On the corner of Kitchener Street in Auckland stands a classical building, the old Auckland Art Gallery. Joining up with the old building is the modern and very New Zealand new building (in the foreground of the image).
The new building was designed to blend with the native trees of Albert Park which surrounds the building on two of its faces. Soaring above the entrance way are sarked timber ceilings with tall, shaped supporting pillars – an echo of the surrounding nikau palms.
One day I will allow myself the luxury of visiting the gallery just to look at its imported stone floors, full of wonderful fossils. This image shows a large nautilus shell and a feather.
Timber doors feature Maori motifs.
Here’s another door featuring a Maori pattern.
Hitting you in the eye is a suspended neo-pop work, fabric flowers which fold and inflate while you watch. Designed by Korean artist, Choi Jeong Hwa, the flowers are incongruous with the high quality natural materials that surround them. The plaque on the wall says the arrangement turns “the Gallery’s atrium into a gigantic glass house. Unlike living flowers, its blooms aspire to immortality; they will breathe continually for an entire year.” Isn’t the idea of a life span of only one year somewhat incongruous with the concept of immortality, too? I have always maintained that there is nothing more dead than a fake flower. For all that, I find the art work intriguing and have spent some time mesmerised by the gentle opening and shutting of each bloom.
In places like this, you can stand in the new gallery and look through to where it connects with the old.
Stepping through a door, suddenly you are embraced by the solid tradition and history of the old gallery.
The theme of contemporary natural elegance is carried through to the Gallery’s cafe built, once again, to blend with the trees of Albert Park.
This detail of the cafe’s timber ceiling shows the integrity that is part of every corner of the architecture of the Auckland Art Gallery.
Thanks to Sarah’s logic and persuasion, I don’t eat cakes these days. However, this image shows the attention to detail apparent in the Gallery’s delectable offerings. My friends enjoyed their poisson cru, elegantly presented in a glass, and my Asian noodles with chicken was a pretty scrumptious dish, too.
Allow at least half a day for a browse round the Auckland Art Gallery and plenty of time to linger in the cafe and enjoy fine fare and excellent coffee. There is a great selection of interesting teas and so many tempting food choices that we’ll be back there again soon. There is another cafe on another level of the gallery where you can sit outdoors. It will soon be warm enough. The stylish and spotless loos deserve a special mention, too!