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June Feature – Sue Gardiner

Friday, June 1, 2012

Conscious, creative thinking and active participation in the process is what Sue Gardiner, co-Director of the Chartwell Collection, is all about.

Sue and her father Rob oversee the more than 1300 works that make up the Chartwell Collection, a collection of contemporary art from New Zealand and Australia held on long-term loan at the Auckland Art Gallery.

A great deal of consideration goes in to selecting work. “Collecting publicly is very different from collecting privately,” explains Sue. “We need to think how it will be displayed publicly, how an audience will interact with it and how it fits potential curatorial dialogue.”

Sue and Rob spend a long time looking, researching and thinking about the work before acquiring it. Unlike a private collection, the chosen work does not end up in their home; instead it goes directly to the Gallery for archiving and storage with the rest of the Collection.

“Often the only hands-on time I spend with a work is when it’s in the exhibiting gallery, before it enters the Collection or later when it is on public display,” laughs Sue. “Sometimes years will pass before I have the opportunity to see the work again.”

She recalls sitting amidst the Daniel Malone installation Black Market Next to My Name, talking to the artist about acquiring the work for the collection and thinking to herself “this is either going to be the most amazing acquisition or remain a bit of a conundrum!” Happily she reports it has turned out to be the former and the work is a signature piece in the Made Active show, on now at Auckland Art Gallery.

Active engagement with art was encouraged at a very early age. “Growing up, Dad would get me to stand in the middle of a gallery and say which of the works I would buy and why.” She also recalls her father testing her and her sister with ‘flashcards’ – postcards of art works collected around the globe – and being quizzed “Who painted this and when?” It is therefore no great wonder that she is now such a keen pub quiz contender…

Her own personal collection, scattered like ‘intimate clusters of notions’ around the rambling old villa she shares with her family, is much like Sue herself: modest, inquisitive and colourful and brimming with ideas.

The Chartwell Trust emphasizes the role creative thinking plays in a nation’s development: without creative thinking, there can be no innovation, without innovation, no progress.The Chartwell Collection is part of a wider strategy to advocate for the value of creative thinking in our society.

In addition to her role with Chartwell, Sue is a regular contributor to Art News NZ magazine and publications across the Tasman; she hosts guided art tours in Australia and further afield and sits on the board of Artspace.

For more info about the Collection click here

Sue is pictured here with the Daniel Malone work mentioned above.

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