Review on the Yallop & Smith Memorial Exhibition by James Dignan Printed in the ODT 20/10/11

There is no denying that Ray Yallop and Des Smith were major Dunedin arts personalities.Patrons and collectors, their house overflowed with art from the Victorian to the modern, and the gatherings of artists that they hosted have passed into legend. Smith died in early 2009, followed a year later by his partner, and it is fair to say that with their deaths an era of Dunedin’s art scene ended. It is fitting that A Gallery has decided to host a memorial exhibition featuring an eclectic mix of work, much of it from the couple’s friends in Dunedin. More than 80 artists’ work has created a wall-to-wall art display, hung in traditional style cheek by jowl around the gallery space. The exhibition is unusual in two respects. Firstly, it is evolving, with more work arriving to be displayed as the exhibition proceeds. Secondly, the exhibited work – albeit mostly very fine work by diverse artists ranging from the respected and recognised to the little-known – is in some ways incidental. The gallery itself is the focus, with the exhibition deliberately mimicking the couple’s own living space, and as such, attempting to capture some of the spirit of the two art patrons. It is a memorial I am sure they would have appreciated.


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Conceived as a two-year project, ‘a gallery’ opened in February 2011 at 393 Princes Street, Dunedin and closed in September 2012. Strategically placed south of the center of town nestled between tattoo studios, sex shops and a needle exchange. What was integral in the selection of the gallery space was that it would be able to be viewed from the street through the street level floor to ceiling windows. This would allow the artists showing to be exposed not only to viewers visiting the gallery, but also those walking past, as a gallery was to represent artists that did not fit within the commercial gallery context or the so called experimental project space’s, this would be the best way to expose a particular group of artists selected by gallery curator/manager Jay Hutchinson, artists he respected and admired and felt were not being represented in the gallery scene at the time.

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