Art in the Antipodes: Auckland Art Gallery

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Mexicali Cindy and American Julie at Auckland Art Gallery

When in Auckland I love to mooch around the Central Business District (CBD). Some of my favorite shops are in Britomart and on High Street including Unity Books and Pauanesia. There are too many good restaurants to list them. So when I read about the Colin McCahon exhibit, described in Mindfood magazine as best New Zealand artist, I asked my friend Cindy if she wanted to check it out with me. Queen Street is always evolving, but a few mainstays of the CBD are the central library and the Auckland Art Gallery.

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Colin McCahon was a resident artist at the gallery starting in 1953.

The Gallery holds a permanent collection that celebrates western art and New Zealand’s art scene. This is the first time I didn’t spend time gazing at the Charles Goldie portraits of Maori elders. They also have guest shows, and because they are in the antipodes (other side of the world) they can take awhile to get there. Nevertheless, Cindy and I were delighted to take in “Guerrilla Girls: Reinventing the “F” Word – Feminism.” It sparked a great conversation about the challenges of being a business woman of our generation.

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Still frustratingly true.

When you enter the Gallery on the ground floor, you can quickly pay admission and proceed up to the next level to enjoy the beautiful kauri-lined gallery. I am always pleasantly surprised by the installations from the high ceiling. This visit was no different. I loved the intricate cardboard sculptures by Isabel and Alfredo Aquilizan, “Pillars: Project Another Country.”

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Auckland Art Gallery admission is free for Auckland residents, for international visitors the fee is $17 NZ for seniors and students, and $20 NZ for adults. They have a solid museum cafe and small bookshop. Open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. except Christmas Day.

 

Exploring Auckland’s Central Business District

We arrived in Auckland very early one morning. Our Air New Zealand flight arrived ahead of schedule¬†and customs are a breeze in Auckland International. We rented our car from A2B, drove to St Heliers, ate breakfast at Kahve, freshened up at a friends and then drove to Auckland’s central business district (CBD).

Tevis and Sarah Harriet on way to St. Heliers.
Tevis and Sarah Harriet on way to St. Heliers.

We dropped our car with the valet at Britomart (between the shopping center and transit center), and walked around Britomart and into Milse for exquisite dessert.

One of the many yummy desserts at Milse in Auckland CBD at Britomart (the shopping center, not the transit center).
One of the many yummy desserts at Milse in Auckland CBD at Britomart (the shopping center, not the transit center).
Marcos and Sarah Harriet enjoying frozen desserts at Milse.
Marcos and Sarah Harriet enjoying frozen desserts at Milse.

Afterward we walked up Queen Street and High Street stopping at shops along the way–always Unity bookstore. Then over to Sky Tower. We paused to watch some brave/crazy souls ride a slingshot kind of bungee (except Sarah who could not bear it). Then we walked round to the Auckland Art Gallery and stopped for a cup of tea at the cafe. After seeing the Goldie Maori portraits and then back toward the Quay.

Bicycle sculpture at Queen and Quay Streets.
Bicycle sculpture at Queen and Quay Streets.
Rock archway leading to Queen Victoria Park.
Rock archway leading to Queen Victoria Park.

Our day was fun, relaxing and a great way to ease into a new time zone. One of the great things about visiting New Zealand at the end of November is the long days of light.