Since the 2011 earthquake, Christchurch has experienced an artistic transformation. No longer are its galleries confined to High Street – new contemporary venues have been spreading their scope further afield. The diversity of the newest exhibition spaces to make their way into this New Zealand city is highly commendable, and is markedly evident in these 12 must-visit art galleries.
The Art Box Gallery was established by Beverley Frost in September 2011 to help and support local artists who had lost their exhibition spaces in the aftermath of the Canterbury earthquakes. Frost is an artist herself, working out of her own Loftus Street studio where the gallery resides. Some of the artists represented by the Art Box include Paul Smith, Christine Lang, Melanie Hammet, Mike Glover, and Jo Byrne.
The Jonathan Smart Gallery dedicates itself to showcasing New Zealand’s best contemporary artworks. Noteworthy names that are consistently featured in its exhibitions include Mark Braunias, Judy Darragh, Andrew Drummond, Stephen Bambury and Robert Hood. The gallery has been around since 1987, shifting to its current Sydenham location in 2013, and represents artists from various backgrounds and disciplines.
A showcase of artworks from the University of Canterbury and beyond, The Ilam Gallery always has something new and interesting to share: the top art portfolios to come out of Christchurch’s high schools, contemporary pieces reflecting on the aftermath of the Christchurch earthquakes, a homage to some of the country’s finest painters, or regular displays of the Ilam School of Fine Arts’ greatest hits are just a few notable examples.
The National represents New Zealand’s contemporary jewellers. Along with showcasing the work of more than 40 different jewellery makers, the gallery also displays sculptural ceramics, glass, and object-based works. The National opened in 2004 and resided on High Street until 2011, temporarily relocating to a shared venue on Madras Street before permanently shifting to an independent space on Moorhouse Avenue. The gallery is open from Tuesday until Saturday and viewings are available by appointment.
The Physics Room takes its name from the room it occupied at the Christchurch Arts Centre in 1996. The gallery has been at its current site in Tuam since 1999, and its mission has always been the same: to promote and highlight the importance of art in the wider social, political and cultural spectrum. Along with a regular schedule of events and exhibitions, The Physics Room also host an archival collection of contemporary art projects that are no longer in the public realm.
A unique, artist-run dealer gallery that runs alongside a print-making studio. Formerly known as the PaperGraphica Gallery, this space initially focused on exhibiting prints produced in-house, but has since evolved to represent local artists across all disciplines. Previous artists to exhibit their work at the PG gallery 192 include Euan McLeod, Darryn George, Philippa Blair, Nic Moon, Marian McGuire, and Sam Harrison.