2011 Recipient - The Chartwell Trust

The Chartwell Trust was established in the early 1970s in Hamilton, having as its objective the promotion of the visual arts. There was a desire to promulgate knowledge and appreciation of developments in contemporary art practices and processes. Significant to the Trust was the need to facilitate and develop wide interest and respect for the thinking involved in making and viewing art.

The aims of the founding trustee Robert Gardiner, ONZM, from the Trust's inception, included assistance to the public gallery sector and to artists and art institutions in our community. There was an interest in benefiting the public by delivering access to and knowledge of the visual arts. Being involved in creating art assisted understandings of the thinking and actions involved. "The desire to understand art and its nature and purposes as a valuable human activity, and to assist others to do the same, has been an important and rewarding motivation for me," Gardiner says. "I have come to believe in the importance and potential of the creative visual thinking involved in art and the benefits it can deliver for a fulfilling and happy life experience. From the start, I perceived Chartwell as a community project and that's why it was set up as a charitable trust.

The Gardiners lived in the Hamilton suburb of Chartwell at the time the Trust was established and this was the source of the name Chartwell. The initial project was to help promote and build a permanent collection-based public art gallery in Hamilton. Until that was built, the early acquisitions to the Chartwell Collection, including paintings by WA Sutton and Pat Hanly, were placed on loan into the Waikato Museum's temporary premises. Chartwell's vision and its goals quickly broadened beyond this initial need for a new art gallery for Hamilton. The Trust's activities became centred around two major types of activities; the further development of the Chartwell Collection, principally a collection of contemporary works from New Zealand and Australia; and the development of a programme of philanthropy including significant donations to visual arts projects which are predominantly within the public gallery sector, (referred to as Chartwell Projects).

The Chartwell Trust Award for Patronage donations went to:

  • Fiona Connor (visual artist)
  • Auckland Art Gallery - Toi o Tāmaki
  • Christchurch Art Gallery - Te Puna o Waiwhetu
  • The University of Auckland - Te Whare Wānanga o Tāmaki Makaurau

Early Home for the Collection: 1982 to 1994:
In 1982 the Waikato Art Museum asked Chartwell to remove its collection as it was growing beyond the temporary storage facilities available. Chartwell then established the Centre for Contemporary Art (CFCA), in Hamilton, New Zealand, as the first permanent home for the Collection. It was developed in a building acquired for the purpose, the old Hamilton Hotel, the renovation of which included galleries for the CFCA, an exhibition programme and a space for the local art society and theatre company. The CFCA rapidly became a site for art discourse in New Zealand, with its programme of non-commercial New Zealand and Australian exhibitions. It provided a nationally significant alternative artspace and was committed to growing a local audience for contemporary art. An annual Chartwell Collection exhibition served to highlight new acquisitions from the Collection which increasingly included works by Australian artists rarely seen in New Zealand at the time. The annual new acquisition exhibitions provided opportunity to review the collecting process. Often visiting New Zealand for the first time, a number of Australian artists installed exhibitions at the gallery including Victor Majzner, John Nixon, Jenny Watson, Stephen Bram and Melinda Harper. Over thirteen years, approximately one hundred and fifty exhibitions were held at the gallery.

As Gardiner has said "Through this exhibition programme at CFCA, I came to better understand the work of particular artists and practices. The buying reflected my own understanding of the significance of an artwork in terms of its power to engage, its contribution to our art history and its value as a public resource. The process involved meeting professionals from the public gallery and education sectors, as well as artists and their dealers. Coming to know the works and having the knowledge, confidence and interest to buy them was essentially a creative imaginative act, something experienced by all viewers and collectors. I think of each acquisition and the collection as a whole as the cumulative effect of many such acts - as a statement in itself." In the early 90s, Chartwell entered into a new loan agreement for the Collection with the newly opened Waikato Museum of Art and History and the Collection transferred there. Two years later, in 1994, the exhibitions programme ceased at the CFCA and the building was sold. In 1997, the Collection was placed on long term loan to the Auckland Art Gallery, Toi o Tamaki.

The Collection in 2011:
Works are used by the Gallery in its exhibitions and are also available for curated exhibitions via loans to other public galleries. The Collection presently contains over 1200 works representing over 300 artists. It has a depth of holdings of particular artists and iconic works by artists such as Colin McCahon, Tony Tuckson (Aust), Emily Kame Kngwarreye (Aust), Gordon Walters, Rosalie Gascoigne (NZ/Aust), John Nixon (Aust) and Julian Dashper. With new acquisitions continuing, it provides a moving, constantly changing view of new developments in visual art practice. While the focus remains on New Zealand and Australian works, some relevant international acquisitions take place such as recent acquisitions by English artist Cornelia Parker and American artists Richard Tuttle, Paul Kos and Jessica Stockholder. In recent times, significant works have entered the collection by Australian artists John Nixon, David Thomas, Shaun Gladwell, Laresa Kosloff and Jonathan Jones while works by New Zealand artists working in Australia include Daniel von Sturmer and Daniel Crooks. Among the New Zealand artists recently represented in the collection are Daniel Malone, Kate Newby, Alex Montieth, Fiona Connor, Dane Mitchell, Alicia Frankovich and Ben Cauchi. There is a significant drawings collection and a growing video art collection.

