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Change is the only thing that remains the same

In this latest Cultural Icons contribution Depot’s Erwin van Asbeck interviews one of New Zealand’s leading arts and culture heroes, John Perry.

Collector – Curator – Artist – Public Museum Director – Leading Folk Art, Ephemera/ Ethnographic authority – Art Educator – Owner of Global Village Antiques – Writer – Art Dealer/Consultant – Lover of Oceania/Pasificana – I could go on – needless to say, John holds a unique and significant place in our cultural landscape.

A living taonga amongst the many precious works and rare objects he has sourced over his life time, John with his authentic weathered eye and uncanny ability, has in some ways, unearthed and presents our collective identity – the extraordinary, the other, that holds true in equal measure to explain where we have come from and so illuminate ourselves.

John delves into his colourful past, an escape from grey 50’s suburbia, shares stories of his early life and fellow artistic influencers embracing the 60’s vanguard of change. “It was a melting pot, a crucible of change and flux”. From Elam art student days and the pivotal gallery art scene of new and emerging artists, to teaching in outposts such as Blenheim in the early 70’s, (off set by the alluring proximity of the Wairau estuary, and escapes to Wellington and Christchurch!) We gain insight to John’s passions, growing collection instincts and the restlessness that influenced his career journey and inspiration.

Whilst building a rural retreat in Kaukapakapa, John met his calling, by taking on the curator position at the Rotorua Bath House Art Gallery. This was the late 70’s and set in motion a transformational 20 year period, John wittingly describes the struggles and triumphs, that ultimately resulted in the impressive art collection legacy he built for the then named Rotorua Museum of Art and History. “A collection that related to the history of art in New Zealand, of Maori art and ‘ways of seeing’ and a collection of mainstream contemporary NZ art”.

Forever immersed in art and culture projects exhibitions ideas and lately travels overseas, John continues to make an immense contribution, and for the last twenty years resides in Helensville with his vast personal collection, fittingly housed in the old town cinema, the ‘world famous in New Zealand’ Global Village Antiques. Here you will experience a wonderfully rich world of endless curiosity, of time and place, which speaks to the unusual, the unexpected and the extraordinary.

A world, as people of Aotearoa, are all in some way a part of and can identify with.


Further viewing:

Two films on John Perry by Kim Maree

“Living with Folk Art”  John Perry on the wonders and cultural significance of Outsider Art. The Daly Hughes Collection.

John Perry – OCEANIA – Many Islands Many Artists.   John Perry presenting his exhibition/collection as part of the 2016 NZ Outsider Art Fair.