Wellington Scoop

City Gallery names new senior curator who aims for high turnover and collaboration

News from City Gallery
City Gallery Wellington is delighted to announce the appointment of Robert Leonard to the position of Senior Curator. Currently Director of Brisbane’s Institute of Modern Art, Robert Leonard is one of New Zealand’s most experienced exhibition makers.

Before moving to Brisbane in 2005 he was curator at New Plymouth’s Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, Dunedin Public Art Gallery, Auckland Art Gallery and from 1997 to 2002 he directed Auckland’s Artspace. He jokes that he ‘has played for both teams in all positions’.

City Gallery Wellington Director Elizabeth Caldwell says: ‘We are delighted that Robert Leonard will take up the position of Senior Curator in January 2014. He brings a wealth of curatorial experience, an exemplary track record of working closely with artists and a respected academic reputation to the role. I am excited to work with him to develop City Gallery Wellington’s programme”.

Asked about his approach to programming, Leonard said: “I want to balance my love of detailed exhibition making with coal-face responsiveness, high turnover, and direct collaboration with artists. I am interested in the radical relativism of contemporary art, the fact everything is up for grabs, but also understand that all new moves are always read against a tradition, a canon, and will transform or succumb to it. I appreciate art that stands the test of time but I am equally into art that is right here, right now”.

During his time in Brisbane, Leonard has maintained close links with New Zealand, touring exhibitions here or co-producing them with New Zealand galleries. These include IMA shows of Shane Cotton and Gregory Crewdson which will open together at City Gallery Wellington in early June.

“The IMA is a small gallery but we have achieved great things by working with others, by pooling resources. I have developed great working relationships with other players throughout New Zealand and Australia—I now see myself as an Australasia-based curator. I want to maintain and mine these relationships in my work at City Gallery. I am a promiscuous collaborator”, explains Leonard.

Robert Leonard has a long association with Wellington. He began his career here 1985 as the first curatorial intern at the National Art Gallery (later to become Te Papa), and worked there until 1991. In 2002 he returned to the capital for a year as J.W. Stout Fellow at Victoria University.