The iconic exhibition, which tours 30 venues throughout New Zealand each year, was initiated by Belgian couple Frans Baetens and Magda Vangils of Muka Gallery in Auckland. The couple will not accompany the exhibition this time, so Sarjeant Gallery staff, assisted by Friends of the Sarjeant Gallery, will ensure the smooth running of the show. This is the 18th year the gallery has hosted the show.
“It’s such a great event for the gallery and a wonderful opportunity for youngsters to start collecting art,” says curator, Greg Donson.”The first artwork I ever bought was from Muka when I was 15 and still at school, so that started off our own art collection. It was an Elizabeth Thomson print called Queenie and Violet of two elderly women walking through a kind of biological landscape planted with what looked like fungus. It was quite a cool work, so it’s interesting that 30 years later I ended up working closely with Liz when I included her in my Creature show.”
He says Muka has featured many well-established artists such as Pat Hanly, Seraphine Pick, John Pule, Ralph Hotere and Tony Fomison. Among the 106 artists shown over the past 32 years, 88 have been New Zealanders. The same collection travels to Belgium, Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands.
Children, five to 18 years old, will be able to view and select the works they like in a “blind” sale held in the gallery’s education classroom. Adults wait outside and the names of the artists are hidden. Children make their choices going by what they see and like, rather than by the name of the artist or what their parents think they should be investing in. The works are 100mm x 200mm original, limited edition lithographs by internationally recognised artists from around the world. There is a limit of three prints per person at a cost of $75 each, unframed. Buyers can purchase prints only for themselves and visitors can enter the exhibition space only once. Mobile phones and cameras are not permitted.
Baetens and Vangils organised the first show as a one-off but it was so successful they decided to continue. “My wife asked the artists to do work for young people with the understanding it should not be distinguishable from their normal work,” Baetens says. “The works are not to be resold at any time, however if a work is resold, the artist gets 50 per cent of the increased value.”
Donson says there is a loyal following of people attending the exhibition … and is now curious what kind of art his own children might choose.
■Muka Youth Prints; Saturday, November 17; 10.30am to 4.30pm; Sarjeant on the Quay
By Helen Frances
This article first appeared in the Wanganui Chronicle on Tuesday 23 Oct 2018