Watch This Space

John Gow and Gary Langsford opened Gow Langsford Gallery in Auckland more than three decades ago. Today, their legacy continues in new spaces.

Words: Emil McAvoy

Photography: Tobias Kraus

Gow Langsford Gallery will soon be launching a new gallery space and visual arts hub in the Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland suburb of Onehunga. The premises will contain an exquisite new gallery space, two dedicated viewing rooms, artist studios, and a publicly accessible library. This will run alongside their longstanding gallery location on Kitchener Street in Central Auckland. As part of this transition, additional spaces Gow Langsford has run over the years on Lorne Street and Queen Street are no longer operational.

After 35 highly successful years in business, gallerists John Gow and Gary Langsford are committed to creating a legacy project that gives back to the artistic community. Their intention is to create a premier exhibition space that can offer museum-grade exhibitions in a private context, a hub for community engagement, and development opportunities for promising artists – and not necessarily limited to those on the gallery’s exhibition roster. Further to this, the development will assist in spurring growth in Onehunga, which is going through a period of urban renewal.

The site for this development is an industrial building in Princes Street, which was commissioned in 1958 by Polish businesswoman, philanthropist, and arts patron, Helena Rubinstein. While it was constructed in the late 1950s, the influence of 1930s Bauhaus architecture is evident in its design. Gow Langsford has undertaken extensive refurbishing of the site, ensuring that its best features have been preserved while the building has been tastefully modernised.

While this building is ideal, finding it was a years-long enterprise. Langsford states, “I had been searching for the perfect building to establish a large gallery out of the city for several years since closing our Lorne Street space. Finding a Bauhaus-inspired 2000 square metre building in Onehunga originally commissioned by cosmetics entrepreneur and major art collector Helena Rubinstein was a dream come true. Situated halfway between the city and airport, this building will be a great asset to artists looking to exhibit larger works or installations and is easily accessible from greater Auckland.”

During decades in business, Gow Langsford has consistently raised the bar for art audiences in New Zealand. The gallery has shown some of Aotearoa New Zealand’s best-known artists, including Shane Cotton, Jacqueline Fahey, Dick Frizzell, John Pule, and Reuben Paterson. These local luminaries are shown alongside internationally renowned figures such as Katharina Grosse, Tony Cragg, Dale Frank, and Bernar Venet.

Gow states, “Being in business since the 80s, we’ve been through all of it. Cycles of boom and bust, the 1987 stock market crash, 90s recession, the GFC, and more recently, Covid. There have been some tough times, along with some good ones. Through all of it, art has continued to keep me engaged. I love working with artists and collectors. I started out in the art business in 1982, a few years before I set up Gow Langsford with Gary. Even after nearly 42 years, it is still what gets me out of bed each day.”

Due to open its doors in summer, Gow Langsford’s new premises in Onehunga looks set to generate significant interest and engagement within the visual arts community. Watch this space.

This article was originally published in Art Collector issue 106, October-December 2023. 


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