Photography by: Luke Foley-Martin

Attention art lovers — the Aotearoa Art Fair kicks off this week; here’s everything you need to know

The highly anticipated Aotearoa Art Fair is set to kick off on the 18th of April and given that this year’s iteration marks a change in ownership and location (with the Fair now based out of Viaduct Events Centre), we are more excited than ever to immerse ourselves in some of the best art and artists from New Zealand and around the Pacific rim.

Robert Jahnke, Ikura Manawa Whero (Bleeding Heart), 2023, PAULNACHE

As far as the official programme is concerned, this year’s Aotearoa Art Fair comprises a vast and varied line-up of events and exhibitions that you really don’t want to miss. Alongside the main Fair within the Events Centre, filled with galleries from up and down New Zealand, Australia, Asia and the Pacific, there will also be a publicly-accessible, outdoor Sculpture Space in Karanga Plaza. Set against the backdrop of Auckland’s sparkling Waitematā Harbour it will feature a number of extraordinary artists, including Terry Stringer, Chris Bailey, Virginia Leonard and David McCracken, each of whom are known for pushing the boundaries of three-dimensional work.

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Milli Jannides, Where to Start, 2023, McLeavey Gallery

Welcoming visitors to the Fair will be a collaborative work by kaiwhatu / weaver Shiree Reihana and ringatoi / artist Anton Forde. Comprising six of Forde’s astounding Pou cloaked in Reihana’s contemporary Kākahu, installed in a kaokao / chevron formation, this arresting work will beckon visitors to the Art Fair with a message of welcoming, protection and profound connection to whenua and moana. Through their collaboration, Forde and Reihana are inviting all those who attend the Fair to contemplate their place in the vastness of nature and time and remind us all of the importance of working together to safeguard our precious world for generations to come. 

Inside, among the coterie of galleries taking part in this year’s Fair, attendees will find stalwarts like Sanderson Contemporary (showcasing artists like Zara Dolan, Simon Kaan and Natasha Wright), STARKWHITE, Gow Langsford, Michael Lett and Fine Arts Sydney, alongside other notable galleries like Jhana Millers (with a solo show by Hannah Ireland), Futures (from Melbourne), Redbase (bringing an intriguing programme of Asian art and artists over from Sydney) and Coastal Signs, which is making its Art Fair debut with a line-up that includes new works from Emma McIntyre and pieces by Milli Jannides, Shannon Te Ao and Ruth Buchanan.

Left: Bronte Leighton-Dore, Port de Soller, 2023, Martin Browne  
Contemporary. Right: Hannah Ireland, Up on the Mountain, 2024, Jhana Millers

In addition to the impressive gallery offering, this year’s Aotearoa Art Fair is also promising a raft of fascinating talks, performance art and immersive experiences for attendees. On the opening night, for instance, not only will renowned Australian artist Michael Zavros (presented by STARKWHITE) perform his engaging and celebratory work ‘Fifty’, in partnership with Champagne Perrier Jouët, but the New Zealand Dance Company will also present an excerpt from ‘Imprint’, part of its captivating double bill Whenua, which has been lauded for the ways in which it showcases the unique creative voices of New Zealand.

Kāryn Taylor, Reality Shift, 2022, Sanderson Contemporary

Elsewhere, visitors to the Föenander Galleries booth on Friday the 19th of April will be able to experience an interactive performance by artist 박성환 Sung Hwan Bobby Park where they can try on his reworked, ceramic bullet proof helmets (BTM bang tan mo) in the spirit of shattering discrimination and celebrating diverse identities. While on the same day, Sanderson Contemporary will present a talk by internationally renowned artist Wi Te Tau Pirika Taepa (Te Arawa, Ngāti Whakaue, Te Āti Awa), a master of Māori clay art with a career spanning over 30 years.

Over at Jonathan Smart Gallery, artist Mark Braunias will be holding an audience to discuss his new works being presented at the Fair and Emily Gardener will lead a conversation with the Four Worlds Tarot Curatorium. Here, artist Julia Morison ONZM, graphic designers Alice Bonifant and Harriet Herlund and academic Dr Anna Smith, have joined forces to create a fascinating, immersive installation that explores the power of artistic forms and materials to convey symbolic meaning. (We’ve heard that visitors can also have their tarot cards read as part of the installation.)

Grace Wright, Tending One’s Own, 2022, Gow Langsford

All of this and so much more is to be discovered at this year’s exceptional Aotearoa Art Fair, offering plenty for collectors, enthusiasts and art-lovers alike. With the full programme now available online here, and tickets available to purchase here, we suggest securing your spot at what is shaping up to be one of the best cultural events of the year.

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