Business as (un)usual Nº 03: Parlour Projects
Interviewed by Adam Bryce
Extreme times like these are renowned for changing the way that businesses and industries operate — creating innovative productivity methods and new ways to communicate and manufacture.
Here, we speak to Sophie Wallace, director and curator of Hawke’s Bay art gallery, Parlour Projects.
Have you implemented any changes that you will keep post-lockdown?
Our biggest and most exciting change is the development of a new website, which will be launched next month. The lockdown quickly made us realise that more of our operations needed to be online, not only to withstand situations like this, but also to be more up-to-date with other industries. Our new website will feature an ‘Online Viewing Room’, whereby certain exhibitions will take place exclusively online (rather than in the physical gallery space). In addition, it will have an e-commerce function so that artworks can be purchased directly through the website. It will also be much more functional than our current website. The lockdown prompted us to get onto this much more quickly than we otherwise might have, and having that extra time to do it has been so helpful too.
What have been your biggest take-away lessons from this time?
Personally, I have found this slower pace so rewarding. It has made me realise that I don’t need to be so active — going from place to place — in order to have a productive and satisfying day. Without the ability to plan too far into the future, it has also encouraged me to be more present and to enjoy each day.
“It is so important for artists to be able to continue to produce, present and sell their work no matter what is going on around them.”
In what ways has the lockdown forced you to adjust future plans for your business?
Before the lockdown, I never would have imagined that a pandemic would bring the majority of businesses in New Zealand to a complete standstill. Going forward, we will certainly have a risk plan to mitigate any similar situations that might arise. Our new website is one such way of relying less on our physical space and embracing a broader audience online. It also means that artists can continue to produce work for exhibitions (even if they are virtual exhibitions). It is so important for artists to be able to continue to produce, present and sell their work no matter what is going on around them.
Tell us about the low moments and successes you’ve experienced and how they’ve affected your vision.
It was disappointing having to close our exhibition by Grace Wright three weeks early, however we completely understood that lockdown was a necessary move for the wellbeing of our country. We used this time to develop a further ‘Cultivate’ group, our art collecting initiative. We were so excited with the positive response to this group, which filled up overnight. We have also had a higher volume of enquiries during this time. These things made us realise that, despite the current uncertainty, people still see value in art. I think people have had more time at home with their partners and families to look through artworks and discuss them, whereas sometimes in the busyness of normal life it can be hard to find the time to do this.