The Friends Centenary Chandelier will be installed in pride of place when the redeveloped Sarjeant Gallery Te Whare o Rehua opens.

Sarjeant Gallery curator Greg Donson and Warren and Mahoney architect Cliff Leong recently met in the vacant 100-year-old art gallery to work out space options for the new permanent artwork.

The Friends of the Sarjeant have commissioned a glass chandelier to commemorate the Gallery's 100th year.

The chandelier is being created by Martinborough-based glass artists Jim Dennison and Leanne Williams of the Crystal Chain Gang, at New Zealand Glassworks in Whanganui.

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Since 2014 when the Sarjeant Gallery transferred operations to its temporary site at Taupō Quay, the building at the top of Pukenamu Queens Park has been closed for earthquake strengthening and construction of a new wing – Pataka o Sir Archie John Te Atawhai Taiaroa.

Sarjeant Gallery Te Whare o Rehua curator Greg Donson and Warren and Mahoney architect Cliff Leong discuss where best to install the Friends Chandelier in the redeveloped gallery. Photo/ Supplied
Sarjeant Gallery Te Whare o Rehua curator Greg Donson and Warren and Mahoney architect Cliff Leong discuss where best to install the Friends Chandelier in the redeveloped gallery. Photo/ Supplied

In discussing where to hang the chandelier, Donson and Mahoney considered the space over the stairs best for showcase lighting, while the rear of the original building would centre it with a line of sight from the main entrance doors.

Sitting at just over a metre in diameter and nearly a two metre drop from the top of the framework, all of the components that make up the chandelier have been modelled on the intricate plaster details that adorn the building's interior.

The chandelier will be unveiled in the Sarjeant Gallery's 100th anniversary exhibition, Turn of a Century: New perspectives on 100 years of collecting and exhibiting, opening at Taupo Quay on September 7 and running to February.

The exhibition includes work by invited artists responding to the heritage building at this unique time in its history.

The final placement decision will likely be made when the building is refurbished.

Meanwhile the chandelier will be exhibited then stored safely until it's permanently installed.

"This commission, from two contemporary artists working at the top of their game, is a great way to mark the occasion and also to flag our commitment to the best of contemporary practice going forward, as Henry Sarjeant envisaged," Donson said.

"I was interested in the Crystal Chain Gang being part of the project as their practice is about how their chandeliers operate and engage in, and respond to spaces.

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"There's a certain quiet theatricality to the Sarjeant's neoclassical spaces and we knew that Jim and Leanne would be in tune with that and respond well."

*Gaye Batty is the Sarjeant Gallery redevelopments project director