About forty Friends of Te Papa were escorted by Curator Stephen Cleland through the current exhibition, Out of Site: Works from the Victoria University of Wellington Art Collection, at the Adam Art Gallery at the Victoria University of Wellington (VUW).

Resulting from the combination of the closure of the VUW’s Karori campus, seismic damage, and the construction of a new climate-controlled on-campus storage facility, about half of the VUW’s 576-piece art collection has had to be temporarily relocated. This unexpected assembly of art has facilitated the creation of this exhibition, with pieces rarely displayed together previously.

Stephen enthusiastically and passionately provided his insights into the inspiration behind Out of Site, in which all the pieces reflect, respond or relate to site. An interesting added feature of the exhibition, and playing on the title Out of Site, is the inclusion of select archival documents relating to some of the exhibited pieces, which are normally not put on public display.

As the group moved from one space to another, Stephen discussed approximately twelve pieces, diverse in style and form. Highlights included Neil Pardington’s Behind Closed Doors, which was commissioned by the Adam Art Gallery in 2011. It is a voyeuristic series of 25 black and white digital photographs of works of art selected for exhibition by the Adam Art Gallery, as they hung in the homes or storage facilities of their private owners.

Gordon Crook’s Light Installation, which was created in 1974 for the Karori Post Office, hangs from the ceiling in the Gallery’s entry foyer. Stephen explained how this colourful piece has been retrofitted with a metal frame attachment to simplify its otherwise painstaking installation procedure.

Juxtaposed against more contemporary pieces is a 1949 portrait, painted by Evelyn Page, of esteemed professor and first Principal of Victoria University College, Thomas Alexander Hunter, in a uniquely informal pose, at his untidy work desk. This painting is cleverly situated on a wall between two windows, through which is seen the Hunter Building, thereby framing the portrait with the subject’s namesake building.

The evening culminated with refreshments, and Friends benefited immensely by being able to mingle and chat informally with Stephen, and Gallery Administrator Ann Gale, regarding their insights into this inspired exhibition.

Out of Site: Works from the Victoria University of Wellington Art Collection  closes 23 April 2017.