Art collection returns to NZ after 60 years abroad

A unique art collection has returned to New Zealand after 60 years abroad.

The pieces were created by students at the Auckland Art School in the early 1960s, before disappearing abroad.

Artists Gretchen Albrecht and Geoff Thornley say they had no idea their original work still existed.

“It makes me emotional looking at it again… it just really took me to another part of my childhood very strongly,” Thornley says.

“It’s great, it’s kind of a revelation and reminder of a very important part of one’s life as an artist,” says Albrecht.

That’s because 60 years ago their former art teacher Kurt von Maier moved to us and took the pieces with him.

He died in 2011 and the collection, fully preserved, was recently discovered and donated to art historian Hamish Keith.

“These can never be separated… together they are a cultural object, much more important than the individual works,” he says.

Keith, in turn, donated it to the art gallery on Waiheke Island in Auckland.

“We said yes please! and we’re really looking forward to showing it, exhibiting it and also making it a traveling exhibit that can go to other galleries,” said Linda Chalmers, director of Waiheke art gallery.

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