Gallerist Anna Miles is an art world stalwart, opening her contemporary art gallery in 2003 after a good stint as an art critic and lecturer. She represents a range of new-generation and established artists, and has been instrumental in helping shape the New Zealand art landscape by discovering talent early on and guiding them through their careers. “I opened the gallery to champion artists and be a conduit to new art,” Miles tells Broadsheet. “I love working with artists and it thrills me to see them constantly reinvent what they do.”
Anna Miles Gallery is easy to find if you’re looking, but almost impossible to stumble upon by chance. It’s located in a mixed residential-commercial block of terrace houses, in an alleyway just around the corner from Karangahape Road. The signage at the entrance is a simple, discreet “10/30 Gallery” (the address is 10/30 Upper Queen Street) painted above the door. Its main exhibition room is flanked by a glass wall that overlooks a tranquil, little-known leafy pocket of the Symonds Street Cemetery.
Miles often shows an eclectic range of handcrafted objects – large-scale paintings by Reece King, teapots by ceramicist Peter Hawkesby, and door handles made from volcanic rock by jeweller and sculptor Warwick Freeman. In addition to her primary exhibitions, look out for Miles’s desk in the gallery, where she often displays smaller “preview” artworks that give visitors a glimpse into the upcoming program.
10/30 Upper Queen Street
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A short trot up the hill from the shops and restaurants of Britomart, you’ll find Coastal Signs in an urban building set back from the road. It was founded by gallerist Sarah Hopkinson (ex-Hopkinson Cundy and Hopkinson Mossman), who has been a key figure in the local art world since 2007 when she graduated from the University of Auckland’s Elam School of Fine Arts. Hopkinson opened Coastal Signs in April 2021 to “create some space for artists that don’t fit so easily into what is an increasingly conservative marketplace” – and she has done this by operating the gallery, alongside a board of artists, as a cooperative with a profit-share system.
From the visitor’s perspective, Coastal Signs is a commercial gallery – albeit one that highlights many young or new-generation New Zealand artists, as well as those who are established and critically important. The white-walled exhibition space itself is relatively compact and has hosted many different exhibition formats – from paintings by LA-based emerging artist Emma McIntyre, to films by sibling duo Qianye Lin and Qianhe “AL” Lin, and sculptures by Wellington-based multimedia artist Sorawit Songsataya. Board members, many of whom are well known, also exhibit – including Fiona Connor, Peter Robinson, Ruth Buchanan and Shannon Te Ao.
Regular watchers of Coastal Signs know to look out for a dynamic, lively program – and always something a little unexpected.
Ground floor, 90 Anzac Avenue
Helmed by two rising stars in the art world, Jade Townsend and Francis McWhannell, Season is situated down one side of the gigantic Commercial Bay building. “We would like people to feel uplifted and transformed [by visiting the gallery] — if only in a small way,” the pair tells Broadsheet. “People often comment on the warmth of the gallery, and on the surprising grandeur of the space. It is compact, but the ceiling is high. Room for lofty ambitions, perhaps!”
Since opening in February 2022, Season has shown a raft of iconic Māori artists such as Robyn Kahukiwa and Maungarongo “Ron” Te Kawa, alongside little-known or early-career creatives — architect and furniture designer Gerard Dombroski, painter Hamish Coleman, and graphic designer and jewellery artist Becky Bliss. Each exhibition centres around relationships and stories generated from connection.
It was during Auckland’s four-month lockdown in 2021 that the duo started dreaming of in-person art experiences. The kaupapa, or purpose, that naturally came to them revolved around a core set of values – embracing variety and complexity, sharing pūrākau (stories) and promoting hauora (health, wellbeing).
These values feed into how they approach their own separate curatorial and artistic visions — which include supporting artists beyond the walls of their gallery. McWhannell is a well-known art writer and curator, while Townsend exhibits regularly and curates Whānau Mārama, a large-scale group show that takes place each Matariki (Māori New Year) in several locations at Commercial Bay.
6 Lower Albert Street, Commercial Bay
Satchi & Satchi & Satchi
Like many good ideas, the name Satchi & Satchi & Satchi was initially meant to be a joke. Founder Ben Martley was renting a studio space close to the distinctive Saatchi & Saatchi building in Parnell and thought the front room would be perfect for staging exhibitions of work by his artist friends. He decided to playfully reference the art industry and advertising behemoth when looking for a way to distinguish the space – and it stuck.
In the past six years, Satchi & Satchi & Satchi moved to a large space on Dominion Road, showed at the Aotearoa Art Fair and is now in the city, in a tiny store within the Queens Court arcade, opposite Auckland Town Hall. Positioned next to food-court eateries, a beauty parlour and a hair salon, the gallery has no sign and is only open on Sundays and Mondays when an exhibition is on – to fit around his university schedule.
The artworks are sometimes exquisite, such as Lily McRae’s recent Tranquility Faire – a collection of softly detailed artworks on birch panels. They’re sometimes psychedelic, and often they lack the polish that can be found in more commercial galleries. Yet this is what makes Satchi & Satchi & Satchi exciting – its vibrance, unexpectedness and commitment to showing artists who are shaping the future of Aotearoa art.
57/368 Queen Street