Straka + Hartley-Skudder - a splendid collaboration!

25 May, 2023

We're getting rave responses from visitors to Wendy's Cigarette, a collaborative exhibition featuring paintings by Heather Straka sitting within and alongside installations by Emily Hartley-Skudder. With the spirit of the 'Overlook Hotel' from Stanley Kubrick's The Shining permeating the gallery spaces, this exhibition indulges the artists' shared love of film, mystery and the haunted aura of old buildings.

In the front gallery, the tiled and wallpapered alcove depicts a 70's-style bathroom from the Peach Cease Motel, complete with a confronting  Straka painting of Hartley-Skudder herself, stern, gothic-like, and far removed from her pastel-clad and vivacious self. On the far wall, the installation Green Tea with Honey includes a tantalising portrait of Honey - resurrected from Straka's 2015/16 series Honeytrap - hung above (half) a claw-footed bath and alongside the highly-inappropriate placement of a mustard-coloured hair dryer!

installation view - Peach Crease Motel

installation view - Green Tea with Honey

Meanwhile, the back gallery has been totally transformed into what feels like a 1960's hotel lobby, featuring a luxurious red and gold patterned Axminster carpet, and a striking replica of the elevator from The Shining. Straka's exquisite portrait Concierge Lydia, along with three 'fiery' landscapes in vintage frames, perfectly occupy this space.

installation view - Red Piazza

installation view - Red Piazza

Wendy's Cigarette runs until 3pm Saturday 10 June. If you are in Christchurch during this time, please do visit - it is a must to experience. Images and details of all the works can be viewed here:





Captivated by Marie Le Lievre's latest works...

25 February, 2023

It has been more than two years since Marie Le Lievre presented a solo project at Jonathan Smart Gallery, so it is with much pleasure that we open Net Let on Friday 3 March.

A suite of new works, for the first time organized around a loose grid scratched into oil paint, form the basis of this exhibition. The mark-making, indeed the incisions, still feel intuitive, as does Le Lievre’s consistent and almost forensic pouring of oil paint.

A marvellous group of paintings on paper complement the bigger canvases. In these, Le Lievre’s touch with graphite drawn over duck-egg blue acrylic, suggests items of mystery assembled with both gay abandon and a slightly darker intent.


Fix Catch (Net Let) 2023, 1370 x 1370 mm


Stacked Lets (Tomes) 2022, 1670 x 1830 mm


Cookie Monster's (Tray) 2022, 1670 x 1830 mm





From the stockroom

30 July, 2022

Kia ora tātou,
Ko Meg Doughty ahau.

I have the joy and privilege of interning at Jonathan Smart Gallery this semester through a university course towards an Art History Graduate Diploma. It has been an exciting first few weeks with Anton Parsons’ and Rob Hood’s show openings, and the de-installation and installation of works at the Central Gallery. 

I am a curious human and have been investigating the bountiful stockroom here where I have encountered numerous delights. From a very long list came a short list, and from this came these three works: my stockroom picks!

Anne Noble’s Eidolon series is an almost taxonomic study of the contrasting skeletal and iridescent. Eidolon #1 in particular evokes an erratic wingbeat as if frozen in stained-glass.

Pete Wheeler’s Let Me Remember My Song In The Night is luminous. The turning of these heliotropes to the ground, tongue-in-cheek, asks if it is night or if the sun has been usurped by his bright orange.

Kristy Gorman’s Dovetail is part of a group of delicate ink works that float in their frames. Like breathing, the congregated strips of ink are gently dynamic. 



An occasion to celebrate!

13 May, 2022

On Friday 6 May, we were delighted to hold our first public opening for the year, that of Julia Morison's stand-out show, 3(.)6 degrees of separation. With the COVID traffic light system at orange, an appreciative and (mostly) unmasked crowd of fans and supporters gathered to celebrate the artist with Verde and brioche, while feasting their eyes on the impressive body of 110 works exhibited.

Please go to for images and details






Mark Braunias wins the 2021 Parkin Drawing Prize!

19 August, 2021

In Search of the Saccharine Underground, 2021

Congratulations, Mark, on your thrilling win of this year's Parkin Drawing Prize. The work ‘In Search of the Saccharine Underground’ is a colourful, large-scale diptych made from ink and acrylic on industrial builders’ paper. Judge Dr Sarah Farrah described it  as "fresh, spirited and uncontainable", with the artist's "intuitive and spontaneous mark-making" being "audacious, comic and compelling". 

The term ‘Saccharine Underground' was coined by American rock music critic Greil Marcus in the late 1960s to describe certain aspects of contemporary pop music which had an underlying ‘heavy’ edge but was presented with ironic superficiality. Braunias elaborates: “We’re talking counter-culture.... the music sounds saccharine – kind of cheesy – but there’s a profundity within the lyrical content.” He relates this to his practice, where he "takes the cute but gives it a formal modernist edge. It’s not just about doing cartoons and something funny; there is a seriousness behind the work.”

We're very much looking forward to Mark's upcoming exhibition (of the same title as the winning Parkin work) opening here at JSG on Friday 8 October.




Guest curator introduces Korean artists to JSG

1 July, 2021

Hye Rim Lee - TOKI and Dragon in the Balloons, 2008

In the exhibition The Song Remains the Same, curator Eugene Huston features work by two highly talented and technically savvy Korean New Zealand artists.

Hye Rim Lee uses 3D animation to question the role of new technology in image-making and representation. Her work TOKI and Dragon in the Balloons is a digital print series depicting a fantasy tale made with a cyber heroine TOKI and her mythical creature Dragon YONG, as they journey through different imaginative cities. The artist describes her work as exploring aspects of contemporary pop culture between West and East, and examines instinct, fantasy and sexual innuendo through mythological elements of identity.

Jae Hoon Lee, on the other hand, employs advanced Photoshop techniques to skew and manipulate his landscape-based digital imagery, creating a hyper-real experience for the viewer. Paradoxically, the beauty of the cloud formations in his work Sunset in Whanganui, could equally be seen as warning of impending doom.

The Song Remains the Same runs from 17 June to 17 July, at 52 Buchan St, Sydenham. It can also be viewed online:




Neil Dawson at the 2021 Auckland Art Fair

5 March, 2021


From 24 - 28 February at the Auckland Art Fair, Jonathan Smart Gallery proudly presented a solo show of twelve domestic-size, wall-mounted feathers by renowned sculptor Neil Dawson. Each sculpture, which is around 1800mm in length, is unique in its design, and is primarily based on feathers from New Zealand and Australian birds.  The feathers are laser-cut in polycarbonate and/or aluminium, to which gloss, matt and pearlescent automotive paint is skillfully applied to give a subtle, luminous finish. A limited edition catalogue was also produced for the occasion.

Despite the final day of the AAF being cancelled due to Auckland going into a Covid Level 3 alert, the solo presentation of the Neil Dawson feathers was a resounding success.
To hear the artist talk on this series of works, a 3 minute video produced by Pīwakawaka Pictures is available for viewing: