New Hastings City Art Gallery curator Clayton Gibson counts himself as lucky to be part of an enthusiastic and highly skilled exhibitions team, who he can now see in person with the easing of COVID-19 restrictions.
“It was quite strange beginnings,” he says of starting his new job at the onset of the COVID-19 lockdown, having to familiarise himself with the role from his own studio.
With the gallery open again for staff, although days are limited to the public to between Wednesdays and Saturdays, Mr Gibson is now on-site working on bringing the next two-year exhibition programme to life.
A practising local artist himself, he moved to Hawke’s Bay from Gisborne where he had been the Head of Department of Arts at Campion College, and before that had worked as the curator at Tairawhiti Arts Centre and was the education officer at Manawatu Art Gallery.
Upon moving to Hawke’s Bay he says he was most recently a teacher at Taikura Rudolf Steiner School, a place where “beauty and aesthetics are a cornerstone of the educational philosophy”.
Te Whare Toi o Heretaunga Hastings City Art Gallery is an integral feature of the region’s visual and cultural landscape, he says.
“We provide a space where people can view the highest standard of local and national artwork. It is a place where the community engages with art and artists in a way that is stimulating and thought provoking, and which I believe has a profound effect on community wellbeing and health.”
As curator, he sees his role as providing the community with the opportunity and encouragement to access the art and associated activities the gallery provides, to connect with exhibitions that challenge the thinking and that are fun, and excite people enough to want to make visiting the gallery a must-do choice when they visit Hastings or come into town.
As well as supporting local and national artists he says he is committed to honouringthe rich aesthetic heritage of tangatawhenua and supporting the contemporary artists working out of this kaupapa.
With the disruption of COVID-19 one of first jobs has been to quickly create a new exhibition to replace one, Connect the Dots, which had to be postponed until next year as it was interactive in nature.
The upcoming exhibition, Local Lockdown, opens on June 12 and features 16 local artists and the works they have produced during the lockdown.
His other immediate focus is on EAST 2020, a biennial exhibition presented by Te Whare Toi o Heretaunga Hastings City Art Gallery celebrating Ngā ringatoi o Te Matau-a-Māui Hawke’s Bay arts sector.
Submissions to participate in this exhibition have been extended to June 30 because of COVID-19.
More information at www.hastingscityartgallery.co.nz
28 May 2020
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