Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington
Gate 3, Kelburn Parade
Wellington 6140
New Zealand

Still looking: Peter McLeavey and the last photograph


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Published 2018 by Te Pātaka Toi Adam Art Gallery at Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington
48 pages
255 x 210 mm, softcover, with colour illustrations
Edited by Christina Barton
Designed by Alice Bonifant
Printed by Milne Print

Still looking: Peter McLeavey and the last photograph is the first exhibition to fully canvass Peter McLeavey’s personal collection of photography. It reveals a private passion nurtured over many years, a passion fostered alongside his ‘day job’ running his humble but hugely influential gallery in Cuba Street, Wellington. The exhibition is the outcome of a project to catalogue this collection, undertaken in the wake of his passing in 2015 by photohistorians Geoffrey Batchen and Deidra Sullivan. They have kindly been given access to this rich compilation by Hilary McLeavey, the gallerist’s widow. Together they have compiled detailed information on the many rare prints by leading photographers of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, which Peter framed and hung in the family home in Thorndon. They have also uncovered a wealth of historical images, catalogues and correspondence that demonstrate the depth of McLeavey’s interest.  In curating the exhibition, Batchen and Sullivan have endeavoured to convey the full range of McLeavey’s collecting, including more than ninety works out of the approximately 120 that make up the entire collection.. They have also chosen to include material that sheds light on Peter’s interests and motives, and the relationships he forged with specialist dealers who shared his love of the medium. 

Adam Art Gallery Te Pātaka Toi is extremely fortunate to be hosting this exhibition, which again proves our interest in delving into the unique cultural life of the city in which we are based. We thank Geoffrey and Deidra for their assiduous work in assembling the exhibition and for the knowledge they bring to their reading of Peter’s endeavour. We are very grateful to Hilary McLeavey, who has generously lent these works to the University, and supported our efforts to prepare them for exhibition. We also thank the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa for the loan of two works that supplement the presentation. There are many individuals and organisations who have assisted this project to whom we are sincerely grateful: Peter Ireland, McLeavey’s long-standing ally in thinking intensely about photography; Luit and Jan Bieringa who have kindly supplied footage from their documentary, The man in the hat; Jill Trevelyan, Peter’s biographer; and Pippa Wisheart, the Art History Programme’s administrator. The curators are grateful to their respective insitutions: Victoria University of Wellington and the Wellington Institute of Technology for supporting their research. And, finally, we acknowledge the support of the Ronald Woolf Memorial Endowment, without which this publication would not have been possible.