Lower Hutt: Colin McCahon painting to stay

Mayor welcomes decision on McCahon painting ownership

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Mayor David Ogden has welcomed the decision by the Council’s Finance and Audit Committee to retain the Council’s ownership of Colin McCahon’s ‘Through the Wall of Death’. 

“The painting is one of the most notable works in TheNewDowse collection and is considered a significant painting by possibly the most important 20th century New Zealand artist.   This decision will ensure that it continues to be enjoyed by Hutt residents for generations to come.

“TheNewDowse has rightly been described as a jewel in the crown for the city.  Last night’s decision acknowledges that we are the guardians of the institution and its collection for future generations.  It also keeps the faith with the many supporters and benefactors whose commitment over the years has literally built TheNewDowse.”

Considering this painting has a valuation of roughly $1.5 million, I struggle with the retention of this work of art.

Firstly the HCC role should be supportive of the arts and culture but not to the exclusion of new works by local artists (It originally cost $3000 in 1976, a tidy sum back then).

Given that I am in agreement with several councillors who stated that the council would not currently buy a $1.5 million painting, as the ratepayers would balk. Equally the logic applies the other way, why are we holding on to such a painting, and given that we have, at what expense to ratepayers to provide the security & insurance it requires.
If the ratepayers are asked to subsidise The New Dowse because of revenue shortfalls this year equally the council should divest itself of works that could help in that regard given the current economy.

I’m not asking they don’t support developing artists either by purchasing new works akin to the original purchase of the McCahon. But the logic of calling on ratepayers first for art funding shortfalls, or conversely holding on to assets to placate egos (or avoid hard decisions) is not something I trust to any council.

I would be happier to retain this work if it were by a local artist, it therefore would hold more value to the local community, not the arts community overall.

Posted via web from huttnz’s posterous