About Gus Fisher Gallery
About Gus Fisher Gallery
Located at the top of Auckland’s first main street, Shortland Street, the building that is now Gus Fisher Gallery has been a centre of creative innovation for decades. Opened in 1935 as the Southern Hemisphere’s largest purpose-built broadcasting studios, 74 Shortland Street was home to the 1YA radio station. Described as a “magnificent broadcasting palace”, the studios were at the cutting edge of technology and architecture. A striking neo-Romanesque brick façade is softened by elegant and intricate Art Deco features inside. When experimental television transmissions began in New Zealand in the 1950s, 74 Shortland Street was the ideal location for this new form of broadcasting. On 1 June 1960, a team of thirteen staff worked to broadcast the first night of official programming live to the Auckland population with a rudimentary set-up in the Shortland Street Studios. The programme of local and international content was a huge success and Shortland Street Studios became the home of our new form of entertainment.
Successful productions such as C’mon and numerous telethons were hosted in Shortland Street’s Studio One. Even with the introduction of the purpose-built facilities at Avalon in Lower Hutt for TV One, 74 Shortland Street prevailed as an important centre for television until the late 1980’s.
TVNZ eventually left the building in the 1990s, and 74 Shortland Street evolved into a music recording studio. Some of New Zealand’s most celebrated musicians favoured the building’s recording facilities including Dave Dobbyn, Che Fu and the Muttonbirds. By the time the building was acquired by The University of Auckland, 74 Shortland Street had played home to a wealth of well-known, and loved presenters, performers, actors and musicians who have shaped our history as a nation.
In 2001, The University of Auckland’s decision to convert the building into their new performing arts school and art gallery ensured that 74 Shortland Street continued to be a home for the country’s emerging talent. Now, we honour the progressive and pioneering broadcasting history of the building by showcasing artists’ film and video as part of our socially responsive contemporary art programming.
About Gus Fisher
Gus Fisher, ONZM (1920 – 2010)
Gus Fisher Gallery was founded due to the generous support of local fashion designer, manufacturer and philanthropist Gus Fisher.
Gus Fisher rose to prominence as a fashion designer in the wake of World War II, when Christian Dior’s ‘New Look’ was sweeping through Europe and the United States. As managing director of his fashion label El-Jay, Fisher signed a deal in 1954 to produce Christian Dior’s designs under licence at his factory in Auckland. At a time when conservative British fashion trends were widely worn in New Zealand, Gus Fisher’s innovative Parisian designs and partnership with Dior were pioneering in the New Zealand fashion industry. El-Jay produced inspiring clothing for 50 years, winning accolades such as the Best Pure Wool Garment, Best Wool Knit Garment, International Award at the 1971 EVE Fashion Awards for a black velvet full-length coat which the judges felt “would be acclaimed anywhere in the world”. El-Jay became the longest holder of the Dior licence in the world, reflecting the high quality of the clothing which the label produced.
Gus Fisher was also a keen lover of art, and extensively collected 20th century artworks from the early 1960s onwards. He collected numerous works by well-known Aotearoa New Zealand artists including Frances Hodgkins, John Weeks and Rita Angus, as well as contemporary figurative painters Pat Hanly, Jeffery Harris, Colin McCahon and Tony Fomison. In 2009, Gus Fisher became an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for his services to philanthropy. In 2010, he and his wife Irene received the fifth annual Arts Foundation of New Zealand award for their patronage and contribution to the national arts.
In 2010, the Gus Fisher Gallery held an exhibition celebrating the success of Gus Fisher’s fashion brand titled ‘Looking Terrific: The Story of El-Jay’, curated by Doris De Pont of the New Zealand Fashion Museum.
Alongside establishing Gus Fisher Gallery, Fisher supported the establishment of the Kenneth Myers Centre, the Auckland Museum Redevelopment Programme, the Auckland Art Gallery, the McCahon House Trust, the Auckland Festival, and the University of Auckland Medical School.
Gus Fisher with his wife, Irene Fisher
Curator of Contemporary Art
Lisa Beauchamp is committed to the understanding of contemporary art as a valuable and fundamental tool that anyone can access and enjoy. Lisa brings to her role of Curator of Contemporary Art over ten years of curatorial, programming and project management experience.
Prior to Gus Fisher Gallery she worked at a number of UK arts institutions, most recently as Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery where she curated exhibitions with internationally renowned artists such as Jeremy Deller and John Stezaker, significantly increasing audiences for contemporary art by devising meaningful and relevant projects.
Governed by her dedication to intersectional Feminist frameworks, Lisa takes a fluid approach to curatorial exhibition making with an overall belief that galleries can be enjoyable, reflective and self-directed areas of experience as opposed to static white cube spaces.
Public Programmes and Engagement Officer
Robbie Handcock is an artist born in Olongapo, Philippines. Since graduating with an MFA from Massey University, Robbie has exhibited and written for exhibitions across Aotearoa. In his own painting practice, Robbie is interested in representations of queer sexuality, taste and domesticity. He has developed his curatorial and programming interests as a facilitator with artist-run-initiative play_station, involvement in projects at Auckland Art Fair and HOBIENNALE in Tasmania, Australia, and curated the group exhibition The Inner Lives of Islands at Te Tuhi in 2021.
Hannah is passionate about helping visitors navigate socio-cultural issues through contemporary art. She has a Master of Arts in Art History and has previously worked at the Wallace Arts Trust and as a teaching assistant in Art History at The University of Auckland. In 2018 she co-curated the survey show The Third Space: Ambiguity in the Art of Graham Fletcher at Gus Fisher Gallery.
Briana Woolliams is passionate about the ability of art to bring people together, nurture new learning and connect people more deeply with the world around them. Since graduating with a Master of Fine Arts at Elam School of Fine Arts, her arts roles in public engagement and education have see her work with children, youth and other community groups in various arts institutions. Briana is also the Learning Experiences Outside of the Classroom Facilitator at Te Tuhi.
Alex studied spatial design at AUT, where he gained an insight into technical and digital drawings. He has been applying these skills in his work as a creative contractor for the last four years. Alex has worked across theatre, public activations, festivals, exhibitions, and film and television productions. He makes furniture in his spare time, salvaging waste wood to make objects of meaning and value, and teaches occasional woodworking classes.
Gus Fisher Gallery Advisory Board
Chair of the Board: Provost, Professor Valerie Linton
Curator of Contemporary Art, Lisa Beauchamp
Dean – Faculty of Arts, Professor Robert Greenberg
Head of Elam School of Fine Art, Associate Professor Peter Shand
Head of the Discipline of Art History, Dr Ngarino Ellis
Director, Auckland University Press, Dr Sam Elworthy
University Librarian, Mrs Sue Roberts
Senior Lecturer, Dr Caroline Vercoe
Associate Professor, Peter Robinson
Mr Michael Fisher
Ms Melanie Roger
Mrs Anna Nathan