Gallery Leadership Team
Kirsten Paisley – Director
Kirsten joined the Gallery as Director in April, 2019. With Masters degrees in Art History and Curatorship, as well as Business Administration, Kirsten has an in-depth understanding of the discourse of art theory and museology and a track record in brand development, financial management and organisational performance.
She began her career as an artist, completing her studies at Victorian College of the Arts to set up an artist-run gallery in Melbourne and working in important contemporary organisations such as Heide MoMA and Australian Centre for Contemporary Art. This has brought a unique appreciation of the skills and attributes a wide range of artists bring to a gallery, along with an understanding of the art-making, materials, processes and preoccupations of artists past and present.
Kirsten went on to the world of commercial galleries, developing first-hand experience in what she terms “the machinations of the art market” and honing her eye for great art. She has curated for the Art Gallery of Ballarat and Shepparton Art Gallery, held the Director role with Shepparton Art Museum for eight years and Deputy Director role with the National Gallery of Australia for over three years.
Kirsten has also been Vice President and Committee Member for the Public Galleries Association of Victoria and has judged several art prizes throughout her career.
Executive Assistant to the Director: Valerie Shannon
Sarah Farrar – Head of Curatorial and Exhibitions
Sarah joined the Gallery in December 2018 after eight years in the curatorial team at Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, with the last six years as Senior Curator Art. She has previously held curatorial positions at City Gallery Wellington and is a graduate of the prestigious De Appel Curatorial Programme in the Netherlands. She has recently submitted a PhD in Curatorial Practice at Monash University, Melbourne.
Sarah led major art projects at Te Papa, including the curatorial development of Ngā Toi | Arts Te Papa and she was the lead curator for Toi Art. Her other exhibitions have included Warhol: Immortal and Meridian Lines: Contemporary Art from New Zealand. In addition to curatorial work, Sarah has been a member of Creative New Zealand’s NZ at Venice project team and Wellington City Council’s Public Art Panel, and contributed essays and articles to peer-reviewed journals, international art magazines and museum publications.
Justine McLisky – Head of Public Engagement
Justine joined the Gallery in late January 2019, heading up the strategic direction of learning, outreach, public programmes and digital content, and leading the development of new and diverse audiences from Auckland and beyond through community partnerships, projects and initiatives.
Justine brings 25 years experience in cultural learning provision. She was Head of Young People at National Portrait Gallery, London, from 2009, leading strategic and consultative approaches for, and with, 3-21-year-old audiences including schools, families and young people 14-21. She has been a keynote speaker at conferences and seminars internationally, sharing sector practice in Spain, Australia and Brazil. Previously, she worked at Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, and City Gallery, Wellington, encouraging new and diverse audiences to access the institutions, and their collections and exhibitions. Justine was also a secondary art teacher and a practicing artist.
Sue Sinclair – Head of Advancement and Sponsorship
Sue has extensive experience in building global and national networks, creating partnerships and developing long term stakeholder relationships. In her role as Head of Advancement, she has overarching responsibility for corporate sponsorship, membership, fundraising and philanthropy, stakeholder management and strategic partnerships.
Prior to her current role, Sue built a global network of influential New Zealand expatriates as part of the Kea World Class New Zealand Network, which exists to enhance and support New Zealand’s international reputation, business, innovation and connectivity. She also has deep experience in event management and fundraising.
Gallery Curatorial Team
Ron Brownson – Senior Curator, New Zealand and Pacific Art
Ron has worked at the Gallery for over 40 years.
Among Ron's many exhibition and publication projects are: John Kinder’s New Zealand, Local Revolutionaries: Art & Change 1965–1986 (with Mary Kisler), Partner Dance: Gifts from the Patrons of the Gallery (with Natasha Conland), Choi Jeong Hwa Flower Chandelier, Te Wā Tōiri: Fluid Horizons, Home AKL – artists of Pacific Heritage at Auckland (with Kolokesa Mahina Tuai, Nina Tonga and Ema Tavola), Kinder’s Presence: John Kinder, Mark Adams, Chis Corson Scott, Haruhiko Sameshima, Robert Ellis – Turangawaewae: A Place to Stand, Ralph Hotere’s Godwit Kuaka, The Extra Ordinary Everyday in New Zealand Art, Len Casbolt – From Soft Focus to Sharp Vision, Seeing Moana Oceania, Fa’ani and RoBro present DiscoVERY and A Place to Paint: Colin McCahon in Auckland, 2019. He also edited ART TOI – New Zealand art in the collection of Auckland Art Gallery, a comprehensive overview of New Zealand artworks
Dr Sophie Matthiesson – Senior Curator International Art
Sophie’s past curatorial projects include Modern Britain (2007), Salvador Dalí (2009), Monet’s Garden (2013), Degas: A New Vision (2016) and Van Gogh: The Seasons (2017).
Natasha Conland – Curator, Contemporary Art
Natasha has over nineteen years’ experience developing exhibitions of contemporary art. She writes for a number of contemporary arts journals and catalogues in the Asia Pacific region and co-edits Reading Room, a peer-reviewed journal of contemporary art published annually by the E.H. McCormick Research Library, Auckland Art Gallery. She has diverse interests which have focused over this period on art in public space and the dissemination of the historic avant-garde.
Selected recent and notable exhibitions include the international group show Mystic Truths (2007), Last Ride in a Hot Air Balloon: the 4th Auckland Triennial (2010); Made Active: The Chartwell Show (2012); A Puppet A Pauper A Pirate A Poet A Pawn & A King: From the Naomi Milgrom Art Collection (2013); Necessary Distraction: A Painting Show (2016) Shout Whisper Wail (2017), Groundswell: Avant Garde Auckland: 1971-79 (2018).
Nigel Borell – Curator, Māori Art
Nigel Borell's (Pirirakau, Ngāti Ranginui, Ngāi Te Rangi and Te Whakatōhea tribal descent) research focus is in both customary and contemporary Māori art that is produced for publication and exhibition making.
He holds a Bachelor of Māori Visual Art (Hons) from Massey University (2001) and a Master of Fine Art (Hons) The University of Auckland (2003). Recent curatorial projects include: co-curating with Zara Stanhope The Moa Hunters by Areta Wilkinson, for 9th Asia Pacific Triennial, QAGOMA, Brisbane (2018) and The Māori Portraits: Gottfried Lindauer’s New Zealand, at the Auckland Art Gallery (2016) and deYoung Fine Arts Museum, San Francisco (2017).
Julia Waite – Curator, New Zealand Art
Julia’s research interests are focused on the development of modern art in New Zealand, global modernisms and documentary photography. She has a Masters in Art History from the University of Auckland (First Class Honours), a Masters of Museum and Heritage Studies from Victoria University, and a Bachelor of Arts (Honours: First Class) in Art History from the University of Otago.
In 2017, Julia co-curated Gordon Walters: New Vision and, in 2015, Freedom and Structure: Cubism and New Zealand Art 1930-1960, both touring exhibitions with associated publications.
Emma Jameson – Assistant Curator, International and New Zealand Historic Art
Emma's areas of expertise include seventeenth-century Dutch art, seventeenth-century portraiture and nineteenth-century New Zealand photography. Current areas of research focus on the construction of narratives in nineteenth-century New Zealand photographic albums, the history of the Gallery’s collection of seventeenth-century Dutch paintings and prints, and the commercial aspects of the seventeenth-century French print market.