This is the first of what will become regular bi-monthly news sheets of activities, acquisitions, exhibitions and other programmes at the McDougall Art Gallery and will include other important visual arts news from Christchurch. It coincides with a strenuous membership drive aimed at increasing public awareness of activities and services at this our public art gallery and seeking support from an expanding membership.
Some of you will be friends of old, supporters of the gallery whose membership and interest has long been held in the highest regard. Others will be members of the public who we believe would welcome the opportunity of joining the Society and offering their support. We appeal to established members to continue to offer their invaluable support, we appeal to potential new members to join and persuade others to do likewise. We have some surprising and exciting programmes in store for the next couple of years.
Since early November the permanent staff have been joined by a large team of energetic, capable and enthusiastic temporary workers and a great deal of work has been accomplished with their aid and is, indeed, still being accomplished. A team of Student Community Programme workers under the leadership of John Blanken have excavated some 140m3 of compacted earth from under the south end of the gallery to create a new, badly needed, storage space some 20 x 7 metres. In order to gain access to this space it was necessary to cut a double door hole through a 43 centimetre thick, solid concrete wall This space is to be provided with a concrete floor, fluorescent lighting and connection to the heating and ventilating plant. In the next financial year we hope to add suspended steel and mesh frames (see iIlustration) the most commonly employed acceptable storage system When this is completed each work, whether on display or in storage, will have an allotted space, dramatically reducing the possibility of misplacing works, and of course, virtually eliminating the possibility of damage. It should be stressed that this is but a first step towards providing adequate service space.
Mark Dunstan and Tina Barton, under the leadership of Julian Bowron, have begun the monumental task of photographing the entire collection, attaching photographs to the accession cards and checking all accession records. This has resulted in the accessioning of much unaccessioned material and considerable revision of existing files. To date some 900 odd works including the entire 'Works on Paper' collection have been processed and in the course of it many prints of exceptional quality have been brought to the fore. As a result, we have decided to mount ten one month exhibitions from the 'Works on Paper' collection (currently being matted by Bruce Robinson and John Harper) during 1979. These will explore certain themes e g 'The Rural Landscape', 'Views of London ', Italian Cities', 'The Grand Tour', 'Dutch Printmaking', 'Hogarth-Cruikshank-Rowlandson', 'The Panoramic Landscape', etc. These will all be installed in the gallery beyond the Centre Court currently being refurbished as a print gallery by Philip Pigou and Graham Snowdon. John Harper, a trained conservator, has begun much needed conservation work on the collection, cleaning, revarnishing and restoring a number of oil paintings, and de-acidifying and cleaning many works from the 'Works on Paper' collection. We are hopeful that the McDougall will establish a small conservation facility in the near future which, when established, will accept a limited amount of private work in addition to the routine programme of caring for our own collection Graham Snowdon has been restoring sculptures by Carl Sydow (1940-1975) in preparation for the May, ‘Carl Sydow Memorial Exhibition ’, and Dr. Peter Lineham has completed invaluable work in ordering both the data collected by Carl, and retrieved from newspapers, catalogues, the Peter McLeavey Gallery, C.S.A., etc. in preparation for our exhibition catalogue. A new gallery map, a sign on the facade in the Botanical Gardens, gallery van signs, and a new foyer shop installation have been provided by Brent Friedauer and George Anderson. All in all thirteen temporary workers have been engaged through the generous provision of the Temporary Employment Programme and Student Community Programme. While we all lament the circumstances which have caused the current employment crisis the Government is to be congratulated for designing and implementing these schemes, without them and without the generous co-operation of the Department of Labour, these long overdue projects would have simply not been able to have been undertaken. I know that I speak for the permanent staff, and for the City Council, when I say how grateful we are for this assistance. It has been a period of hard work with a quite exceptional esprit de corps, a valuable experience for all concerned.