The Ian & Elespie Prior Collection
Showcasing the Development of Contemporary NZ Art
Curated by Luit Bieringa – former director National Art Gallery, Wellington
A good exhibition takes time to prepare. This exhibition has been in development for decades and is only on tour to three national art museums. The exhibition opened at Aratoi, Masterton and was a major installation at the City Gallery Wellington last year. Its only 2007 scheduled venue is the Whangarei Art Museum before the collection is returned to private hands. There is also concurrently a very engaging book, Elespie & Ian – Memoir of a Marriage by Ian Prior available from all good bookshops to accompany this exhibition as well as a colour catalogue with articles by art historian Damian Skinner. This is a stunning and memorable exhibition for Northland art lovers to enjoy.
The selections made for this exhibition attempt to illustrate the broad story of contemporary New Zealand art developments as well as the cultural environment within which these developments took place. Most of the country’s pre-eminent artists are represented. Colin Mc Cahon, Toss Woollaston, Ralph Hotere, John Drawbridge, Milan Mrkusich, Phillip Trusttum and many others are included. Of particular significance are the works by Evelyn Page, including a very fine portrait of Elespie. The Pages, Evelyn and Professor Frederick Page, were close friends of the Priors.
Assembled with great discrimination, the works represent the personal associations that signify Ian and Elespie’s ethos of giving to the community rather than acquiring from it. The exhibition is a timely acknowledgement of the Prior’s contribution to their community and New Zealand art and culture. This is an opportunity to see artwork that is rarely available to the public. .