The owners of Auckland art gallery Gow Langsford are expanding, buying new premises and spending $8 million-plus for much larger art display areas due to open early next year.
Julian McKinnon, research and content lead for Gow Langsford, said a company owned by John Gow and Gary Langsford had bought 4 Princes St, Onehunga.
They will open a new art gallery there. The purchasing entity is Toheroa Shell Company whose shareholders include Gow and Langsford.
The business will launch a new gallery in the building, originally commissioned for the cosmetics business Helena Rubinstein in the 1950s, McKinnon said.
That building has been refurbished and fitted out in the past year and is due to open in February.
In 2021, the Auckland Council valued the 2260sq m property at $5.6 million. It has a floor area of 1924sq m.
Bayleys advertised the warehouse, showroom and first-floor office as being on a corner site, freehold and in an industrial mixed-use zoning. It was offered with vacant investment.
Gow Langsford’s gallery is now on the corner of Kitchener St and Wellesley St in the centre of the city.
McKinnon said the Onehunga buy was “somewhere from $8m to $10m” which includes the purchase as well as refurbishment.
Around 380sq m will be gallery space, 200sq m will be artists’ studios, 450sq m will be warehousing and 450sq m a standalone art storage business. Another art industry business will occupy a further 120sq m.
The rest will be offices, facilities and the library to be open to the public.
“It’s almost like a step between a private and public gallery space, with the capacity to run major exhibitions on a scale like that of a medium-sized public institution,” the spokesman said.
The February opening will have an exhibition of contemporary art, including works by Shane Cotton, John Pule and Dame Robin White.
Gow Langsford will keep its Kitchener St gallery, McKinnon said.
“There was a second gallery on Lorne St that closed in 2019 in anticipation of this new development. The idea is to have a small central presence that runs alongside the full-scale operation in the suburb. It will make for a very busy exhibition schedule.”
Gow Langsford has been running for 36 years, having opened in 1987, McKinnon said.
“They had humble beginnings, starting out in a disused petrol station in Grey Lynn,” he said.
A previous Herald story said Gow grew up on a farm in the Waikato and had “a lot of art in the family”, went straight into his father’s post-farm business in the John Leech Galleries in Remuera, learning the craft of framing before taking off to London for three years to buy gold and silver for his cousin. “That’s where I learned to trade.”
Langsford, on the other hand, had a less cautious background. With a fine arts degree in sculpture from Elam and sporadically playing guitar in bands like DD Smash, he had a sharp reputation in Auckland in the 80s as an art deco dealer, frequently travelling to antique fairs in Miami and Japan.
Anne Gibson has been the Herald’s property editor for 23 years, has won many awards, written books and covered property extensively here and overseas.