The Whanganui Arts Review moves into a new chapter this year thanks to the generous sponsorship of Wellington consultancy pattillo.
The company is sponsoring the Arts Review Open Award prize for the next five years and increasing the money on offer from $2000 to $5000.
As part of the pattillo project package the Sarjeant Gallery will support the winner to develop a solo artist showcase exhibition at the gallery the following year.
Philanthropist and company co-director Anne Pattillo was on a west-coast road trip in her early 20s when she fell in love with the Sarjeant Gallery.
"Often with amazing buildings the interior doesn't quite match the exterior but that wasn't true with the Sarjeant. At the time there was a contemporary art exhibition on and both the building and the exhibition captured my heart so any time I was in the region it was a place I'd visit."
Pattillo's philanthropy means more to her than donating money and sponsorship publicity.
"When Greg [Anderson] rang last year and asked, "would you be interested in getting involved with Arts Review?" it was pretty flattering and we didn't take the invitation lightly.
However she said it wasn't an automatic yes.
"Because I'm interested in not simply the giving of money but in how we might be able to contribute more in a way that enhances and extends the value of something."
She wanted to know how pattillo could help further develop an event that was already an impressive piece of community extension.
"Something that would be the next chapter in the Arts Review."
The Sarjeant proposed that pattillo support artists by launching a totally merit-based award – which will see an artist win the opportunity to mount an exhibition of their own work at the Sarjeant.
This idea has become "the pattillo project" – a solo artist showcase exhibition to be staged at the Sarjeant Gallery during the following year's Art Review. So the 2019 Open Award winner will exhibit in March 2020. The gallery and curators will support the recipient to bring an exhibition to life.
"I was delighted when they came up with that package," said Patillo.
"The Arts Review will be a pathway to developing the artist. I think it's a really fine way of supporting both an artist and the Sarjeant. Not only is the Sarjeant's collection and its building significant but it is absolutely woven into the fabric of the Whanganui community and that adds to its strength. The Arts Review is the perfect expression of that, so for me everything lined up."
Pattillo believes the role of art galleries in supporting the arts is not just a big city phenomenon, but that the work of galleries needs to be integrated in developing community, giving an opportunity for people to develop their creativity and innovative thinking.
"I think that is part of the future and the future should be available whether you live in Auckland, Wellington or Whanganui"
And the role of art and artists for someone who says she has spent her life making money and enjoying the patterns made by numbers?
"What artistic expression and the difference art makes is [that] it has the power to make us reflect, and to generate joy.
"That power of reflection and connection with enjoyment I think changes how we see the world and how we approach problems.
"What I see art as doing is that it unlocks the emotional response [and allows you] to see problems and opportunity in a richer way. And sometimes it makes us step back and go "how on earth?" or "I'd never have thought of it in that way" – and that's as true for landscapes as it is for sculpture as for multi-media and interactive works. There is a freedom about its form. It puts us into a different world."