16 Aug 2021
The Govett-Brewster Foundation celebrated four key figures in the Gallery’s early development at a gala event in late July, when Governor General Dame Patsy Reddy and Foundation Chair John Leuthart presented the inaugural Govett-Brewster Foundation Awards.
The first Awards had a simple criteria: those who had contributed 50 years of significant and impactful advocacy, support or investment to the Gallery and its remarkable story. Award recipients received a work by Billy Apple, along with a framed certificate.
The trust deed to realise Monica’s vision for a world-class contemporary art gallery in New Plymouth was penned by New Plymouth-based law firm Govett Quilliam (GQ) in 1962, but her association with the firm began much earlier – her father was a founding partner, and her husband Rex Brewster was also a partner. GQ have continued their connection to the Gallery to this day, and presently support the Monica Brewster Evenings – a unique event series that brings leading creative and cultural thinkers and practitioners to New Plymouth to speak at the Gallery on the second Tuesday of every month.
Born into a family synonymous with philanthropy in Taranaki, it could almost be considered expected that young engineer and visual arts supporter John Matthews would bring a group of local leaders and influencers together to create the Gallery. Finding a disused cinema n Queen Street, John and artist Michael Smither proposed its transformation, even providing the first plan. John was also a catalyst in the Gallery’s attraction of Len Lye and his archives and collection, and the establishment of the Len Lye Foundation to oversee the artist’s sustained significance.
Arriving in New Plymouth in 1971 as the city’s Deputy Town Clark, Kinsley Sampson was rapidly appointed secretary of the committee overseeing the Gallery. From this position of quiet influence, Kinsley drove the development of the city’s “spiritual infrastructure” which has contributed to a city judged one of the world’s most liveable. Kinsley went on to become the Council’s Chief Executive in 1988, and chaired the Len Lye Centre Committee to raise a remarkable level of funding to enable the Centre to open in 2015. His impact continues as a Govett-Brewster Foundation Trustee.
A young Terry Boon was appointed the Gallery’s founding architect, in doing so transforming an empty cinema building into a dynamic multi-level temple for contemporary art. Terry’s impact didn’t stop when the doors opened in 1970 - he also designed two additional builds in the 1980s and the 1990s to further develop the Gallery’s spaces and cement the city’s reputation as a cultural destination.
Please join the Foundation and Gallery in recognising these remarkable contributions.