It's taken two years to build but Te Uru Waitakere Contemporary Gallery is now open. Justin Gregory went to see the West Auckland gallery a year ago when it was just beginning to take shape and to hear about the ambitious plans director Andrew Clifford had for it. Justin met Andrew again recently to take a tour of the Te Uru Waitakere Contemporary Gallery and talk about whether those plans had become reality.
Te Uru adjoins historic Lopdell House which has sat on the site since it opened in 1930. Originally called the Titirangi Hotel, it was quickly dubbed the “pub with no beer’ when its application for a liquor licence was unsuccessful. Various incarnations as a nightclub and a school for the deaf followed and when the Waitemata Council purchased Lopdell House in 1982 to establish an arts centre, Lopdell House Gallery opened four years later.
View over Manukau Harbour from the gallery’s viewing platform. Photo: Radio New Zealand.
In 2012 Lopdell House closed for much-needed earthquake strengthening and the construction of Te Uru, a purpose-built gallery right next door. Te Uru director Andrew Clifford insists that the character of Lopdell House Gallery, with its focus on craft, contemporary art and the West Auckland community it serves, will not change, but says that the new name gives a clue to new possibilities.
“That’s always going to be a delicate balance. Our full name is now Te Uru Waitakere Contemporary Gallery. It’s notable that the word “art” isn’t in that phrase. We can show a whole lot of contemporary culture in here without having to worry is it art or not.”
Solar Parasol in Gallery 2. Photo: Radio New Zealand.