Mayor Angus McKay's offer of Council and community art to the Ashburton Art Gallery Board to display in the new facility while a faulty air conditioning unit gets replaced has been declined by the board.
The Mayor's move to offer the art was prompted after it was confirmed that the upper floor would not be climate controlled in time for the opening.
Holding an interim exhibition would ensure that when the building is officially opened on 14 February by Attorney-General Christopher Finlayson there will be art in the gallery showcasing the exceptional facility and its modern display spaces.
However, on Monday (February 2) Ashburton Art Gallery Board representatives turned down the offer.
The reasons stated in a meeting with the Mayor were;
- The Ashburton Art Gallery does not want to display art on an ad hoc basis
- The need to consider industry standards and the wider community
- Council art was not in good condition
- Climate control is not functioning in the gallery so the board did not want to put any art up
Mayor McKay says it has always been his understanding that the board's position of not moving their art collection into the new building until air temperatures were stabilised was a condition of their insurance arrangements.
However, he failed to see why other wonderful art held in Council buildings and local art could not be publically displayed.
"It is very disappointing that this opportunity has not been taken up by the board.
"I can understand their reluctance to move in works that require temperature stability, but what we have been asking is that they consider other options that don't require that level of temperature and humidity control to avoid having blank walls."
Mayor McKay says there are a number of beautiful pieces that sit in the Mayor's Reception which have been gifted to the district from visiting dignitaries and would create an interesting and striking exhibition in one of the display rooms.
"We've also offered the artwork that currently adorns the walls of the Council buildings and we can bring some of the older pieces out of storage. We'd all be ready to help move the art over and get it ready."
Even with this late notice, he was confident local artists and studios would be willing to help out as well to ensure there is art in the gallery for the building's official opening and for the public seeing the space for the first time.
Council confirmed last month a new air conditioning unit to replace the one not functioning correctly is being sent from Italy and was not expected to arrive in the country until mid-February.
The unit stabilises the temperature in the upper floor of the building where the art gallery is located.
The official opening of the building is still going ahead as planned, says Mayor McKay. The Ashburton Museum that occupies the ground floor is ready for business.
The ceremony will be an invitation-only event to recognise and acknowledge the many people who have in some way been involved in the project over the years.
The Ashburton Museum will be open to the public for normal business hours the following day with opening hours of 10am to 4pm (weekdays) and 1pm to 4pm (weekends).