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WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 8, 2012
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Tarting up the
Art sees the
light of day
By JUDITH LACY
Insight: Barry Pilcher with one of the works in his
extensive art collection, James Robinson's
Parasite. It is about 2.5 metres high and normally
lives in the stairwell of his home.
Photo: BRONWYN ZIMMERMAN
When Barry Pilcher went to an art exhi-
bition to support a friend little did he
know it would spawn a collection of
more than 200 works.
Fifteen works by 15 New Zealand artists from
his collection are on display at Zimmerman con-
temporary art gallery in Palmerston North this
What does the art collector do when his house
is being redecorated? He loans some of his
pieces, giving the public a chance to see works by
winners and runners-up of the Wallace Art
In 2001 Mr Pilcher went to an exhibition at Te
Manawa, curated by his friend Paul Hansen.
While there he saw a survey exhibition of Paul
Dibble's works and a passion was born.
He began going to exhibitions and talking to
His first buy was a work from Dibble's Calici
Smile series, a shrine to rabbits inspired by
South Island farmers illegally spreading the
The top of the sculpture is a smiling pair of
lips representing the farmers thinking they have
beaten the grass guzzlers. Underneath, four
rabbits on their hind legs celebrate their victory.
Mr Pilcher had bought a couple of pieces
before his serious collecting began in 2001, but
raising a family and paying a mortgage meant
his collection did not take off earlier.
Part of the enjoyment for Mr Pilcher is the
face-to-face interaction with the art world.
You get to know the artists as well, I enjoy
meeting the artists and getting to know them
and supporting the artists, especially the
One of the 15 pieces at Zimmerman is one of
Mr Pilcher's favourite works -- a painting by
It's absolutely beautifully done work.''
Gallery owner Bronwyn Zimmerman hopes
the insight into a real person's'' collection will
help people in deciding how to begin, or expand,
their own collection.
Plus, it is a great opportunity for Manawatu
people to view art they might otherwise not see.
None of the works are for sale.
Mr Pilcher did not do art at school and does
I would be too embarrassed to put a brush to
paper or anything like that.''
However the taxation adviser does have a cre-
ative side. He has performed in shows at Feild-
ing Little Theatre and Globe Theatre and played
the flute for Summer Shakespeare productions.
You have got to get away from figures and all
those sorts of things, don't you.''
His collection is works by New Zealand artists
in a range of mediums -- paint, glass, bronze,
wood, ceramic; he mainly buys from Auckland,
Wellington, Manawatu and Whanganui.
He has never bought a piece because he was
told it would one day be worth a lot. Instead, Mr
Pilcher uses his heart for this selection.
You have got to like and enjoy the work.''
With the redecorating of his Feilding home,
Mr Pilcher said the exhibition meant 15 fewer
works to put into storage. He is an accumulator
-- he has not sold any of the works he has bought.
With not enough wall space for all the works
he has, Mr Pilcher occasionally loans pieces to
public galleries, freeing up space in his home for
a work in storage.
A collecting highlight is the biennial Auckland
Art Fair where Mr Pilcher can see works pres-
ented by galleries from around New Zealand and
some from Australia.
Mr Pilcher enjoys artists and students visiting
his house to view artworks in a domestic setting
and sometimes works by their tutors.
The self-employed man says it is a privilege to
be able to work in a space where he can have art
The Wallace Art Awards are New Zealand's
longest surviving and largest annual art awards of
They were established by arts patron and collector
Sir James Wallace.
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