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Auckland Art Fair's Triumphant Return

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.

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


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

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

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

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

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