The Vivian – a destination for discovery

The Vivian Gallery launches into the new year with a new look, and an extraordinary new show called Exodus. New branding was formally unveiled just before Christmas, with a new logo that is reflective of the design of the doorway of the building – what Director Scott Lawrie calls ‘a doorway to discovery’.

“There’s always something new to see at the Vivian. And every time you come through that front door, our aim is to surprise, delight and sometimes even shock!” he says, with a certain amount of glee.

The gallery has now been divided into four distinctive spaces. There’s the North Gallery, which shows significant work by New Zealand (and occasionally Australian) artists; the Studio Gallery which shows exciting new work, installations and small group shows; The Library for smaller edition pieces; and the Lounge Gallery, where you can relax and enjoy art in a welcoming, living-room type environment.

“The zoning allows us to broaden the spectrum of art shown at The Vivian,” says Scott. “It allows us to show work to high-end collectors looking for significant investment pieces, as well as those starting or growing their private collections. And with a dozen or so shows across the year, there really is something for everyone.”

The first of the new shows curated by Scott is called Exodus. It’s an ambitious exhibition which brings together some of his favourite artists – including Matakana artist Virginia Leonard, other New Zealand artists such as Fiona Pardington, Dan Arps, Iain Cheesman and Hugh Koha Lindsay, plus Australians Dale Frank and Patricia Piccinini.

“It’s been hard work to pull together, but I’m so proud of it. It’s a powerful show of contemporary art, and although there are only eight pieces, each represents a pinnacle of that artist’s practice. There’s a lot of fun and humour in there, too.”

Virginia Leonard has a growing international reputation for her bold, luscious ceramic works. Lawrie says The Vivian is lucky to show her. “Virginia is really going places – she totally sold out at the last big art fair in Sydney, she’s selling in the USA and across Europe. We were thrilled when Virginia and her gallery, Paul Nache, agreed to make a unique work just for Exodus – it’s a ripper of a piece too.”

The centrepiece of the exhibition is a large-scale sculpture called ‘Sphinx’ by Australian artist Patricia Piccinini. Known for her hyper-real depictions of freakish human/animal hybrids, it’s a confronting and disturbing sculpture that has turned heads at MONA in Tasmania, in galleries throughout Australia, and as far away as Brazil.

“Sphinx is a piece of work that’s incredibly important, and yet someone like Patricia Piccinini – an internationally-renowned artist – has allowed us to bring it to our little corner of the world. Seriously, you’d be nuts to miss this.”

After a few months getting to grips with his new role, Scott’s vision of ‘going large’ with the Vivian Gallery is coming to fruition. With edgy new branding and his first exhibition aimed squarely at pushing the boundaries, you get the feeling that he’s just getting into his stride. 

Exodus runs at The Vivian Gallery from Saturday February 3 to March 18.

Preview 4pm, Saturday February 3 – all welcome
Director’s talk 12pm, Sunday February 4