Today (or rather, tonight) New Zealand will be either officially in mourning, or prolong its anticipation of winning the rugby world cup it has been waiting for for 24 years. So it was time to go and have a look what all the fuss is about in rugby heartland, a.k.a. The Cloud, on the waterfront.
It looks like a temporary structure, canvas flimsily held aloft by meccano-like structures, but if it was up to Maestro Warterfront on the Council it should stay there for another 15 years. I think that's highly unlikely and if a swift nor'easterly storm or hurricane doesn't do the trick, surely a cartload of pigeon shit will make it look tatty and old before its time is up.
Inside it looks spacious and airy but since the actually rugby wasn't on, it's run as a showcase for NZ companies. It reminded me of being taken to engineering and building trade shows by my dad: rather boring and pointless.
The remaining old shed next door has been 'transformed' into a booze barn with all the alcy charm and chummy coziness that entails.
A rather fetching new annexe with a spectacular kauri wood canopy abuts the Victorian French chateau-style original gallery, expanding the exhibition space enormously.
But it's still a very intimate gallery of contemporary and historic New Zealand and international art, which makes a visit manageable and not overwhelming. There are some spectacular pieces on show by Picasso and Goldie. My favourite was a very small painting by Piet Mondrian.
In all, I am very pleased my tax dollars have been spent on this, and the return will be far longer lasting and substantial than any rugby match series can.
The gallery website is here.