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News > Foundation > Art donation creates change

Art donation creates change

Great schools have great collections. Collegian David Hill (Williams/Hamilton 1964-68) recognised this and saw the school's Lander Centre as a blank canvas.
30 May 2023
Written by Andrea Douglas

David explains why it was his desire to exhibit his art collection at St Paul’s Collegiate School.

“I was a Hornsby boy, starting St Paul’s in Williams House in 1964 and Mr Hornsby had a profound influence on me with his passion for the Classics. It stimulated an interest in me that already existed.

Although art was not offered during my time at St Paul’s I began collecting at age 10 and I could blame my mother for this as she went to Elam and owned an antique store. Being an art collector is not something you plan, you arrive. It is driven by passion and enjoying objects that beautify and inform.

The collection is named after The Hawkline Monster, a Gothic Western novella by Richard Brautigan. Reading it helped remove a few boundaries to the imagination, and the title seemed appropriate.

My first piece was ‘Marble Arch Sky’ by Collegian Rodney Fumpston (Williams 1960-64). Our paths happened to cross in London when Rodney was at St Martin’s and I was working in a dealer gallery in Pimlico, and later in Auckland when his ‘Egypt’ screen was acquired. It remains one of my favourite pieces though choosing one is hard – I have a personal relationship with them, telling stories of time and place, real or imagined. Altogether they diarise a life.

With art now offered as a subject at St Paul’s I wanted to loan parts of the Hawkline Collection, to preserve and encourage interest in the arts and humanities in a changing world, and what better place than at St Paul’s.

I see Harry Hornsby’s remarkable generosity as a challenge. And I like to provide incentives for what might become a donor collection perhaps, that will grow as the school grows. Tuku iho is motivating, part of Maori tikanga that fosters the letting go and handing on of the gifts of the past.

I hope the artworks will create interest, and cause the students to ask themselves who, how, or why these works were made, what distinguishes them, and what connects them? I hope it is seen as a teaching aid. I hope it gives cause for students to start asking who they are and where they are going, ideally a bit earlier than I did!

Commitment, cataloguing, care, conservation, exhibition and display that rewards, are the skills the kaitiaki, the guardians, will need for the collection to endure. This might appeal to students of art history or who are already in art practice, or students interested in arts administration, museology or curatorship.

I hope current and future students see value in the gifts of the past, and understand they are part of the same continuum as these fragments.”

Click here to view the St Paul's Art Collection. 


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