Auckland Art Fair's Triumphant Return

I had no idea what to expect from my visit this week to the Auckland Art Fair (AAF). I’ve never even been to New Zealand, and art events can sometimes make me feel like a bit of a philistine outsider who accidentally wandered into the wrong place for a glass of champagne.

Given the picturesque surrounds and its progressive history (shout out to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern for being the youngest head of government in the world AND eight months pregnant!), it should come as no surprise that New Zealand is home to a relatively small but thriving arts scene.

Although I was mistaken for a waitress (no offence taken), the AAF had a real feeling of community, and there was a sense as the event launches annually this year, the ante had been well and truly upped.

Sally Tabart

Photo – courtesy of Auckland Art Fair.

Sally Tabart
24th of May 2018

The Auckland Art Fair saw big local and international artists like Patricia Piccinini (Aus), Jess Johnson (NZ) and Taro Shinoda (Tokyo) from established galleries sit alongside young entrepreneurial up-and-comers, all in standard-issue booths, and the combination made for a diverse and impressive spread. With more than 45 galleries and 180 artists from nine countries, the Auckland Art Fair, which will now operate annually going forward, seeks to position itself as the definitive showcase of contemporary art for art-lovers and collectors in the Pacific Rim.

At a swanky event for collectors, artists, gallerists (and somehow me) the night before the opening, Hayley White and Stephanie Post, the Fair’s directors, were ticking off each guest’s name themselves at the door. ‘That’s so Auckland’, I heard someone behind me fondly remark. Everyone seems to be rooting for one another in New Zealand, and I think it’s this accessibility combined with profound artistic talent that uniquely positions the AAF as a cultural force to be reckoned with in the Asia-Pacific.

Grace Wright, installation view of the Parlour Projects stand at Auckland Art Fair 2018. Photo – Matt Hunt.

Artwork by Ed Bats.Photo – Sam Hartnett.

Artwork by Ed Bats. Photo – Sam Hartnett.

Installation of artworks by Ed Bats Photo – Sam Hartnett.

Artwork by Ed Bats. Photo – Sam Hartnett.

Artwork by Ed Bats. Photo – Sam Hartnett.

1. Parlour Projects

This new gallery was established only two years ago in Hawke’s Bay (on the east coast of the North Island) by young gallerist Sophie Wallace. ‘I keep saying “we”, but it’s kind of just me!’ Sophie laughs when we’re chatting about her gallery, Parlour Projects. Presenting three emerging artists at the AAF (Ben Pearce, Ed Bats and Grace Wright), Sophie’s contemporary eye injects a real sense of youthfulness amongst some of the more established galleries and artists.

Oh – and the fact that she’d painted the walls of her white booth our favourite dusty pink didn’t influence me at all.

Artist to see: Ed Bats.

Parlour Projects
360 Eastbourne Street East,
Hawke’s Bay
New Zealand

Virginia Leonard artworks in installation view of the Paulnache stand at Auckland Art Fair 2018. Photo – Matt Hunt.

Virginia Leonard artwork. Photo – courtesy of PAULNACHE.

Virginia Leonard artwork. Photo – courtesy of PAULNACHE.


In my research prior to AAF, Virginia Leonard’s conceptual clay and resin sculptures at Gisborne’s PAULNACHE were at the top of my list to see. Massive, gnarly and yet delicate, these pieces remind me of a large-scale, solidified drip castle all kids make at the beach in ultra-bright and shiny hues, like ancient relics of some faraway kingdom.

Operating since 2009, PAULNACHE is an unconventional gallery run by director Matthew Nache that seeks to blur the lines between ‘public and private gallery, between dealer and curator, house style and punk attitude’. Rock on.

Artist to see: Virginia Leonard

Upstairs 89 Grey Street
Aotearoa New Zealand

Emma McIntyre artworks in installation view of the Hopkinson Mossman stand at Auckland Art Fair 2018. Photo – Matt Hunt.

Emma McIntyre artwork. Photo – courtesy of Hopkinson Mossman.

Emma McIntyre artwork. Photo – courtesy of Hopkinson Mossman.

3. Hopkinson Mossman

Despite its relative youth, Hopkinson Mossman is a contemporary art gallery that maintains an international profile, representing some of New Zealand’s most prominent and promising up-and-coming artists. Sarah Hopkinson and Danae Mossman are at the helm of the gallery, and created a contemporary display to house the works of their artists.

