The Aigantighe art gallery and sculpture garden
Timaru’s Aigantighe Art Gallery on Wai-iti Road is home to an extensive permanent collection of New Zealand and international art. You can wander through the sculpture garden and head into the gallery to view featured works from its permanent collection or one of the feature exhibitions. The gallery is open every day, except Mondays, and admission is free.
The Aigantighe Art Gallery was established in 1956 and is one of Timaru's unique attractions for visitors. The gallery occupies the Edwardian mansion of James and Helen Grant, who not only gave the building and surrounding gardens to the people of South Canterbury, but also bequeathed their private art collection. A modern wing was added in 1978 to accommodate larger exhibitions and art storage.
- Historic house was built in 1905
- The name of Aigantighe means ‘welcome to our home’ or ‘home of welcome’
- The house was built as a retirement home Alexander and Helen Grant
- It was built on the eastern part of what was Timaru’s northern cemetery reserve, which originally marked the northern boundary of the Timaru Borough
- Alexander and Helen Grant had farmed Gray’s Hill Station in Burke’s Pass since 1881 before retiring to Timaru
- The House is in Queen Anne Revival Style
- Alexander Grant died on July 21, 1920 at the age of 89, this wife Helen died on the same day July 21, 1955 at the age of 101
- James Grant, the son of Alexander and Helen Grant gifted the house in 1955
- It officially opened as an art gallery on 16 August 1956
- The art gallery extension opened on September 9, 1978
- The extension was design by Ronald Doig, the same architect as the South Canterbury Museum
- The build received a bronze award from the NZ Institute of Architects
- The Aigantighe is set in just over two acres of gardens
- The gardens are home to over 25 sculptures including works by Fred Graham, Buck Nin, and Pat Foster.
- Thirteen of these sculptures were the result of an international Stone Carving Symposium that was held at Maungati in South Canterbury in February 1990.
- The concept for the symposium was developed by Darcy Nicholas, Lady Elworthy, Sir Peter Elworthy, Dawn Sommerville and Phillipa Graham over a two year period.
- The final line-up of sculptors that attended the symposium included Arnold Wilson, Bernard Matamera, Matt Pine, Locardia Ndandarika, Bernard Takawira, Albert McCarthy, Atsuo Okamoto, Fred Graham, Buck Nin, Dan de Har, Darcy Nicolas, John Bevan Ford and Nicholas Mukomberanwa.
- The sculptors used a stone known as Mt Somers Stone, a fine white limestone that was quarried from the Vincent Lime Quarry. At the conclusion of the symposium the finished sculptures were gifted to the nation, and the garden surrounding the Aigantighe Art Gallery was chosen as the site for their ongoing display.
- Today the Aigantighe Gallery has a collection 1735 artworks
- The oldest painting dates from c.1665