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City Gallery pays tribute to Sir James Fletcher

30 August

City Gallery Wellington pays tribute to a great arts patron
Sir James Fletcher 1914 - 2007

Sir James Fletcher, who in 1962 founded the art collection that bears his name, passed away at his home in Auckland, yesterday, Wednesday 29 August. City Gallery Wellington will today mount a text panel in its West Gallery to pay tribute to his life long encouragement of the visual arts. The Fletcher Trust Collection’s exhibition (jointly with the Sarjeant Gallery, Wanganui), Te Huringa/Turning Points: Pākehā Colonisation & Māori Empowerment is on at the City Gallery until November 4.

“Without Sir James’ vision, tolerance and conviction that the best work by New Zealand artists should be available for everyone, this exhibition would not have been possible,” says
Fletcher Trust Collection curator, Peter Shaw.

Te Huringa/Turning Points challenges audiences to re-think historical depictions of Māori, from well-known colonial artists such as CF Goldie, Horatio Robley and Francis Dillon Bell, by positioning their work alongside contemporary works by leading Māori artists. Ralph Hotere, Colin McCahon, Gordon Walters and Shane Cotton are just some of the great names that feature.

The opportunity for New Zealanders to view these rarely seen historical works, as well as work of contemporary artists, is due to the foresight of Sir James and his close associate George Fraser in establishing and maintaining the Fletcher Trust art collection since 1962. The Fletcher Trust is an independent trust fund established for charitable purposes within New Zealand. The Trust’s art collection is just one its activities.

“Sir James was never constrained by the limits of his own taste, encouraging adventurous buying at every opportunity. To his very last days he remained devoted to the art collection he founded in 1962 and would always inquire of me: ‘Now you're still buying the work of emerging artists, aren't you?’” recalls Peter Shaw.

James Muir Cameron Fletcher was born on December 25, 1914 at St Clair, Dunedin. Following the rapid expansion of the construction business founded by his father in 1909, the family moved, first to Wellington in 1919, then back to Dunedin in 1925. He attended Waitaki Boys' High School and Auckland Grammar School. On leaving school in 1931, James Fletcher qualified as an accountant (ACA) and joined the South British Insurance Company Ltd in Auckland. In 1937 he left to accompany his parents on a trip to visit building and manufacturing industries in Scandinavia and England.

It was this experience that provided the impetus for James Fletcher’s decision in 1937 to join the family business, as a junior accountant. Fletcher Construction became a public company in 1940 and at the age of 25 James Fletcher became company secretary of Fletcher Holdings. In 1942, when he was appointed Managing Director, Fletcher Holdings had approximately 300.In the same year he married Vaughan Gunthorp and they have three sons.

City Gallery Wellington
Civic Square, Wellington


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