Today we’re pleased to feature an interview with Peter Vangioni, curator for the Christchurch Art Gallery in New Zealand. Peter shares some beautiful visuals and answers our questions about a partnership between the gallery and the Central Library in Peterborough. The result is “Pressed Letters,” an exhibition that highlights New Zealand’s letterpress work from 1975 to the present. ~ Laura

F & X TYPO Design (2011). Designed and printed by Tara McLeod at the Pear Tree Press, Auckland. Robert and Barbara Stewart Library and Archives, Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu.

What prompted the gallery to host the exhibition at the Central Library-Peterborough?

I was prompted to hold an exhibition of fine printing at the library because the Christchurch Art Gallery was damaged in the recent earthquakes and remains closed. I thought it a good opportunity for the library and Gallery to work together bringing together books and art so to speak but the exhibition also relates to the Christchurch Writers Festival which also opens this week.

What role is the library playing in hosting the exhibition?

The library provided a valuable space for the exhibition, also the material on display has been drawn from the Christchurch City Libraries collection as well as the Art Gallery’s collection. I am not aware of any public programme as such although the Gallery’s education officer will be holding some practical art lessons for school children at the library.

Any highlights from the exhibition you would like to point out? 

I think Joanna Margaret Paul’s book ‘Imogen: Poems by Joanna Margaret Paul’ is a highlight for me as it is a stunning example of a poet and printer working together to realise Joanna’s poems in printed form, the layout and printing is stunning and was done by one of New Zealand’s finest letterpress printers, Alan Loney.

Imogen by Joanna Margaret Paul (1978). Hawk Press, Days Bay. Designed and printed by Alan Loney. Collection Christchurch City Libraries.

Do you have any suggestions for galleries who are interested in working with other libraries to host exhibitions?

This exhibition consists of 5 display cases scattered throughout the library and it really is interesting to see these rare and valuable artist’s books displayed amongst the open shelves, creates a nice synergy between the two.

Max Gimblett Searchings: selections from the artist’s Journals chosen and arranged by Alan Loney (2005) Holloway Press, Auckland. Printed by Tara McLeod. Robert and Barbara Stewart Library and Archives, Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu. Presented by Alan Loney.

That said, I am always amazed at the treasures that always seemed so tucked away in our public libraries and I really do believe that libraries (in New Zealand) need to have more display areas to show the public the beautiful books and archives that otherwise are only accessible by appointment. I like the idea of combining paintings, etc. with books and archives and have a few other ideas on the boil here in Christchurch.

It would be great to see libraries in New Zealand fitted out with display galleries that are of museum standards, light and climate controlled so that this could happen.

The exhibition closes on September 23. Visit the exhibition website for more information.

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