The Friends tour of Parliament’s Art Collection had many dimensions. The beautiful art works were to be expected but the tour was also interesting in other ways, not the least being the venue.

The tour went from Parliament House across to Bowen House and back again. In Bowen House we visited the Exhibition Space where the current exhibition is Image and Imagination: China & New Zealand Art Exhibition.

Back in Parliament House we saw some of the committee rooms; the Maori Affairs committee room, the Pacific Room and the recently opened Asia room. All filled with works of art from their respective countries.

We were divided into two groups led by Parliament’s Sarah Jacobs, Curator and Tasha Fernadez, Displays and Collections Assistant. They were informative guides always ready to answer our questions.

Much of the art at Parliament comes from gifts from overseas visitors. The history behind their providence was fascinating. It also means that an extraordinary mixture lines the walls from photographs of the royal family to exquisite embroidery.

Above all else the Art Collection includes superb examples of the work of most of our well known artists. We started with Susan Skerman but the list is endless. It included a wonderful Colin McCahon, two Frances Hodgkins, Fatu Feu’u, Ralph Hotere etc.

My only reservation with the tour was how little time there was to study individual works. Partly this is because the paintings are often in corridors where access can be a problem. But I was sorry, for example that we were rushed past the paintings of Bob Kerr, an artist to whom I was unfamiliar. I’d have liked more time to stand and stare.

Sue Upton
Member, Friends of Te Papa