Extensive private art collection on show at Waikato Museum


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26 November 2008

An exhibition allowing an insight into the collection of one of the most passionate and dedicated art collectors in the Waikato opens at Waikato Museum this Saturday [29 November].

The Inimitable Mister Hopkins; The Barry Hopkins Collection is a tribute to the extensive art collection of Barry Hopkins, curated by Waikato Museum Concept Leader Visual Arts Leafa Wilson in collaboration with Barry himself.

Despite having never created a piece of art himself, Barry is an avid art collector. Born to an old farming family in Ohaupo, he began collecting at the age of sixteen when, by chance, he came across M.T. Clayton's painting of Abel Tasman's ships Zeehaen and Heemskerck in the garage of a family friend and purchased it for next to nothing. His dedication to art collecting has now developed to a point where he is an active presence in the Waikato art community and has acquired an impressive art collection, much of which is housed at the Waikato Museum.

Leafa Wilson said Barry's collection is fascinating, not just because of the diversity and content of the works, but because of his unusual collection habits.

"Unlike many other collectors, Barry's collecting sensibilities don't seem to be aligned to currency in contemporary art. He doesn't follow current trends, go for big names or purchase with the intention of making a lucrative investment. Instead Barry Hopkins is happy to collect what appeals to his unmistakable sense of mischief and the fame of the artist is almost arbitrary. Aesthetic beauty and positivity are also inherent in his large collection," she said.

His collection includes everything from complete unknowns such as Te Awamutu wrestling and boxing coach Johnny Thompson (whose work depicts a Taniwha eating a naughty little boy), to the likes of Colin McCahon's Waterfall and early Richard Killeen painting Rise and Fall.

Part of the original board that established Te Wananga o Aotearoa, Barry has formed close relationships with artists such as Buck Nin and Paratene Matchitt, and developed a vested interest in emerging Maori contemporary artists. He is a prominent member of the Waikato Society of Arts and is a former president and current member of the Friends of the Waikato Museum.

Museum Director Kate Vusoniwailala said Barry's collection has been given in Trust to the Waikato Museum for the benefit of this and future generations.

"His generosity of spirit is well-illustrated in this gift to the city and people of the Waikato," she said.

The exhibition will be official opened on 4 December, and runs until 15 February 2009.

Name: Kate Vusoniwailala
Designation: Museum Director
Tel (Direct): 07 838 6709
Mobile: 021 620 098
Fax (Direct): 07 838 6571
Name: Kylee Bruce
Designation: Communication Advisor
Tel (Direct): 07 838 6726
Mobile: 021 816 917
Fax (Direct): 07 838 6761
Page reviewed: 26 Nov 2008 12:00am