media release–28/7/16

New Zealanders have raised $1 million through art sales and donations in response to a national fundraising campaign launched on Anzac Day last year as part of country’s commemorations of the First World War.

This is believed to be a record amount raised through art for any cause in New Zealand history and possibly also represents the largest single donation ever made to a cause by a New Zealand artist. New York based New Zealander, Max Gimblett ONZM gifted thousands of the Remembrance artworks, each based on one of seven designs hand screenprinted onto pure brass.

The million dollars raised, net of all costs, is available to assist with the possible restoration of St David’s Church, built in Auckland’s Khyber Pass Road in Grafton following the First World War, as a memorial to members of the congregation who had served overseas and known as “the Soldier’s Church”.

The Minister for Art, Culture and Heritage, Hon Maggie Barry, was one of a number of speakers at an event at the church today (eds Sunday July 24) to announce the total amount of money raised, and called on her broadcasting skills to interview Max Gimblett as the centrepiece for the public function.

On Anzac Day last year, the Gimblett quatrefoils formed a shimmering golden façade to the historic St David’s Church in one of the most dramatic art installations ever seen in New Zealand, before being sold to homes across New Zealand and abroad,and going on display at Te Papa museum in Wellington.

The project has formed a key part of New Zealand’s WWI commemorations, which are overseen by Minister Barry, and raised public awareness of the potential of inner-city St David’s to play an expanded role in the Auckland community.

Paul Baragwanath, spokesperson for the Friends of St David’s Trust, says support came from all over the country as New Zealand businesses, organisations and individuals purchased the brass quatrefoils –somewhat similar to the shape of an ANZAC poppy – as permanent “artworks of remembrance”.

“This has all been made possible by the incredible generosity of Max Gimblett, who donated these artworks to us at no cost and whose international reputation as a New York based Kiwi artist has helped drive local and international sales,” said Mr Baragwanath.

Mr Gimblett (80), who received the ONZM last year, grew up in Grafton and attended services at St David’s during the ministry of The Very Rev Owen Baragwanath. The artist’s Auckland representative, Gow Langsford Gallery, donated all its commission to the cause and the St David’s congregation made the brick church available for the major art installation on its façade.

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Mr Baragwanath says project costs have been kept to a minimum through New Zealanders donating their time and skills for a cause which has caught the public’s imagination as New Zealand continues to observe the centenary of the 1914 –18 war which made such a big impact on the country and touched many families.

Representatives of the Government, Auckland Council, Waitemata Board, iwi, the New Zealand Defence Force, RSA, New Zealand Sappers, and the Auckland community attended functions at St David’s as the campaign progressed and descendants of Cyril Bassett, the only New Zealander to be awarded a Victoria Cross at Gallipoli, were presented with a symbolic quatrefoil by current VC holder Willie Apiata. Bassett was a Sapper and married on the site of St David’s in 1926 – a year before the Memorial church was built and dedicated to his comrades.

The Kamo Brick and Oamaru Stone St David’s Church, built in 1927 contains magnificent leadlight, memorial windows recognising the service of office bearers, soldiers and church mission involvement. It needs earthquake strengthening and restoration before it can play an expanded role in the community.

“St David’s has already served for nearly 100 years and has much to offer future generations in a variety of capacities, fulfilling its roles both as a church and as one of the country’s major war memorials, said Mr Baragwanath. “Discussions about a potential expanded role which St David’s and associated land and buildings could play in the local community, if sufficient funds are raised, are already under way with the Presbyterian Church.

From the support our initial campaign has received, it seems this would be a very popular outcome with Aucklanders.”

Issued on behalf of the Friends of St David’s Trust 24/7/16. For further information or comment, please contact Mr Baragwanath on 021 521 574.