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Prestigious Appointment for Art Gallery Director

14 June 2005


Prestigious International Appointment for Taranaki Art Gallery Director

The director of one of Australasia’s leading contemporary art museums, the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, has been appointed to head a major international gallery in Canada.

In August Greg Burke will leave New Plymouth for the Power Plant, a contemporary visual art gallery that is an integral part of Harbourfront Centre – Canada’s largest multidisciplinary arts centre which attracts 12 million visitors a year.

New Plymouth District Council chief executive Rodger Kerr-Newell says while he is sorry to see Mr Burke leave New Zealand, the appointment is a prestigious one that reflects his immense talent.

“During Greg’s seven years at the Govett-Brewster he has continued to build its reputation as a leading contemporary art museum on the world stage: one that is highly respected for the quality and diversity of its exhibitions.

“Under Greg’s directorship the gallery has increased visitor numbers while continuing to explore the potentialities of contemporary art, particularly in the Pacific region. I have no doubt that Greg will continue to do great things when he takes up his new role in Canada,” he says.

Mr Burke says: “It is very rare indeed that a New Zealander is appointed to a major international art directorship, let alone one from a regional gallery. While I am honoured by this recognition, the appointment is also a reflection of the international regard for the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery including the great team who work there and former directors and staff.

“Our collective achievements could not have been possible without the vision and tremendous support of the New Plymouth District Council and community. I am absolutely confident that this will continue and that the Govett-Brewster will go from strength to strength.

“As much as I am very happy at the Govett-Brewster the new position will open up new challenges and experiences for me, which is exciting to say the least,” he says.

Mr Burke’s last day at the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery will be August 12. During his career he has gained many achievements, including:

· New Zealand Commissioner for the 2005 Venice Biennale.

· The first New Zealander to become a member of CIMAM (International Committee of ICOM (International Council of Museums) for Museums and Collections of Modern Art), in October 2004.

· One of 12 presenters at the major biannual APEX (New York) conference on international contemporary art in 2004.

· Developed the record-breaking Japanese contemporary art exhibition Mediarena: contemporary art from Japan in March 2004.

· Curator of New Zealand’s first national presentation at the Venice Biennale in 2001.

· The first New Zealander to become a member of IKT (International Association of Curators of Contemporary Art), in 1992.

The Govett-Brewster Art Gallery has a reputation for launching major careers in the art world. Among its former directors are Cheryll Sotheran, who went on to be CEO of Te Papa and is currently director of the creative industries sector at New Zealand Trade and Enterprise; John McCormack, governor of the Arts Foundation of New Zealand; and Priscilla Pitts, who became the manager of the Museums Business Unit at Dunedin City Council.

NPDC general manager customer services Barbara McKerrow says the council will start searching nationally and internationally for a director with the ability to enhance the gallery’s reputation as a leading contemporary art museum in the South Pacific, as per the Monica Brewster Trust Deed.

“The Govett-Brewster has a unique role in Taranaki: exploring international developments in modern art, providing inspiration for artists, provoking discussion among the general public and attracting visitors from outside the region.

“After Mr Burke’s departure the gallery’s deputy director will continue to implement the planned programme while we search for a new director who will lead the Govett-Brewster to new heights in the coming years.

“The Govett-Brewster is one of the jewels of Taranaki, and New Plymouth District Council will ensure it retains that pride of place,” says Mrs McKerrow.

· The Power Plant has won international attention for consistently presenting the highest level of contemporary art activity, and offers a continually challenging series of exhibitions of the finest work on the international scene. The directorship is considered a challenging and high-profile position in one of Canada’s finest arts institutions.


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