As you know there is more than meets the eye on at the Aigantighe. As well as curating exhibitions the staff manage an incredible permanent art collection, accumulated over the last century. Some of the artworks arrived in less than ideal state and are part of the Aigantighe restoration programme. As part of our on-going contribution to the future of the Aigantighe, we have raised funds to pay a professional conservator to bring these artworks back to their former glory so that they are of exhibition standard. The artworks are all delicate paper works that include Etchings, Watercolour, Pastel, Pen and ink, all except for one were donated to the Gallery.

Thanks to your support, the Friends have raised over $20,273.56 to restore artworks. The money was raised through the fundraising efforts of the committee via raffles, donations and grants. It is important to the Friends that the artwork will be available to not only to inspire the people of today but future generations at Aigantighe. There are still many artworks in the Aigantighe's collection that need the restorers attention.


Please make a donation top help us restore significant artworks in the Aigantighe's collection... GOLD $500  SILVER $250 BRONZE $100. Donate via Internet banking... This is our bank account: Friends of Aigantighe Art Gallery SBS Bank: 03-1355-0733195-000. Please include your name as a reference so we know who the funds are from). OR Send a cheque... Po Box 780, Timaru, 7940.

In July 2020 we gathered to welcome home "The Mother" 

We were absolutely rapt to receive funds to restore a very significant artwork in the Aigantighe Collection. In July we gathered to welcome home "The Mother" and see it restored to it's former glory, preserved for future generations to enjoy and be inspired by.  Many of us will connect with the feeling of tucking our children in for the night, or even remember our parents doing the same. As well as an important work in its narrative and beauty, the history of how it came to be in our collection is also fascinating, and really helps highlight the pay-it-forward feeling of early Timaru-vians to establish the collection at the Aigantighe.

From the team at the Aigantighe: 
One of the original artworks in the Aigantighe Art Gallery’s permanent collection, Thomas Kennington’s The Mother, 1895, has recently returned after being restored by the Gallery’s painting conservator in Christchurch, Olivia Pitts. The conservation of this large painting has been sponsored by the Friends of the Aigantighe by donations from Footes Chartered Accountants and the shipping costs covered by a Friends of the Aigantighe member. 
The British artist, Benjamin Thomas Kennington (1856 – 1916), was academically trained – he studied at the Liverpool School of Art, the Royal College of Art, and the Acadèmie Julian in Paris in the 1870s. He was a successful portraitist and genre painter, and many of his paintings are described as Victorian narrative paintings. Capturing a story with an underlying moral message, Kennington often painted as a social activist depicting scenes of the plight of the urban poor in London – his paintings had titles such as Homeless (1890), A Pinch of Poverty (1889), Windowed and Fatherless (1888). 
But, The Mother is a celebration of family values and the role of a woman within the family. It is worth noting that the artist’s wife, Elise, passed away at the age of 34, the same year Kennington produced this painting (and the couple did have children). While the artist draws the viewer’s attention to the importance of marriage as a family value by having the woman’s left hand and her wedding ring bathed in light and placed just below the centre of the picture plane, he also uses the light source in the painting symbolically. The lamp or candle metaphorically represents the woman’s essence and influence – as a wife and mother – it is her that lights up the children’s bed, with her warm touch, and her noble stature, as she guides and comforts all in her care with her nurturing and protective presence. 
Kennington exhibited his paintings with the prestigious and academic Royal Academy in London – he showed artworks there from 1880 right up until his death in 1916. The Mother was one of his paintings exhibited there in 1895, the same year that he finished the work. Seen as a British artwork of significance that could inspire the public of Timaru, The Mother was presented to the South Canterbury Art Society in 1914 by the former Mayor of Timaru, James Craigie. The Society had begun collecting artworks for Timaru’s own Public Art Gallery – which came to being in 1956 after the Aigantighe House and Gardens were gifted by the Grant family.

See Painting conservator Olivia Pitts discusses Thomas Kennington's paint "The Mother"

Francis Shurrock. The Gymnast, c.1927. Bronze Sculpture. 570mm x 160mm x 120mm.

CONSERVATION REQUIRED: The Gymnast has corrosion that needs to be stabilized by a conservator. The corrosion is located on the figure’s legs and feet, and on the plinth that the figure stands on. (See images below)


FRIENDS ArtRestorationFlyer A4 Francis Shurrock 180822 Details



  • DON Bruce, Four Peak
  • HOLMES Randolph, K2 Karakoram
  • HOLMES Randolph, Lonely Gory of Everest
  • PERRETT John Douglas, Mount Cook from Lake Pukaki
  • UNKNOWN, Cattle
  • WRIGHT Walter, Return of the canoes

Work on paper:

  • COX David, Landscape
  • HOPE Ester, Albi Cathedral
  • NEVILL-SMITH Hugh, Mount Cook
  • STACEY Walter Sydney: Sheep sharing in a Barn

Thanks to your support, the Friends have raised enough funds to restore following...

  1. Albert James Rae Caroline Bay 1923. Etching on paper. Restoration cost $233.30.
  2. Albert James Rae (1885–1971). Boats. Etching on paper. Restoration cost $149.35.
  3. Betty Curnow (1911–2005). Power and Glory. 1971. Etching on paper. Restoration cost $268.75.
  4. Frank Short (1857 – 1945). Broadstairs Pier. Etching on paper. Restoration cost $198.25.
  5. Frederick Aldridge (1850–1933) Brig Sailing into Port. 1921. Watercolour on paper.Restoration cost $395.45.
  6. G. L. Brockhurst (1890-1978). An Old Corsican. 1921. Etching, drypoint & roulette on paper. Restoration cost $232.05.
  7. George Lambert (1873–1930). Untitled. Pen and ink drawing on paper. Restoration cost $333.65.
  8. Giovanni Piranesi (1720–78). Pyramid of Caius Cestus. c.1745. Etching on paper. Restoration cost $343.40.
  9. James Greig. Untitled – Portrait. Etching on paper. Restoration cost $350.85.
  10. Leonard Squirrell (1893–1979). Untitled – Landscape. Etching and drypoint on paper. Restoration cost $209.05.
  11. Sir James Guthrie (1859–1930). Navvy. 1890. Pastel on paper. Restoration cost $314.05.
  12. Sydney L Thompson. Untitled Fishing Boat On the River Staithes. 1900 Oil on fabric on stretcher. 405 x 510 mm. Restoration cost $900.00.
  13. Unknown. Alexander Grant. Pencil and watercolour on cardboard. Restoration cost $155.00.
  14. William Menzies Gibb. Untitled Landscape, Timaru Harbour. 1888. Oil on fabric on stretcher. 490 x 680 mm. Restoration cost $1,100.00.
  15. William Greene. The Unemployed. 1912. Oil on canvas. Restoration cost $1,500.00.
  16. Vincent Waagrez. The Brook. Oil on canvas. Restoration cost $2000
  17. Don Binney. Green Autumn Te Henga. 1965. Oil on Board. 1220x112 Restoration cost $1,650.00

  18. Francis Shurrock. The Gymnast, c.1927. Bronze Sculpture. 570mm x 160mm x 120mm. $500 Contribution towards restoration.
  19. Thomas Kennington (1856-1916). The Mother, 1895. Oil on canvas $2200


In 2020 the Friends also gifted $12,000 for storage draws.



 Before and after restoration of Fishing Boat On the River Staithes

FRIENDS Restoration SydneyThompson BeforeAfter

ABOVE: Before and After Conservation: Sydney L Thompson. Untitled Fishing Boat On the River Staithes. 1900. Oil on fabric on stretcher. 405 x 510 mm.

There were paint chips missing along the top edge, at the lower and upper right corner. There was discolouration all over the surface from dirt and dust. There was a small hole on the upper left from the centre and there were several pin holes above the head of the men on the boat. The verso of the canvas was brown with discolouration. There was foxing all over which consists of small darkish brown spots. Now after the much needed conservation, the artwork is protected from further decay, looks amazing and is now at an exhibition standard.


 Before and after restoration of Timaru Harbour 1888

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ABOVE:After Conservation... William Menzies Gibb. Untitled Landscape, Timaru Harbour. 1888. Oil on fabric on stretcher. 490 x 680 mm

The surface area of the painting was visibly dirty. It had discolouration throughout the surface from dirt, dust and old varnish. There were fly spots all over the surface. The work had sustained impact damage in the past resulting in a hole right from the centre which has been patched in the past. The surface area had cracking all over. There was paint loss on the right of centre. The verso of the canvas was brown with discolouration. There was foxing along the left, right and bottom edges. And there was a dark brown spot on the left from the centre. Now after the much needed conservation, the artwork is protected from further decay, looks amazing and is now at an exhibition standard.


Before and after Conservation of Boats - an etching on paper

199717 rae albert james boats BeforeAfter

ABOVE: Before and After Conservation... Albert James Rae (1884-1971). Boats. Etching on paper. Before and after conservation.