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Art Exhibition Explores Leadership

Art Exhibition Explores Leadership

A forthcoming exhibition at The University of Auckland explores the role of leadership in New Zealand and draws attention to portraiture as an important but often-overlooked genre.

The Power of Portraiture is curated by Erin Griffey, a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Art History in the Faculty of Arts. The landmark exhibition features portraits painted between 1847 and 2006 of some of this country’s most important and influential leaders.

The exhibition is timed to coincide with the 7th International Conference on Studying Leadership, to be hosted at The University of Auckland Business School in December.

Dr Griffey says the exhibition is the first show in New Zealand—if not the world— dedicated to formal painted portraits. Artists include a ‘who’s who’ of both British and New Zealand expertise, including Gottfried Lindauer, Bill Sutton, Peter McIntyre and Sir Edward Halliday, an official royal artist. Strongly interdisciplinary in nature, the exhibition illustrates power as articulated, justiῦied, negotiated ῡnd confirmed through the painted portrait.

“As far as we are aware, there has never been an exhibition linking leadership with art in New Zealand before and, as portraiture has been historically integral to showcasing power, we believe it is an ideal time to celebrate those who have a shared identity as leaders,” says Dr Griffey.

The wide-ranging collection comprises some 40 portraits of major public figures, male and female, Maori and Pakeha, conservative and liberal, from a number of different professional backgrounds. Portrait subjects include Queen Victoria, former Prime Minister The Rt Hon Jenny Shipley, Sir Edmund Hillary, double Victoria Cross recipient Captain Charles Upham and former Governor-General Sir Paul Reeves.

Professor Brad Jackson, The Fletcher Building Education Trust Chair in Leadership says the eclectic mix of subjects have something in common - they all had a cause they stood for, something they worked diligently and persistently toward.

“New Zealanders have tended to be more circumspect about the prospect and promise of heroic leadership, and while we evidentially value success we don’t always value those who have become successful. This exhibition, however, will give both international and local visitors a rare and valuable opportunity to examine their assumptio΅s about what constitutes effective leadership, says Professor Jackson.

After the exhibition closes in Auckland, it will be installed at the New Zealand Portrait Gallery in Wellington.

The Power of Portraiture will be mounted at The University of Auckland’s Gus Fisher Gallery (www.gusfishergallery.auckland.ac.nz ) from 28 November 2008- 24 January 2009.

The exhibition will open at the New Zealand Portrait Gallery, Shed 11 on Wellington’s Customhouse Quay (www.wellingtonwaterfront.co.nz) from 26 February 2009- 4 April 2009.

The Power of Portraiture is supported by The Fletcher Building Employee Education Fund, The University of Auckland’s Business School and Faculty of Arts, Excelerator: New Zealand Leadership Institute, and the Reserve Bank Museum.


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