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You have been director of Christchurch Art Gallery for over a year now – what has been the highlight so far?

One of the most exciting things has been establishing my vision for Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū – we want to become a catalyst for ambitious creativity in Ōtautahi Christchurch and have the opportunity for Christchurch to be known as the creative hub of New Zealand. It’s our job to make this happen and over the past year we’ve made some progress towards realising this with significant projects like our exhibitions with Steve Carr and Julia Morison, as well as transforming our annual gala event into New Zealand’s biggest arts party.

What inspired the creation of Art Do?

Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū has been actively fundraising through great gala dinners since 2013 – events that celebrate the coming together of our supporters, outstanding food and incredible wine. The funds raised have supported the acquisition of five great works of art, purchased to mark five years of forced closure. It’s a group of works that we can be very proud of, and together they enrich a collection that tells us something about ourselves and the recent history of this city.

Now, we’re moving our focus from the acquisition of significant works to the creation of new and ambitious exhibition projects by leading New Zealand artists. We want to take the next step and support artists to be more ambitious than they could be on their own by facilitating a new series of projects for exhibition at Christchurch Art Gallery. As part of this, the gala dinner was transformed in to Art Do – New Zealand’s biggest art party.

Director of Christchurch Art Gallery Blair Jackson

What makes Art Do such a stand out event? 

It’s an event that connects people from all over the country. We developed Art Do as a way to connect our generous group of supporters with many of the artists we work with. Often artists don’t have the opportunity to attend these types of gala events. Any yet they are at the core of everything we do. For me, it’s important that the artists and our community of supporters get to meet each other and collectively enjoy the Gallery in a different way. Each year the first people we invite are the artists, we aim to have fifty artists attend Art Do this year.

Art Do fits with the Gallery’s desire to build new audiences and work with artists to create significant new projects that speaks directly with our visitors. It’s our way of positioning Ōtautahi Christchurch as a highly engaged and creative city. Art Do is not just about having a great time. It offers guests the opportunity to invest directly in the process of art making. It’s also about celebrating the long history and exciting future of this creative city.

This is New Zealand’s opportunity to come and party with your favourite artists, around some pretty epic installations. 

How does Art Do push the boundaries around the traditional definition of ‘art’? 

Art Do is our major opportunity to get together around art and give back through a really immersive and collaborative experience – one that resonates with our community. We’re working with a number of artists collaborating across the night. These partnerships are a big undertaking, but one that pays off. We’ll have a selection of New Zealand artists hitting the decks and playing their favourite tunes. We have also secured forty-eight magnums of the finest 2017 Greystone Pinot Noir, and we’re working with two New Zealand artists to create some seriously limited-edition art-wine with them. There are lots of other collaborations taking place, but you’ll need to buy a ticket to find out what they are.

Do you think Cantabrians are embracing art more and more as our primary centre, Christchurch, continues to forge its place on the international map as an art city to watch? 

Yes! And we feel very privileged to be able to support the creation of exceptional work produced in this city. We are continuing to extend the Gallery’s influence beyond its walls and giving the city something else to be proud of.

Ōtautahi Christchurch has the opportunity to be a city where art is integral to the way we live. I think that art plays a unique role in bringing individuals from different backgrounds together, and enabling us to see the world through other people’s eyes. The artist’s projects that we have planned, and that Art Do will help fund, will be conceived for the city: we want to play a very active role in commissioning outstanding new work that will resonate with local and international audiences.

Help celebrate great art in Ōtautahi Christchurch at the Art Do Dinner on Friday 26 July and Art Do Party Saturday 27 July. For more information, visit christchurchartgallery.org.nz/artdo.