Eastern Southland Gallery

An Art Centre for Southern NZ

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This exciting project brings together a successful long standing artist-in-residence programme, a much loved and nationally recognised print project, and an important southern heritage landmark.

The Eastern Southland Gallery was established in Gore as a public art museum in 1984 and has since maintained a busy exhibition, project and performance schedule. The Gallery largely 'reinvented' itself in 2003 with the official opening of a $1.3 million redevelopment of its original building to house the John Money Wing and Ralph Hotere Gallery.

As a part of that redevelopment process the Eastern Southland Gallery concurrently negotiated the successful purchase of a significant Gore landmark, the former East Gore Presbyterian Church and Hall. Designed by prominent New Zealand architect R.A. Lawson, the 1881 church building is the only surviving example of his wooden structures and has been accorded a Heritage New Zealand Category II registration. The hall building is a much later, 1960's addition.

The purpose of this key acquisition, on terraced land adjacent to the Mataura River, was to help the Gallery secure much needed space for its many artist-based projects, programmes and performances. Further good fortune was to gravitate our way in the form of a national visual arts institution. Having visited our site, Fans Baetens and Magda van Gils of Auckland's Muka Studio and Muka Youth Prints graciously offered to gift their considerable historic plant, presses and workshop equipment for the purpose of establishing a not-for-profit lithographic studio to augment our visiting national and international artist programmes.

"[In 1984] a Belgian couple, Magda van Gils and Frans Baetens, arrived in Auckland with the simple ambition of introducing New Zealand's artists to the 19th century art of lithography. It was not a medium that had established itself here. They set up the Muka Studio in Grey Lynn. A few years later, they imported a venerable old litho press from Paris, where, in its heyday, it had rolled out works by Toulouse Lautrec and Pablo Picasso, among others. Since then, most of the country's major artists have printed editions on it - Tony Fomison alone made 30 - and lithography flourishes. There is now some 3000 editions in [Te Papa's] Muka Archive."                              Hamish Keith: NZ Listener

More recently support has come to hand from former Muka collaborators, Nigel Brown and Marilynn Webb.  Both distinguished artists have donated major items of workshop plant that will be made freely available to future artists-in-residence.  Further important donations of equipment have come from artists Inge Doesburg, Jacqueline Byars and Dave Duston. Other key support has come in the form of generous financial donations towards the establishment of fellowships and artist-in-residence projects to augment our already busy, partnership programme. 

The Eastern Southland Gallery is in the process of raising funds and refurbishing this complex in order to create a complementary art centre of regional and national significance. To this end we have been greatly assisted by a wide range of Southland based organisations, groups and individuals. Additionally, the wider national arts community have embraced the project - not only in recognition of the substantial buy-in to the Gallery's collections and programmes from major national practitioners and supporters, but also in light of Muka Studio's significant artist project and Youth Prints legacy to the nation. Major financial contributions to date have come from the Community Trust South ($195,000), Mataura Licensing Trust ($250,000) and the Ministry for Culture & Heritage ($110,000).  Local fundraising has so far gleaned more than $105,000 - with additional gifts-in-kind.

Completed to Date

We have developed a self-contained flat for visiting artists, including the 'Royal Suite' of bedroom furniture - commissioned for the Queen's 1954 tour of New Zealand - kindly gifted to the project by the Invercargill Licensing Trust and NZ Historic Places Trust.

A lithographic studio has been established utilising the equipment and presses gifted by Muka Studios, plus facilities for etching, engraving and woodblock printing.

Almost Complete……..and this is where we need your help!

Our committee would like to commission didactic panels and develop some audio/visual technology for relating the history of Muka Studio and the Muka Youth Prints in our display foyer, as well as complete our final studio component. This recently relined section of the building will be an extended print facility and multi-functional space that can be used by visiting artists. The proposed fit-out involves the provision of lighting, heating and specialist plumbing. Our budget to complete this part of the project is our Boosted target of $20,000.

In the Detailed Planning Stage - our Final Big Push

Under the watchful eye of leading heritage architect Jeremy Salmond we will be undertaking a full restoration of our 1881 church building and internal fit-out for a multi-purpose studio and Art Education Centre. Then in partnership with a group of nationally respected artists, we will be installing site-specific public artworks - including a fully landscaped sculpture garden on the art centre grounds. Any contributions over and above our $20,000 target will be put towards this stage of the project. 

Our total funding target is $20,000. The Gore Host Lions Club has offered to match Boosted contributions, dollar for dollar, up to a value of $10,000. Any and every donation counts - and will be gratefully received!


If this project is successful all of the donors will be issued with a tax creditable receipt. As Boosted is a charity this receipt can be used to claim up to 33% of the donation value at the end of the tax year.