25 May 2016

For Art's Sake

Auckland has an amazing and diverse network of galleries and artist studios. On the eve of the city’s annual Art Fair, we caught up with art dealer, Anna Miles.


Auckland Art Fair opens its doors to the public today at The Cloud and runs for five days, until Sunday.

It’s the country’s premier showcase for contemporary art, bringing together 40 galleries from Australia, New Zealand, South America and the Pacific. One of the 40 exhibitors showcasing their artists is Anna Miles, a fervent art dealer and part-time lecturer in visual arts.

Anna opened her gallery in 2003, on High Street. She absolutely loved it there until the street’s retail tenants were lured away to the Britomart. For Anna, who never intended moving from her elegant west-facing room in the Canterbury Arcade, this set off a search for a new home. It turns out she didn’t have to look far.

“When we first moved into our townhouse, just off Upper Queen Street, I had no intention of opening a gallery at home.”

“But, when I thought about it, I was living in a gallery district and no longer working in one. Something had to change; I decided to relocate my business to home. I had the room, I had the light, and I had the outlook.”

Anna’s light-filled, first-floor gallery looks out over the tranquil remnants of Symonds St cemetery. It’s safe to say you wouldn’t stumble across this living room-sized gallery unless you knew it was here. “It’s a destination, not a walk-in,” she smiles.

Anna Miles Gallery represents established and emerging New Zealand artists across a wide range of mediums.

Anna Miles Gallery represents established and emerging New Zealand artists across a wide range of mediums.

“This is such an interesting area, historically,” says, Anna. “Before the motorway, in the 1950’s, K Road was a central meeting point for many Aucklanders. It was the go-to part of town with department stores and five cinemas.” And it’s set to become that again. The mass of new apartments along the ridgeline and the regeneration of old housing stock is bringing people back into the area. 

Anna loves the architecture of St Kevin’s Arcade, and the Green Dolphin second-hand bookshop and Fort Greene sandwich shop within. Her two young boys go to school in neighbourhood, and there are a host of great galleries, all within a ten-minute walk of her front door.

Taking things back, I ask Anna where it all began?

“I’ve been an art critic and I teach art. I decided that I didn’t want to become a full-time academic, and that it would be more critical to be a champion than a critic.”

“I went to art school, but didn’t have the right focus to be an artist. You have to be utterly fascinated by your own work and committed to it – to the exclusion of much else. Incredible conviction is required. I was always very interested in everyone else’s art. I started writing a lot about art and realised it was the connections that really interested me.”

Anna has kept teaching and is very interested in staying involved with art schools and really young artists. So is that where she finds new talent?

“No, it’s not actually. I don’t think art schools are particularly happy hunting grounds for dealers. I completely pursue what I want to do. I show the work that I think is important to show.”

Sarah McIntyre is a District Nurse from King Country. Here are four photographs from her collection, Observations of a Rural Nurse.

Sarah McIntyre is a District Nurse from King Country. Here are four photographs from her collection, Observations of a Rural Nurse.

Some of Anna’s most recent artists have interesting histories. Currently showing at her gallery is the debut exhibition of Sara McIntyre, a district nurse and photographer in the King Country, born in 1951. Anna shows, Lucien Rizos, a highly regarded photographer who has been a violin player in the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra since 1974; and Patricia Bosshard Browne, a successful South Island art dealer who became a weaver after closing her gallery in 1990. At Auckland Art Fair Anna will show a painting on 99 pipi shells by Sarah Hillary, Principal Conservator at Auckland Art Gallery.

Floating is a painting on 99 individual Pipi shells by Sarah Hillary.

Floating is a painting on 99 individual Pipi shells by Sarah Hillary.

“I’m committed to working hard for the artists and championing them until they get taken seriously.”

"I work with the Wellington ceramic artist Richard Stratton. When I first met Richard, in 2005, he was sort of marooned, in the sense he didn’t have a foothold in the visual art world, but I thought his work was extraordinary. He’s gone on to make incredible work and is now represented in many museum collections. He’s gone from strength to strength, and I think that’s fantastic.”

An array of jugs, vases and vessels from Impending Situations, by ceramic artist Richard Stratton.

An array of jugs, vases and vessels from Impending Situations, by ceramic artist Richard Stratton.

As you would expect, the rest of Anna’s home is as much a gallery space as her studio – only certainly not as restrained. Is she a collector, herself?

“The reason I value art is because it gives you an opportunity to see things from the point of view of another. I’m interested in artists as individuals. I’m not interested in artists who are fashionable.”

“I live with an absolute passionate collector, and I have editorial tendencies, too” she laughs. “When the acquisition impulse visits me, I’m always delighted because it’s a very special thing. It’s quite rare, takes no account of budget, and is based on a deep-seated need to connect with something.”

Auckland Art Fair runs from May 25th to May 30th at The Cloud

Anna Miles Gallery 


This article is part of a series brought to you by Angela Saunders featuring some of the characters and personalities that live and work in our neighbourhood. 


Anna’s Auckland Art Tour.

Auckland Museum Te Paenga Hika
The Domain

2 Kitchener St

Sir George Grey Special Collections
Second Floor, Central City Library, 44-46 Lorne St

71 Upper Queen St

Ivan Anthony
Level 1, 312 Karangahape Rd

TUR Studio
486 K Rd

8 Ponsonby Road

Gus Fisher Gallery
74 Shortland St

Cordy's Fine Art and Antique Auctioneers
180 Gt South Rd




Return to blog

More recent posts

11 October 2018

Auckland 2050 – Nirvana or Pipe Dream?

Now we finally have a landmark document addressing Auckland’s major long-term population, prosperity and environmental challenges, but does it successfully deal with our need for another 313…

4 October 2018

Manna From Heaven

Award-winning baker Patrick Welzenbach talks about his unique ancestry and what makes Daily Bread, his new bakery in Point Chevalier, so special.

4 October 2018

Learning Curve

This truly unique home, located deep in the heart of the Waitakere ranges, is the culmination of one man’s vision to create an efficient and sustainable lifestyle – and he built it all himse…

27 September 2018

Creative Hub

Ponsonby’s Studio One Toi Tū is a vibrant community-based centre for makers and thinkers in many different creative disciplines. So, whether you’re five or 95, you’re welcome to come along a…

27 September 2018

Towering Success

Scope Strata Management is delighted to announce that it has won the contract to manage Seascape; a state-of-the-art building that is set to become New Zealand’s tallest residential tower.

13 September 2018

Celebrating Success

The awards kept coming for Ray White Damerell Group at Connect – White & Partners’ annual leadership conference, held recently on the Gold Coast and attended by over 2,500 agents and brokers…

13 September 2018

A New Level of Service

When the 57-level Pacifica residential tower comes on line in 2020, it will set a new benchmark for luxury, high-rise living in Auckland.

6 September 2018

Tick All the Boxes

Ray White Damerell Group’s General Counsel, Elizabeth Rabier, talks about the common legal matters you should cross off your list ahead of putting your property on the market.

30 August 2018

Sense of Theatre

Actor, director and long-time Ponsonby resident Paul Gittins chats about his latest theatre project, his long and illustrious acting career, and of course his favourite Auckland suburb.


Contact Us

Are you interested in knowing more about one of these articles? Please fill out the form below to get in contact with us.