Jenny NeliganPenney Moir
Directors: Jenny Neligan and Penney Moir

What we do

Our greatest concern is to effect sales of our artists' works, to meet their needs as professional artists, to represent them to public galleries, to assist with their publications, to act as a base for them and to help create international opportunities for them.

Represented artists exhibit regularly and take part in group shows. Recently artists have been taking the opportunity to make one-work shows for our new window gallery ... each window project eagerly anticipated by the public walking or driving past.

For over 25 years Bowen Galleries has been assisting clients put together collections of significant value by New Zealand and Australian artists.

Bowen Galleries has developed strong trans-Tasman connections and enjoys relationships with colleagues and artists in Sydney and Melbourne in particular.

We have selected work by gallery artists in stock.

History and highlights

Bowen Galleries opened in Bowen Street in Sept 1981, behind Lois Daish's No 9 cafe.

Debra Bustin's opening exhibition quickly established us in the role of showing young artists. Debra's installations, which took 48-hours non-stop to set up, transformed the gallery space.

We had lots of works-on-paper shows, especially young printmakers who had studied at Ilam School of Fine Arts, Canterbury University.

The police closed down a screening of Stuart Page's images from the Springbok tour 1981 that we projected onto the walls of the Beehive in Bowen Street.

During this time works of represented artists were sold to public galleries regularly and the National Art Galleries acquisitions shows were exciting events.

In 1984 I curated New Women Artists (which toured nationally) with Dick Bett, Director of the Govett Brewster Art Gallery.

In 1983 we presented Robyn Kahukiwa's Works from Mäori Myth, part of Robyn's major touring exhibition Waahine Toa, Women in Mäori Myth mounted by the Wairarapa Arts Centre and toured by the Art Gallery Directors Council.

Bowen Galleries was forced out of the Bowen Street space in 1988 by the sale of the building to Government Property Services ... but not before we won a case against the landlords for misrepresenting our lease to the purchasers.

Neil Rowe and I visited Shona Rapira Davies near Whangarei, taking smoked hapuka wings from Kaitaia. We walked with her to the no-longer-used cowshed where she was making the figures for Nga Moreheu. I will never forget walking around the corner and seeing those women for the first time.

We relocated to 136 The Terrace and opened there in 1989, sharing the premises with Christopher Moore Gallery.

Rents were still high and they were tough years financially. There were significant budget cuts for all the institutions, beneficiary cuts in 1991, and an awareness of poverty that made it difficult to be seen to support the arts.

In 1994 we took a stand at the Melbourne Art Fair (ACAF 4). Jonah Jones, the director, was filmed for SBS Television on our stand.

Euan Macleod won the Archibald Art Award, Art Gallery of New South Wales, in 1999.

Jeff Thomson parked his corrugated-iron-clad Holden car outside the gallery. It was later purchased by Te Papa.

Both Bowen Galleries and Christopher Moore Gallery moved to 35 Ghuznee Street, opening there in December 2000.

With Sue Elliott, I curated Changing Spaces, New Zealand Sculpture Now for New Zealand Festival 2002.

Warwick Freeman received the Francoise van den Bosch Prize, Amsterdam, The Netherlands and a laureate award from the New Zealand Arts Foundation, 2002.

In 2003 Neil Rowe died. Bowen Galleries owed its inception to Neil - my partner, writer, art critic, publisher, bookseller. Many of the ideas for shows, and contacts with artists who have become great friends, came through him.

We had a stand at the Melbourne Art Fair again in 2004, where we had a lot of attention and very good sales.

Wonderland, Joanna Braithwaite opened in Dunedin in February 2005, a collaborative project between the Dunedin Public Art Gallery and Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu

In 2005 Christopher Moore closed his gallery to work full time on art valuations.

Penney Moir then joined as a business partner and together we engaged the help of Sam Martin, architect, to reconfigure the gallery, taking us into a new phase.

We re-opened in November 2005 with I disappear by Gregor Kregar

Milk Crate, our tenant set up and opened December 2005 serving the best coffee

The Ghuznee Room operated from early 2006 until closing in Sept 2009 exhibiting artists on a proposal/fee basis with all sales going to the artist. Many artists benefited from successful shows

In 2006 the Wellington Sculpture Trust commissioned Louise Purvis to make Seismic, four Carrara marble discs and installed in Bunny St

We went to the second Auckland Art Fair in 2007 showing Euan Macleod and Warwick Freeman with Louise Purvis and Jeff Thomson in the Sculpture Court

For the Melbourne Art Fair in 2008 we produced a collection of prints by artists with NZ/Aus connections called Crossing the Tasman

Our participation at the Auckland Art Fair showing Warwick Freeman, Louise Purvis, Shona Rapira Davies, Jeff Thomson, Shona Rapira Davies and Ans Westra was very successful

Moving Sideways ... on 10 Sept 2009 Bowen Galleries closed and moved next door to 39 Ghuznee St. We knew our lease was coming up for renewal and rent review; we also knew that the increase in rent would be unaffordable, regardless of the credit crisis. In early December 2008 Paul Hastings told us next door was for sale and he urged us to put in an offer; our offer was accepted.

Thanks to help from Workshope and their recommended builder Shane Harper, Heritage Home Building we were mostly ready to open on 22 September 2009

Jenny Neligan

We rely heavily on the able assistance of other trades.

The people who do the great stuff:

Rob Cherry
Rob Cherry - art installation (

Paul Craig
Paul Craig Ltd - picture framer (04 389 9526 or

Sue and Chris
Sue Hobbs - graphic designer (
Chris Streatfield - web site and computer technical support (

David Lewis
David Lewis - Wellington's social history photographer (photo: Reg Feuz)

Martin Lenart
Martin Lenart - barman at openings

Greg Johns
Greg Johns - stuffs the envelopes and mails out each new exhibition

Stephen A'Court - photography(027 446 0077 or
Professional photography for web sites and art publications.

Workshop e (04 380 0010)
Jeff Brown and Martin Kelly, builders, joiners, painters and excellent space arrangers

Christopher Moore - valuations (04 384 4473 or 021 249 9810)

We recommend:

Conroy Removals Ltd 04 238 4080 for national and international

Peter Vaughan Ltd 04 566 6683 for freight in and around Wellington

Austral Cargo Ltd 09 272 8025 for international and customs clearance

© 1998 - 2021 Bowen Galleries Ltd