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Business School attracts PM and Wallace artworks

Business School attracts PM and Wallace artworks

An outstanding work by New Zealand’s pre-eminent landscape painter Sir Toss Woollaston is one of 89 works to adorn AUT University’s new Business School, being officially opened by Prime Minister Helen Clark this Friday.

Woollaston (1910-1998) was knighted for services to art in 1979. His painting is on loan to AUT from the Wallace Arts Trust, which holds the largest collection of his work.

Around 6000 students and staff will enjoy the collection which is exhibited throughout the 10-storey Business School on the corner of Wakefield Street and Mayoral Drive in Auckland.

On Friday, Helen Clark joins MPs, dignitaries, business leaders and academics to formally open the university’s showcase Business School and enjoy the artwoks.

AUT’s newest building has been put forward for a New Zealand Institute of Architects (NZIA) Local Award in the education category. It features 37 classrooms, two case/lecture rooms and seven seminar rooms over 10,000m² of purpose-built space.

Each teaching floor has wireless online access, and classrooms are equipped with data shows, document cameras, DVD and VCR players, surround sound, guest laptop capabilities and individual laptops for the students. The fully integrated systems are operated from a touch pad control panel fitted to the lecturer desk.

Prominent New Zealand art patron James Wallace, who will attend the launch, says it is totally appropriate that an innovative business school is the home of visual art. He is pleased to add this newest audience for his collection.

“To live without art is to miss out on a vital dimension of life, to not have one of the senses. It is like cows who are so busy grazing they don't look up to see or react to a sunrise.”

James Wallace began collecting New Zealand artists’ works in the mid-1960s. Today, the Wallace Arts Trust collection numbers some 4500 works, which are lent to institutions throughout the country. Artworks are already on loan throughout AUT’s two campuses.

He believes exposure to contemporary visual arts is a life priority. His collection is born of his passionate belief that supporting the arts is fundamental to existence.

“We have found that there is a tremendously positive response to the permanent revolving loans we have made to some 20 institutions,” he says. “They range from performing arts centres, where people have come for another discipline, to creative institutions, such as centres for research or learning.”

AUT Faculty of Business Dean, Professor Des Graydon says with more than 6000 people in the building each week the works have maximum exposure.

“This is a superb building designed by Jasmax and the art will have a stunning impact on a large audience.”

He says the school’s programmes – in accounting, business economics, commercial law, finance, international business, management, marketing and advertising – are designed to encourage creativity in a business context.

“Being surrounded by art will open students up to new ideas and different ways of seeing. These are things that best prepare them for the demands of professional work in business.”

He says the design of the school’s classrooms deliver AUT’s student-centred learning teaching philosophy.

“Our students sit facing each other not in lecture theatre rows with 400 other people. It mirrors the real world of business which is about integration and relationships.”

Wallace Arts Trust curator Julian Harrison says business creativity and artistic creativity are aligned and the loan to the AUT Business School is a perfect fit.

“Business and arts are increasingly having more to do with each other,” he says. “It is now usual for business foyers to feature prominent art works. We are excited about the interesting and provocative mix of art chosen for the business school.”

Julian Harrison says exposure to the collection will make the study environment more pleasant and give students, staff and visitors a taste of visual arts.

“It is an exceptional space to exhibit the collection. Many walls have an exterior perspective as well as interior. The building design allows for art to be seen through exterior walls on multiple levels,” he says. “Many works are placed where there’s a high turnover of foot traffic so everyone will get a chance to view them.”


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