Gaelen Macdonald, the director of the NZ Portrait Gallery, talks about the gallery and their commissioning of this portrait.
About the New Zealand Portrait Gallery
The New Zealand Portrait Gallery is a unique cultural institution, committed to presenting portraits from all cultural and political standpoints, people who have shaped our country and influenced the way we think about ourselves. Our collection is steadily growing as portraits of a variety of media are donated and sponsored.
About Who’s Missing?
For the month of May, the gallery looked to the New Zealand public to choose the next portrait to commission for our collection.
We thought the voice of the New Zealand public should play an important part in the development of the gallery and so invited everyone to vote for their top three New Zealanders whom they believed were expressive of New Zealand’s distinct identity, culture and traditions, and should therefore be represented in the national collection.
The idea was to raise public awareness about the importance of portraiture in our society, and at the end of the month, guided by the numbers alone a subject would be chosen and the gallery would set about getting a portrait commissioned. During this month, we encouraged voters to explore our portrait collection online to get an idea of the range of portraits already in the collection.
Social Justice campaigner, Celia Lashlie received the most votes by a long shot, and was followed by Kate Sheppard and then Helen Clark. Calling for a subject to be chosen by the New Zealand public was a great opportunity to see who we as a country see as our leaders, history makers and cultural icons.
We were delighted by our voters’ enthusiasm and this project also told us that people wanted to see the faces of more women featured in the national collection. The positive response nationwide was very encouraging.
We then set about calling on established artists to submit expressions of interest in being commissioned to produce a posthumous portrait of Celia Lashlie.
Over 50 expressions of interest were received from talented New Zealand portrait artists to deliver a posthumous portrait of Celia Lashlie for our country’s national portrait collection.
In consultation with Celia’s family, artist Heather Main was selected to create the posthumous portrait of Celia Lashlie. She is not only an accomplished artist who put in a very strong proposal but she was a friend of Celia and has a real sense of the person she was.
And we at the New Zealand Portrait Gallery are thrilled with the result!
About what we do
Our mission is to present portraits of New Zealanders, or persons strongly connected with New Zealand, past and present, who have shaped and continue to express our national culture. We seek to implement this mission in the following ways;
- exhibiting in Wellington and throughout the country significant New Zealand portraits covering a wide variety of themes and types of portraiture of both historical and current interest, to as wide a range of New Zealanders as possible
- maintaining and developing a portrait collection of national significance
- fostering an appreciation among all New Zealanders of the cultural and historical significance of New Zealand portraiture through its exhibition program, through outreach to schools and through lectures, films and special events for the general public
- encouraging the development of New Zealand portraiture through the biennial Adam Portrait Competition and Exhibition and commissioning of portraits for its collection and generally assisting wherever possible New Zealand portrait artists.
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PHONE +64 (04) 472 2298