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Sale of artwork from museum a win-win

Tairawhiti Museum is one of the few public galleries that makes artwork available to buy. When someone buys from an exhibition the purchase helps support the artist, the museum and local businesses such as framers and glaziers, says museum director Eloise Wallace.

Entry to the museum and art gallery exhibitions is free to locals and that generosity has now been extended in Level 2 to visitors. But as with many businesses in this post-lockdown climate, Tairawhiti Museum needs to ease some of the economic strain brought about by lost revenue. Sales of artworks, such as most of Gisborne artist Zoe Alford's pastel landscapes exhibited in the show East, Of The Sun, help not just the artist but the museum and the local arts economy, says Mrs Wallace.

“Selling artworks in public museums is unusual, but it's always worked well for the museum and we see it as a win-win. Every year we hold a number of selling exhibitions by local contemporary artists as part of our programme. It's not only a great way to support artists but it's also a way for people to enjoy having an original art work at home or at work, at an affordable price.”

Arts patron Jack Richards and partner Won Gyu bought one of Zoe Alford's works for themselves, one for the museum collection and have commissioned a new work by the artist.

“Tairawhiti Museum contributes so much to the cultural life it's important to support them through purchases and commissions,” says Professor Richards.

“We very much like Zoe's work. We'd never seen it before. The piece we bought for the museum was a view from our street. The one we bought for ourselves is a rural scene with a farm cottage. The colour and composition is beautiful.”

While visitors to the museum and gallery also help support its cafe and shop, individuals, families or businesses can become a Friend of the Museum which entitles them to 10 percent discounts on purchases from selling exhibitions and tax deductions.

“They make a purchase that supports the museum; they get a discount and they get a beautiful artwork,” says Mrs Wallace.“That's the best part.”

THE ART ECONOMY: When someone like arts patron Jack Richards (second right) and Won Gyu (right) buy an artwork, the purchase helps support not just the artist but businesses that contribute to the art economy, says museum director Eloise Wallace (left). They are pictured with Zoe Alford and one of two paintings of hers that Mr Richards and his partner have bought. They have also commissioned Mrs Alford to paint another. Picture by Dudley Meadows