Works from the Chartwell Collection have been on loan over the years to many public art institutions including Dunedin Public Art Gallery; Waikato Art Museum, City Gallery, Wellington; National Gallery of Australia; Te Manawa Art Gallery, Palmerston North; The New Dowse, Wellington; Lopdell House Gallery, Titirangi and Christchurch Art Gallery. The Chartwell website provides a full catalogue of works in the collection.

Chartwell Projects:
Chartwell primarily supports art projects which provide opportunities for the encouragement of understanding about art within the public art sector and the wider community. These projects have ranged from exhibition support, publication funding and support of public gallery education programmes. Projects are supported as they are seen to relate to Chartwell's core beliefs and vision.
At the heart of this vision is a commitment to the significance of the visual arts as an engine for general idea generation. As a result Chartwell celebrates:

  • The achievements of visual artists and the importance of their creative visual thinking, the recognition of the art object/concept as a deliberate provocation to the imagining sense based perceiving mind, and increasing understandings of the psychological and conceptual benefits available to everyone via the visual arts.
  • The public art gallery as a centre for visual art access and development for both artists and audience. 
  • The contribution of the visual arts to growing the culture and enriching society, including recognition of the importance of education as a continuing process of value to the wider community. There is a need to grow the general public audience through better understandings of contemporary art practice and respect for the efficacy of the material aesthetic context in exercising and developing the creative mind.

Examples of Chartwell Projects:
In support of visual artists and the facilitation of creative thinking, Chartwell has supported a number of individual artist's projects in New Zealand and Australia and, in recent years, major public exhibition programmes such as the Auckland Triennial, the Biennale of Sydney, the Venice Biennale since 2002 and Judy Millar's inclusion in the 2011 Venice Biennale off-site project, the Massey University - based One Day Sculpture national series of public art events, Scape Biennial of Public Art, Christchurch, and other exhibition development programmes. Of particular note is the support of the project curated by Natasha Conland that took place in 2009 as part of the One Day Sculpture Project - involving Italian artist Paola Pivi, titled I Wish I Am Fish. Also significant was the project by Mexican artist Hector Zamora, as part of the 2011 Auckland Arts Festival, curated by Ariane Craig-Smith, titled White Noise, and the support of the Anthony McCall and Play On exhibitions at the Adam Art Gallery, Wellington. Chartwell has been the supporter of two recent exhibitions at Christchurch Art Gallery, titled White on White (2009) and Blue Planet (2010-11). Both of these projects celebrated imaginative art making and thinking and were shaped with younger audiences in mind. In its support of the development of the public art gallery sector, Chartwell was a benefactor of the New Gallery, the Auckland Art Gallery, Toi o Tamaki, including its exhibitions and its own collection ; a major supporter to the Auckland Art Gallery Foundation, a founding benefactor of the Adam Art Gallery, Victoria University, Wellington, a major Govett- Brewster Foundation supporter, New Plymouth; the McCahon House and Studio development, Titirangi; the Dowse, Lower Hutt, St Pauls St Gallery, Auckland, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney and Gertrude Contemporary in Melbourne as well as support for artist run spaces such as Gambia Castle, Auckland and Enjoy Gallery, Wellington.

Education and publishing programmes have been supported at many levels within the public gallery sector as well as in association with publishers such as Clouds Publishing and Auckland University Press (AUP). There has been considerable support of exhibition development, programmes and publications in association with projects initiated by independent curators and artists. Support has also been given for a number of exhibition monographs and books on New Zealand art history such as Towards A Promised Land - On the life and art of Colin McCahon by Gordon Brown. Working with partners AUP, Artspace Auckland and Ron Sang Publications, Chartwell has donated five art publications, plus posters and teacher resource material over the last five years to schools in New Zealand as well as donations of class sets to the school library service at the National Library of New Zealand.

Chartwell is delighted to receive an Award for Patronage from the Arts Foundation of New Zealand which is doing so much to raise awareness of the value of private charitable support for the arts in this country. Through such agency new possibilities for the human imagination, grounded in thinking via all the senses becomes possible, along with expectations of expanding support from Central and Local Government. In this way, our New Zealand cultural life will be enriched, resulting in expanded pride and understandings of ourselves and others.  Rob Gardiner.

Read citation by Chris Saines (Director, the Auckland Art Gallary) made at the Award for Patronage announcement on 11 October 2011 - here.