10 Jan 2012

This content is tagged as Visual arts .


Deputy Commissioner and Curator announced for 2013 Venice Biennale

Massey University’s Head of Fine Arts, Heather Galbraith will be deputy commissioner for New Zealand’s presentation at the 2013 Venice Biennale, and Christchurch Art Gallery Senior Curator, Justin Paton will be curator.

Following the announcement in October of Bill Culbert as the artist selected for 2013, the deputy commissioner and curator appointments were confirmed this week by the Creative New Zealand Arts Council and the 2013 Venice Biennale Commissioner Jenny Harper.

Heather Galbraith brings a wealth of experience through her New Zealand curatorial roles at St Paul St Gallery and City Gallery, and as deputy commissioner for the 2009 Venice Biennale where she co-curated Francis Upritchard’s exhibition Save Yourself.  With her experience at New Zealand’s 2009 Venice presentation and in London, where was she curator at Camden Arts Centre in the early 2000s, Galbraith also has strong international networks. 

Justin Paton, recently announced as the 2012 Katherine Mansfield Menton Fellow, is one of New Zealand’s foremost curators, an award-winning writer on the arts, and a television presenter. His recent exhibitions include De-Building at the Christchurch Art Gallery; Unguided Tours: The Anne Landa Award for Video and New Media Arts at the Art Gallery of New South Wales in Sydney; and Outer Spaces, the Christchurch Art Gallery’s current programme of post-earthquake public art and offsite projects.

In September it was announced that a deputy commissioner for 2013 would be appointed to support the work of the commissioner, and gain knowledge and experience of exhibiting at the biennale.

Commissioner Jenny Harper said: “I’m delighted Heather has accepted the deputy commissioner role.  She was a key part of a very successful presentation in Venice in 2009, and her energy and know-how will be central again in 2013. It is crucial that New Zealand builds and expands its pool of knowledge and experience for this and future biennales.”

The curator will support and collaborate with the artist during the development of the new work and its installation in Venice, and will write for the exhibition catalogue, blog and website that will be part of the 2013 presentation.

Jenny Harper said: “As a curator and communicator, Justin is a great addition to the team. Bill was very keen to have him involved, as they have worked together before, and Justin has written about Bill’s work on many occasions.  Justin has a record of working closely with artists on ambitious new works in challenging settings.  His experience as a presenter, editor and writer will ensure the information around and beyond the exhibition is clear and compelling.”

Several venue options are currently being explored for the 2013 exhibition.

“Space is scarce and fiercely competed for in Venice, so we have begun looking as early as possible. There are some exciting possibilities. Bill is an artist who responds very closely to a given space, and we are keen to confirm a venue and allow him to respond directly to it.  Many of Bill’s most fascinating works have appeared in settings that are not traditional white-cube spaces.  It’s exciting to imagine the play-off between his illuminated sculptures and the historic textures and surfaces of Venice,” said Jenny Harper.

The exhibition manager and venue attendant roles will be advertised in early 2012.



Prior to becoming Head of the School of Fine Arts at Massey University, Heather Galbraith was Senior Curator Art at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Senior Curator at the City Gallery in Wellington, and inaugural Director/Curator of St. Paul St Gallery, AUT University in Auckland.  Galbraith spent 12 years in London where she undertook postgraduate studies in curatorial practice at Goldsmiths College and worked as Exhibitions Organiser for seven years at Camden Arts Centre.

Galbraith has been an external examiner on postgraduate programmes for the School of Art and Design, AUT University and the Elam School of Fine Arts, University of Auckland; and a visiting lecturer at the Royal College of Art and Goldsmiths College, both in London.

Justin Paton is one of New Zealand's foremost curators and art writers and between 1999 and 2005 was editor of the journal of arts and letters Landfall.  He has published books on many artists, including Ricky Swallow, Jeffrey Harris, Julia Morison and Jude Rae; and contributed to many catalogues and publications in New Zealand and internationally. In 2006 his book How to Look at a Painting won the Lifestyle and Contemporary Culture category at the Montana New Zealand Book Awards.  It later formed the basis of a twelve-part documentary series produced by Desert Road Television and screened on TVNZ7 and TV1.  Paton is a highly respected curator, whose recent exhibitions include De-Building at Christchurch Art Gallery, Unguided Tours at the Art Gallery of New South Wales in Sydney, and Outer Spaces, a programme of post-earthquake public art in Christchurch.


2013 Venice Biennale project

It was announced in October that New Zealand born and educated Bill Culbert has been invited to present his work at the 55thVenice Biennale in 2013.  Selected by a panel of gallery directors and visual arts experts, Culbert is a maker of elegant, poetic and often dazzling sculptural installations that harness the qualities of electric light and make striking use of recycled and repurposed materials.

Celebrated in New Zealand, Culbert’s sculptures, photographs and ‘light works’ are also esteemed in Europe, where he resides in London and southern France.  Returning to New Zealand every year to exhibit, Culbert has had many solo exhibitions in public and dealer galleries, among them Groundworks at Govett-Brewster Art Gallery in 2008; 180 x 2 Whanganui at the Sarjeant Gallery in 2009; and yearly solo exhibitions since 2006 at Sue Crockford Gallery in Auckland. His work also featured in new collection hangs at Christchurch Art Gallery in 2009 (Brought to Light: A New View of the Collection) and the new Auckland Art Gallery in 2011.

He is a regular exhibitor in Australia, with recent appearances in Unnerved: The New Zealand Project at Queensland Art Gallery in 2010; Grey Water at the Institute of Modern Art in Brisbane in 2007; and the solo exhibition Flat Light at Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery in Sydney in 2009. His most recent solo show beyond New Zealand was Back Light, at Laurent Delaye in London in June this year.

Creative New Zealand's investment in the 2013 Venice Biennale will be $650,000.  This includes the rental and staffing of a pavilion for New Zealand during the 6-month exhibition and a fee for the artist to assist with the costs of making and freighting their work to Venice.  The 2013 Venice Biennale will be New Zealand’s sixth presentation at the exhibition.