The vision of the Wallace Arts Trust is to support, promote and expose New Zealand contemporary artists while providing the wider public with an inimitable cultural and historical resource of contemporary New Zealand art.
Sir James Wallace began collecting New Zealand art in the mid-1960s, with a particular focus on the work of emerging artists. In 1992 he transferred his Collection to a newly formed Charitable Trust, which he proceeded to fund so that it could continue to add to the Collection and provide support for the arts in New Zealand in general. In this year Rannoch was purchased; the house and sculpture garden held most of the Collection and was made available for public tours.
The original aim was to assist emerging artists through both patronage and promotion through exhibitions. However, as the Trust became more established, it broadened its scope to include the acquisition of works by artists as they continued to develop, so creating a ‘diary collection’. Gaps have often been filled through collaborations with artists and their dealers.
Nothing is ever sold so that the body of works, now numbering over 8,000, will remain in its entirety as a cultural resource for present and future generations. The Trust owns the strongest collection in any hands of a number of senior artists such as Sir Toss Woollaston and Philip Trusttum, and also of many emerging and mid-career artists, and has significant holdings of many other well-known artists. In addition, the Trust has initiated over 80 commissions ranging from Pat Hanly stained glass windows to Terry Stringer sculptures.
For some years greater public access has been given to the Collection by making bodies of works available to some 50 institutions ranging from schools, universities and science research establishments to hospitals.
In August 2010 The Wallace Arts Trust moved to its permanent home, the historic Pah Homestead in the beautiful setting of Auckland’s Monte Cecilia Park. In 1992 Sir James Wallace established the Annual Wallace Art Awards. These awards are now the longest surviving and richest annual art awards of their kind in Australasia, amounting to over $195,000.
The Paramount winner is awarded a six month Residency in New York with the International Studio and Curatorial Program; the Wallace Arts Trust Development Award winner receives a residency at Vermont Studio Centre, while the Kaipara Foundation Wallace Award winner receives a residency at the Altes Spital in Solothurn, Switzerland. The winner of the Fulbright Wallace Arts Trust Award receives a three month residency at the Headlands Center for the Arts in San Francisco. Many of the winners and finalists of the Awards are added to the Collection each year.
Beyond this the Trust financially supports many other Arts organizations in New Zealand. Sir James Wallace is patron, trustee or board member of some 20 such institutions.