for the committee are Sarah Davidson and Denise O’Halloran, who were warmly welcomed.
There was a small period of satisfied sighs and congratulations, and then the committee eagerly started planning the next year.
A digitally presented Visitor Satisfaction survey has been initiated, enhancing the strength of community involvement in the Gallery. The shop – now organized and arranged on excellent design principles by Alex – is a popular destination for the local community. Exiting through the Gift Shop works very well!
Ashburton Art Gallery Committee member