The Dunedin Public Art Gallery is proud to present the exhibition Light switch and conduit: The Jim Barr and Mary Barr Collection, the show that highlights and celebrates their significant art collection. The Dunedin Public Art Gallery has a well-established relationship with Jim Barr and Mary Barr, the Wellington-based art collectors, whose collection has been exhibited at the Dunedin Public Art Gallery in two full-scale exhibitions in 2011 and 2006. Jim Barr and Mary Barr have an instinctive approach to art collecting, they follow their personal pleasures and obtain what resonates emotionally. The couple has built close relationships with dealers and artists, which puts them in a leading position of contemporary art practice. Light switch and conduit marks a period of recent collecting of Jim and Mary Barr and most of the pieces were obtained during their time living in an apartment in the Wellington city center.
What is interesting about Jim and Mary Barr is their distinctive sense of style. The relationship between their art collection and the places that the couple has called home is as direct as it can be. They have lived in a large apartment in a converted office block, a smaller-scale apartment, and a turn-of-the-century villa. However, their most recent, current home has brought a new dimension to their passion for art collecting. During their time there, they have obtained pieces that, they both admit, are more personal and intimate in scale while the actual size of their collection has increased. Light switch and conduit investigates the relationship between the artworks and the domestic surroundings. The space that the works occupy becomes their home, the perfect place they should be at, and the place that brings out the best in them. Jim and Mary Barr and their astounding collection will bring that sense of a homely, yet, highly stylistic atmosphere to the Dunedin Public Art Gallery, thus inspiring the prospective collectors and art aficionados to start their own, private collections.
The exhibition features artists who investigate the formal and the conceptual possibilities of space. One of the artists whose works will be presented is Fiona Connor, whose pieces levitate between perception and reality, the imitation and the original. She resets and deranges the lines between public and private space through her architectural and sculptural interventions. Stairs in Series (2008) is a replica of the stairway in the converted office block where the Barr couple lived. Seemingly, the piece seems monumental with the tons of timber, steel, and concrete. In reality, the structural materials are made of polystyrene and paint, which makes the artwork movable, and makes it a reminder of Jim and Mary’s previous home, wherever they go. Other artists featured in this exhibition are Hany Armanious, Dan Arps, Andrew Barber, Xin Cheng, Simon Denny, Oscar Enberg, et al, Glen Hayward, Matt Hinkley, Kate Newby, Rose Nolan, Michael Parekowhai, Campbell Patterson, Peter Robinson, Luke Willis Thompson, and Rohan Wealleans. The works will show the utilization of various materials, handcrafted, found, or fabricated, it will display the susceptibility of the objects, and the investigation of space and assemblage.
Light switch and conduit: The Jim Barr and Mary Barr Collection will be exhibited at the Dunedin Public Art Gallery from April 9th to August 14th, 2016. It will show the works of contemporary New Zealand artists, and international artists. Including photographs, sculptures, and installations, this exhibition is the prime example of a versatile art collection. As previously mentioned, in our humble opinion, this exhibition is the perfect opportunity for young and aspiring collectors to get insight into the sometimes complicated world of art collecting, and it will provide inspiration for the experienced collectors who may not be that familiar with contemporary art. Additionally, anything that comes from the distant New Zealand is bound to bring something fresh and new into the Western art world, making Light switch and conduit interesting for the art appreciators as well.
Featured image: Campbell Patterson, Lifting my mother for as long as I can, 2010, (still) single channel DVD. Jim Barr and Mary Barr loan. Collection of The Dowse Art Museum. Photo by Max Bellamy.