Topic: Inspiring Gallery Floortalks (2011)

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The floortalks organised by Tauranga Art Gallery are a special art experience. Our art gallery often has leading artists, art writers and curators from other galleries sharing their extensive knowledge of art and artists with those who go along and enjoy these very informative events.

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To hear leading artists like Nigel Brown, Reuben Paterson and John McLean speak is a real treat and their floortalks provide a unique insight into their lives and art.

After the floortalks, visitors are often able to meet and talk to the artists in person.

On Sunday, September 18, 60 keen art lovers from Tauranga and further afield went along to hear renown writer and curator Gregory O’Brien talk about the captivating Graham Percy exhibition now showing at Tauranga Art Gallery.

This was a very personal floortalk as O’Brien and Percy were close friends before Percy’s sad passing in 2008.

Author Gregory O’Brien.

Gregory O’Brien is a poet, essayist and art critic who has had books published in New Zealand, Australia and England.

He has curated major exhibitions of Ralph Hotere and John Drawbridge at the Wellington City Art Gallery.

His beautifully produced book ‘A Micronaut in a Wide World – The Imaginative Life and Times of Graham Percy’ was written to accompany this exhibition of wonderful artwork.

The drawings in the book and in the exhibition are filled with a love of humanity and rich humour. 

A few years after I first became interested in art, I read Gregory O’Brien’s art books for children.

These very accessible books were an ideal lead in to what has since become a consuming exploration of art and art history.

Graham Percy’s exhibition opened at the gallery on September 10 and the good turnout at the floortalk just over a week later was a very visible indication of how well this exhibition has been received.

Percy (b.1938) grew up in Taranaki and Auckland, graduated from Elam School of Fine Arts in 1958 and left New Zealand in 1964 after winning a scholarship to study at the Royal College of Art in London. 

Don Binney, Greer Twist, Mervyn Williams and other famous contemporaries at Elam admired his extraordinary drawing.

Apart from a few brief visits he remained in England working as an illustrator and artist for the rest of his life. 

If you follow the exhibition clockwise you’ll see art inspired by his childhood, exquisite drawings showing his highly original thinking on historical figures and events, artworks with New Zealand themes done by a Kiwi abroad thinking of home and slightly melancholy works reflecting back on his life that were created while he was ill shortly before his death. 

All of these were covered in an interesting yet very moving way during the floortalk by Gregory O’Brien. 

Percy’s art draws you in – a sign of all good art. The exhibition runs until November 13 and is not to be missed.

Graham Percy – Artist.

For all those enthusiastic about art and those who want to make the most of our wonderful art gallery, the floortalks and other events organised by Penny Jackson and her dedicated staff are most rewarding art experiences. 

These events help make our city an interesting place to live in and are an integral part of our gallery's continuing involvement with the people of Tauranga and increasing numbers of visitors from around New Zealand and overseas.

To find out about new exhibitions at Tauranga Art Gallery, upcoming floortalks and gallery events please visit

by Pete Morris (2011).

Pete Morris is an occasional artist and an art lover. He is a free-lance writer who has a particular interest in promoting the visual arts in Tauranga and the Bay of Plenty.


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Inspiring Gallery Floortalks (2011)