Ruth Buchanan artist project: The Curtain


exhibition Details

The Auckland Art Gallery is a complicated place, having undergone renovations, additions and splits constantly in its 125 years. The biography of the building is a veritable glossary of spatial propositions.

The 1950s were no exception. This period included the boxing in of pilasters, the covering of ornamented ceilings, the adding of a curved staircase, a mezzanine, a stage and a large glazed doorway placed between what were then known as the Mackelvie and the City Galleries. Along with the structural changes of the time came the curtain.

Commissioned by Peter Tomory, the curtain was produced by Ilse von Randow (1901–1998) in a weaving room at her home in Blockhouse Bay following the termination of her occupancy of the Gallery's tower as a studio. Woven on multiple looms simultaneously and then hand-stitched together the curtain was made in just four months and hung over the glazed doorway in the autumn of 1958.

The curtain remained in this location for approximately a decade; it was probably removed just prior to the Gallery once again preparing for further major renovations. Details about who managed its custodianship following its removal from the Gallery, or if there were plans for it to be rehung, are scant. Today the curtain is kept on large rolls in the Auckland War Memorial Museum's storage facility.

The Curtain is produced as part of an artist project by Ruth Buchanan, realised while she was the McCahon House Artist in Residence in 2012–2013.

The items included are courtesy of E H McCormick Research Library, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, Douglas Lloyd Jenkins, Auckland City Council Archives and Ruth Buchanan.

Curated by
Catherine Hammond, Caroline McBride
Mezzanine level display case
Free entry

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