2024 Curatorial Advisors

Eddie Clemens, Cognitive Reorientation, 2023. Photo Peter Rees.

Perpetual Guardian Sculpture on the Gulf 2024 announces the appointment of two highly accomplished curators, Robert Leonard and Brett Graham.

Robert Leonard

Robert Leonard is a contemporary-art curator and writer, and now Director of Brisbane’s Institute of Modern Art. He has worked throughout Aotearoa New Zealand—for City Gallery Wellington, Auckland Art Gallery, Artspace, Dunedin Public Art Gallery, the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, and the National Art Gallery. He curated New Zealand representation for the Venice Biennale twice, with Michael Stevenson in 2003 and Simon Denny in 2015. He edited Clinic of Phantasms, Giovanni Intra’s collected writings, which has just been published by Bouncy Castle and Semiotext(e). "Sculpture on the Gulf is a big deal. It’s a success story: it has big audiences, it’s established itself on the art calendar, it’s here to stay. But, I wonder: How might it evolve? What could it become? How much should it meet expectations, play with them, even defy them? What can it do that it hasn’t done already? I think Brett and I can shape a cohesive show, impactful in the landscape, with fewer but larger works. That said, as a curator who has worked for thirty years in white cubes, it’ll stretch me. For me, it's a challenge to subject my ways of working to the great outdoors, the sun, the wind, the rain. The headland is our country’s largest art gallery." —Robert Leonard

Brett Graham

Brett Graham (Ngāti Koroki Kahukura, Tainui) is a sculptor who creates large-scale works exploring indigenous politics and philosophies, and histories of imperialism and colonisation. In 2020, he presented his major exhibition Tai Moana Tai Tangata at the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery to critical and popular acclaim. Iterations of that project have now been presented at City Gallery Wellington and Christchurch Art Gallery. Graham’s work also featured in the 2017 Honolulu Biennial and 2010 Sydney Biennale, and his collaborations with Rachael Rakena in the 2006 Sydney Biennale and 2007 Venice Biennale. Graham has been involved in Sculpture on the Gulf before, as a member of the selection panel in 2007, and as an exhibiting artist in 2017. A constant traveller, he resides in Waiuku on the southern shore of Manukau Harbour. "Sculpture on the Gulf has been the popular face of sculpture in Auckland for decades. Aucklanders have enjoyed making the pilgrimage to Waiheke, and many of New Zealand’s major artists have contributed works at some point. Robert and I have been given the opportunity to reconsider what sculpture might be now, and present work that locates the event firmly in the Pacific. As an artist I am excited by the prospect of working with creatives whose work addresses the challenging issues of our times, on a scale befitting the dramatic landscape of the headland." —Brett Graham