Monday, October 23, 2017

Ten x Ten : Art at Te Papa

Ten x Ten: Art at Te Papa
Edited by Athol McCredie
Published by Te Papa Press
ISBN: 978-0-9941362-5-1
300 pages, paperback with flaps, $45.00

 Just ahead of the opening of the much-anticipated gallery revamp that will enhance the art experience at Te Papa, an exciting new book by the museum’s press offers a fresh approach to art appreciation.

Ten x Ten invites ten of the institution’s curators to each pick ten of their favourite works from the national collection, and explain why they find the works interesting, resonant or significant. The result is a novel behind-the-scenes look at New Zealand’s national art
collection by those who know these paintings, prints, photographs, applied art objects and sculptures better than most.

 Ten x Ten’s editor, Te Papa Curator Photography Athol McCredie, says the texts are generally more informal and personal than is conventional in collection books. “We hope to make art appreciation less of a mystery and to allow viewers to connect with work by
seeing it through the eyes of curators, handing them the confidence to reflect on their own responses in turn.”

Striking images of the curators were photographed for the book in the museum’s art stores by highly regarded portrait photographer Jane Ussher. Their commentaries are accompanied by reproductions of the works, roughly sequenced by the period of history covered by their portfolio. Balancing New Zealand and international art, the selection covers a vast time period, from a circa 1300 BC finger ring gifted to the Dominion Museum by the Egypt Exploration Society, through to one of the central works from

Simon Denny’s 2015 Venice Biennale project.

Full biographical details on each artist, from the instantly recognisable to the lesser known, are included at the back of the book, making it an excellent resource for art history students.

When it opens in March 2018, Toi Art, the new gallery at Te Papa, will increase the amount of space dedicated to art by 35 percent. McCredie says Ten x Ten, along with new forms of digital access, will complement the expansion of exhibition space, offering increased ways of showcasing and engaging with Te Papa’s collections.

 “The thrust of the renewal is not only to show more of the collections but also to make art accessible to as broad a spectrum of the public as possible,” he says. “This book works in parallel, aiming to draw back the intimidating screen of anonymous authority that tends to surround museum exhibitions and publications.”


Athol McCredie is Curator Photography at Te Papa, where he has worked since 2001. Prior to that he was curator and acting director at Manawatu Art Gallery (now Te Manawa), and he has been involved with photography as an author, researcher, curator and photographer since the 1970s. His most recent book, New Zealand Photography Collected (Te Papa Press), was shortlisted for the 2016 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards.


Charlotte Davy – Head of Art; Mark Stocker – Historical International Art; Rebecca Rice – Historical New Zealand Art; Lissa Mitchell – Historical Photography; Chelsea Nichols – Modern Art; Justine Olsen – Decorative Art & Design; Megan Tamati-Quennell – Modern & Contemporary Māori & Indigenous Art; Athol McCredie – Photography; Nina Tonga – Pacific Art; Sarah Farrar – Contemporary Art

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