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‘I run towards the Sun. I touch the face of God.’

Biographer and curator Jill Trevelyan remembers pioneering art dealer Peter McLeavey (1936–2015) with a selection of works from the national art collection that were purchased from the Peter McLeavey Gallery


<P data-associrn="1514911"></P> <P>Peter had his own take on the marvellous and mysterious nature of artistic creation. ‘You know, Jill,’ he once said to me. ‘Artists - they're not like you and me.’&nbsp; Artists were a special breed in Peter’s world: committed to risk, following their imagination, going without the security of a ‘normal’ job. For Peter, that was inspiring.&nbsp; It sustained him from 1966, when he launched his gallery, until the day he died.</P> <P>Everyone was welcome at Peter’s place. You might meet a curator there, an art student, or one of the homeless denizens of Cuba Street. It didn’t matter if you had no money to buy: he would talk to anyone who showed an interest.</P> <P>There was always an element of surprise in visiting the gallery.&nbsp; You never knew what Peter might show you, in addition to the art of display. Depending on how he was feeling, he might bring out a McCahon drawing, a book on the architecture of Iran, or a catalogue from a Chicago photography gallery.&nbsp; He might ask what you thought of the latest James Bond film, or a band playing at Mighty Mighty. Peter had an extraordinary appetite for art, in the broadest sense.&nbsp; He would ask, ‘What have you seen lately?’ It was all grist for his project.</P> <P>Peter shaped the careers of many of our best artists, but his influence extended much wider than that. He encouraged many young art curators and writers. He had a rare ability to connect with people, draw them out, and plant a seed of interest. Over the years he nurtured many collectors.</P> <P>In 1993, Peter wrote to gallery director Jenny Harper to give permission for a researcher to access his McCahon archive - then stored in the attic of his Thorndon home. He cautioned that the researcher should come well-prepared: ‘One would need a stout pair of shoes, a good torch and an attitude.’</P> <P>Peter was never short on attitude. He faced his ‘affliction’, Parkinson’s disease, with great courage and fortitude, sustained by his family, his faith, and his passion for art. He remained closely involved in his gallery.&nbsp; In 2010, soon after his diagnosis, he wrote to one of his younger artists, Andrew Barber:</P> <BLOCKQUOTE style="MARGIN-RIGHT: 0px" dir=ltr> <P align=left>... I box on, I live every day. I read Proust. The affliction which courses through me comes and goes.<BR>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; I run towards the Sun. I touch the face of God.</P></BLOCKQUOTE> <P>Farewell, Peter. </P> <P>&nbsp;</P> <P data-associrn="41216"></P> <P data-associrn="38664"></P> <P data-associrn="260763"></P> <P data-associrn="1109347"></P> <P data-associrn="42379"></P> <P data-associrn="42858"></P> <P data-associrn="44359"></P> <P data-associrn="36368"></P> <P data-associrn="702821"></P> <P data-associrn="43490"></P> <P>&nbsp;</P>
Peter McLeavey with Michael Smither’s &lt;EM&gt;Fourteen Stations of the Cross, in memory of Rita Angus&lt;/EM&gt;, September–October 1970, Peter McLeavey Gallery. Photograph by John B Turner.

Peter McLeavey with Michael Smither’s Fourteen Stations of the Cross, in memory of Rita Angus, September–October 1970, Peter McLeavey Gallery. Photograph by John B Turner.

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Derek Cowie, We can do this now, 1986, acrylic on gesso, on two canvas panels hinged horizontally,
Purchased 1986 with Harold Beauchamp Collection funds.
Full object info is available on collections.tepapa.govt.nz

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Colin McCahon, Northland panels, 1958, alkyd on unstretched canvas,
Purchased 1978 with Ellen Eames Collection funds and assistance from the New Zealand Lottery Board.
© Courtesy of the Colin McCahon Research and Publication Trust
Full object info is available on collections.tepapa.govt.nz

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Peter Robinson, My Marae, my Methven, 1994, polystyrene, fibreglass, glass, wool, velvet, linen and aluminium,
Purchased 1997 with New Zealand Lottery Grants Board funds.
Full object info is available on collections.tepapa.govt.nz

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Gordon Walters, Karakia, 1977, acrylic and PVA paint on canvas,
Purchased 1978 with Queen Elizabeth II Arts Council of New Zealand funds.
Full object info is available on collections.tepapa.govt.nz

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Julian Dashper, Mural for a contemporary house (no. 4), 1988, oil acrylic and pencil on stretched canvas with upholstered backing,
Purchased 1990.
Full object info is available on collections.tepapa.govt.nz

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Richard Killeen, Interpretation, 1979, acrylic laquer aluminium,
Purchased 1979 with Queen Elizabeth II Arts Council of New Zealand funds and Harold Beauchamp Collection funds.
Full object info is available on collections.tepapa.govt.nz

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Laurence Aberhart, Interior no 1. "Rongokarae" Waikirikiri near Ruatoki, Bay of Plenty, 7 June 1982, 1982, black and white photograph, gelatin silver print,
Purchased 1984 with New Zealand Lottery Board funds.
Full object info is available on collections.tepapa.govt.nz

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Jacqueline Fraser, Te Ara a Hine, 1997, plastic coated florist and electrical wire,
Gift of the Friends of Te Papa, 1997.
Full object info is available on collections.tepapa.govt.nz

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M.T. Woollaston, Above Wellington, 1986, oil on canvas,
Gift of the Friends of National Art Gallery, 1987.
Full object info is available on collections.tepapa.govt.nz