Cash and cauliflowers collided at last night's avant garde launch of a new annual appeal for the Auckland Art Gallery.

The gallery needs to raise $150,000 for a new work by artist Judy Millar, to be installed in the building's south atrium.

The $275-a-head dinner, where the dress code was "formal Dada", also relaunched the Auckland Art Gallery Foundation - a philanthropic group originally created to raise money for the institution's $121 million refurbishment.

Gallery director Rhana Devenport said the repurposed foundation would support big-ticket purchases and exhibitions.


"I'm incredibly realistic about the shrinking public purse. This is happening the world over. We've just seen enormous cuts to the arts in Australia and in this part of the world with the decline in lottery funding."

The foundation's new donor structure runs from $1 million-plus "life benefactors" to an entry level $5000, that can be paid off over four years.

"Our core funding allows us to look after our collections and open our doors. Our curated projects, we have to fundraise for. Something like the Millar commission is so beyond our capabilities," Devenport said. "We'll be launching an acquisition appeal every year. The next one could be a 19th century landscape painting or a Chinese video artist. It's about what's the biggest priority at a particular time and we felt the biggest priority was a commission by an Auckland artist in that space."

The gallery owns one Millar work, with long-term loan access to two others via the private Chartwell Collection. Last night's event was attended by 160 people and was art-directed by Millar. It opened to the sound of smashing plates and a ticking clock.

The menu, designed by chef Peter Gordon, featured theatrically splashed black squid ink pasta and cauliflower served in paper bags.

17 May, 2016 3:16pm
3 minutes to read