On Collecting, Camaraderie and the Coromandel: In Conversation with Belinda Wiley
New to The Little Gallery team since the opening of our second branch in Whangamata, Belinda Wiley has already made an impression on the local community. While not an artist herself, she is a passionate lover of art as well as an experienced art collector. Ahead of her talk at our Whangamata gallery next month, we talked with Belinda to learn more about her background and experiences as a dedicated collector of art!
Belinda Wiley (left) with gallery owner Sarah Holden and artist Bernie Ross (right)
Originally from Wellington, Belinda has been living in Auckland for nearly 30 years. She’s been visiting Whangamata, Coromandel regularly since she was in her early twenties, a place she discovered was a perfect fit for her and her family with its laid-back coastal lifestyle.
“When our eldest son was 14 years old we started renting a bach to house the teenagers over the New Year period. Our whole family fell in love with Whangamata."
“Our kids are all adults now and two years ago we bought a cute little bach in Exeter Road which we absolutely love. We split our time between Auckland and Whangamata. Our kids love visiting as they have great teenage memories.”
It was inevitable that she would eventually decide to return to live here permanently, in time for the upcoming Summer.
"My husband is a keen surfer and I love to do yoga and walk the beach with our cavoodle Chloe.”
Art had always been a passion for Belinda, and when the opportunity to begin her own collection came about, she took action. In 1995 she became a part of an art collecting group, now over 20 years strong.
"We were a group of 15 women from all walks of life. We each put in an amount of money each year to purchase artworks, which we take turns to have in our homes, as well as for gallery and studio visits in different regions."
"We have a constitution, and at our AGM we vote in a chairperson, secretary, treasurer, and someone who allocates the pieces every three months. We set our dates for the year and members each take turns to be on the buying committee and organise group events."
The group's shared interest in contemporary New Zealand art has shaped their collection to boast works by over a dozen New Zealand art heavyweights including Ralph Hotere, Lisa Reihana and Rohan Wealleans.
Currently the Chair of the group, Belinda has led the group's approach to collecting in a new direction, with more of a focus towards supporting new or emerging artists.
"It's making our art group go and visit all the art schools and way more galleries than we have ever done in our 20 years. It is so fun and so lovely to meet these artists starting on their careers straight from art school.”
This collegial aspect of collecting as a group is another element which makes it so appealing – regular gallery visits, trips away and the annual Christmas event with partners has helped to maintain the strong camaraderie to which Belinda attributes the group's ongoing success.
"We all get on well - something we've heard can be rare with large groups."
While disagreements may be unavoidable, Belinda acknowledges the team's great communication in coming to resolutions - "We always refer to the constitution, which has clear guidelines of our purpose and how we make decisions."
When she's not busy with the art group or her business working as a health and wellness coach, Belinda can be found at The Little Gallery Whangamata.
"I was so excited to join The Little Gallery team and love working with some of the local artists. I'm loving connecting with the community."
"My aim is to assist people with their choice of artwork, and am happy to offer my time to see their space and make suggestions if required."
"The art on the Coromandel is so varied. I really feel The Little Gallery has something for everyone!"
Join us from 4pm at The Little Gallery Whangamata on Saturday 1 September for Belinda’s talk on Art Collecting, where she will share her experiences and insights as a member of an art group and offer an insider’s guide to starting your very own art collection!
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