One of them is 27-year-old Emma McIntyre (the granddaughter of renowned landscape painter Peter McIntyre), whose modernist works in refined, sunset palettes have earned her the reputation of one-to-watch.

Artist to see: Emma McIntyre

Hopkinson Mossman
Level 1, 19 Putiki St
Arch Hill
New Zealand

Glenn Barkley ‘here and now not forever’, 2018 earthenware, 38x17x17cm. Photo – courtesy of Sullivan+Strumpf.

Glenn Barkley ‘leave me a little love’, 2017 earthenware, 15x15x10cm. Photo – courtesy of Sullivan+Strumpf.

Glenn Barkley ‘pox group’, 2018 earthenware, dimensions variable. Photo – courtesy of Sullivan+Strumpf.

Glenn Barkley, ‘large pot with extruded floor carbuncles’, 2018, earthenware, 24x16x11.5 cm. Photo – courtesy of Sullivan+Strumpf.

Glenn Barkley, ‘i may i might i must’, 2018, earthenware, 36x36x22cm. Photo – courtesy of Sullivan+Strumpf.

4. Sullivan+Strumpf

With outposts in both Sydney and Singapore, Sullivan+Strumpf brings with them an eclectic stable of artists across a range of different mediums.

Some of the stand-out sculptural works of the fair for me were the wild, wacky and intricately detailed vessels of Glenn Barkley, an Australian artist, curator and writer based in Sydney whose work ‘operates in the space between these interests, drawing upon ceramics deep history, to popular song, the garden and conversations about art and the internet.’

Stay tuned for our upcoming studio visit with Glenn Barkley, coming next month!

Artist to see: Glenn Barkley

799 Elizabeth St
Sydney, NSW

Lottie Consalvo’s ‘But You Told Me Not To Cry In It’s Presence’ 2018, 150x240cm, acrylic on board, alongside ‘I Can’t Even Tell You What It Looked Like’ 2018, 180x120cm, acrylic on board. Photo – Matt Hunt.

Lottie Consalvo, installation view of DOMINIK MERSCH GALLERY stand at Auckland Art Fair 2018. Photo – Matt Hunt.

5. Dominik Mersch

Founded in 2006, Dominik Mersch is a Sydney-based gallery that prides itself on representing artists with exceptional skill and conceptual prowess. One such artist, Lottie Consalvo (who is currently exhibiting her solo show, In theRemembering, at Heide Museum), has seen remarkable success over the last five years of her lifelong practice. Often engaging in performative rituals to realise her ideas, Lottie’s works cuts right to the heart of human experience.

Artist to see: Lottie Consavlo. 

Dominik Mersch
1/75 McLachlan Avenue
Rushcutters Bay
Sydney, NSW

Shane Cotton’s ‘Untitled’, 201’8, acrylic on paper, 70×50.5cm. Photo – courtesy of the artist and Michael Lett Gallery.

Shane Cotton’s ‘Untitled’, 2018, acrylic on paper, 29.7x21cm. Image – courtesy of the artist and Michael Lett Gallery.

Shane Cotton’s ‘Untitled’, 2018, acrylic on paper, 29.7x21cm. Image – courtesy of the artist and Michael Lett Gallery.

Shane Cotton, Untitled, 2018, acrylic on paper, 700 x 505mm. Image – courtesy the artist and Michael Lett Gallery.

6. Michael Lett

Opening his first gallery at the age of 25 (!), Michael Lett is know to be one of the most prolific art dealers in New Zealand, representing some of country’s finest contemporary talent.

Shane Cotton is a household name in the New Zealand art world, with works in major collections including the National Gallery of Australia, National Gallery of Victoria and the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa. Of dual Maori and Pakeha descent, Shane’s work deals with themes of colonisation, identity and the tension of biculturalism.

Artist to see: Shane Cotton.

Michael Lett
312 Karangahape Road
Cnr K Rd & East St
New Zealand


The  Auckland Art Fair brings together 45 galleries showcasing 150 artists from all across the Pacific Rim. Tickets available here.

Thursday 24 May 11am-5pm
Friday 25 May 11am-5pm
Saturday 26 May 10am-5pm
Sunday 27 May 10am-5pm

Friday 25 May 5pm-9pm

The Cloud, 89 Quay Street
Auckland 1010

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