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March 9, 2009 | by  | in Visual Arts | [ssba]

Visual Arts Guide

Trying to find entertainment in Wellington on a student’s budget can be difficult at the best of times; a visit to any one of Wellington’s many galleries, however, is an inexpensive way to spend the day. While most of these are dealer galleries, admission is usually free. Here is a list (although certainly not an extensive one) of galleries around Wellington central.

ROAR! Gallery

Located on Abel Smith St (above Real Groovy) this gallery prides itself on promoting ‘outsider art’. While they would be the first to admit this is a pretty difficult genre to define, they do promote work by New Zealand artists who struggle to showcase their work in other galleries. This usually produces an interesting array of art, as seen in their current exhibition, including the work of David Boyle, Roger Morris, Ray Ritchie and Val Sutherland, presenting what the gallery calls “an education about the other side of the story—the underdog’s point of view”.

Thistle Hall

This gallery is on the corner of Cuba and Arthur streets. Karen Mills’ work is currently on display, whose works in a range of mediums display the figure of the burlesque female, at times in the most reductive form.

Page Blackie Gallery

Formally known as the Tinakori Gallery, this showroom has moved to 42 Victoria Street. As with most Wellington galleries, there is a strong focus on New Zealand art, both contemporary and historical. There is also a connection with VUW, as the partner, James Blackie, is a former Art History honours student.

Museum of Wellington

While this venue is set up more in a museum style than the bare style of modern galleries, it does pay particular attention to often-overlooked mediums of art. The current exhibition “Shaped by Hand” looks at the history of ceramic pottery in NZ, and specifically the 50 national exhibitions held by New Zealand Potters Inc. Perhaps most impressive is the dedication of the staff; this museum is open every day from 10am – 5 pm and is only closed on Christmas day.


On Courtenay place, above the Sahara Café and Cha Restaurant, Photospace is one of the few galleries in Wellington dedicated solely to contemporary NZ photography. The calibre of art is supported by the fact that this gallery also has its own studio space. There is an admission fee, by koha or donation.

Enjoy Public Art Gallery

The public art advertised in the name is located at Level 1/147 Cuba Street. This is an artist-run gallery, which is—uniquely for a gallery not funded by the council—non-commercial. The works are on display to promote discussion, support and criticism as epitomised by the National Drawing Award which the gallery is a part of.

Emerge Gallery

Emerge Gallery—on the corner of Wakefield and Chaffers Streets—perhaps stands out as the gallery which focuses the least on paintings or 2D works of art. Glass works, sculptures and jewellery play a prominent role in the gallery’s display. While it is free to look, the jewellery could prove to be an expensive purchase, with prices of $115 unwards.


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  1. snobbs says:

    I thought Emerge had closed down, would be good to see them reemerge though…

  2. Katherine says:

    Yes Emerge has sadly been closed for more than a year.

    Toi Poneke Gallery next door to Roar at 61 Abel Smith St is definitely worth checking out too. This City Council run space has a varied exhibition programme and focusses on supporting emerging artists

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