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Young director to head Portrait Gallery

Young director to head Portrait Gallery

Gaelen Macdonald, 35, has been named as Director of the New Zealand Portrait Gallery, on the Wellington waterfront, from December 1.

The appointment marks a generational change at the helm of one of the country’s most popular art venues, as she succeeds Avenal McKinnon, who is retiring after more than nine years.

Gaelen has acquired an impressive artistic record after graduating as a Master of Fine Arts with First Class Honours from Elam. She worked for two years in Auckland as archivist and studio manager for renowned portrait photographer Marti Friedlander and has been director of Wellington’s Pablo’s Art Studios for the last six years.

Although she specialised early on in sculpture, she says she has a personal interest in portraiture, stemming from studying photograph albums of distant family members in the UK.

“My two main passions are people and art,” Gaelen says. “I’m really looking forward to encouraging people to have an art experience at the gallery.”

In her time, Avenal McKinnon saw the Portrait Gallery expand its permanent collection from six works to more than 200 and move into dedicated premises in Shed 11 on Queen’s Wharf.

Keith Ovenden, chairman of the gallery’s management board, said: “Avenal has done a splendid job in developing the gallery and putting it on a professional footing. We are greatly looking forward to working with Gaelen through the
next phase of our growth and development in the years to come.”

ends

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