Topic: The Inimitable Mr. Hopkins: The Barry Hopkins' Art Collection

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Past exhibition, from November 28, 2008-February 15, 2009.

Tiki IIThe Inimitable Mister Hopkins; The Barry Hopkins Collection is a rich and fascinating tribute to the extensive art collection of Waikato art Collector Barry Hopkins. 

The exhibition is curated by Waikato Museum Concept Leader Visual Arts Leafa Wilson in collaboration with Barry Hopkins himself.

Despite having never created a piece of art himself, Barry is an avid art collector. Born to an old farming family in Ohaupo, he began collecting at the age of sixteen when, by chance, he came across M.T. Clayton's painting of Abel Tasman's ships Zeehaen and Heemskerck in the garage of a family friend. The painting caught his eye and he acquired it for next to nothing. From this point on, Barry became a keen collector of art and art objects - a dedication that has led to an active presence in the Waikato art community and an impressive art collection, much of which is housed at the Waikato Museum.

Barry's collection is fascinating, not just because of the diversity and content of the works, but because of his unusual collection habits. He doesn't follow current trends; he doesn't go for big names or purchase with the intention of making a lucrative investment - Barry selects according to his own sensibilities which appear to be unpretentious and completely unpredictable. While the selections may seem odd to many, on the whole the works are resoundingly positive and some bordering on hilarious. From complete unknowns such as Te Awamutu wrestling and boxing coach Johnny Thompson (whose work depicts a Taniwha eating a naughty little boy), to the likes of Colin McCahon's Waterfall and early Richard Killeen painting Rise and Fall; there is no formula used. 

Food for thoughtPart of the original board that established Te Wananga o Aotearoa, Barry formed close relationships with artists such as Buck Nin and Paratene Matchitt, and developed a vested interest in emerging Maori contemporary artists. He is a prominent member of the Waikato Society of Arts and is a former president and current member of the Friends of the Waikato Museum.

While visitors to The Inimitable Mister Hopkins may find themselves wondering where the logic is, where the narrative is heading or where it begins, this is exactly the desired response. While there is seemly a lack of order, underneath there is much wit, intelligence and a wonderful insight into a quirky-yet-brilliant mind.

Something about Mister Hopkins:

Barry Hopkins (Ngati Paakeha) was born in Auckland in 1942. He was educated at Kings College.

His family has lived for several generations in Ohaupo where he currently resides. In keeping with Barry's love of art, he sees very little relevance in his origins, preferring instead to let us in to his collection.

For a great many years, Barry has been one of the greatest philanthropists through his devotion to the collection of national as well as local artists' works. His contribution to the community, is very much unsung.

Barry is a member of the Aotearoa Institute which established what is now known as Te Wananga o Aotearoa along with Rongo Wetere. Barry has been one of the longest serving supporters of Maori initiatives and his portrait is among many of the portraits of founding members that adorn the main administration building of the Apakura Campus in Te Awamutu where the Wananga has its origins. Gallery 8 in Te Awamutu is one of the most recent initiatives that successfully exhibits the work of contemporary Maori art. Their Patron is none other than Barry Hopkins.

He has been a member of the annual Summer Art Award committee, one of the Waikato's most prestigious art events in the Waikato.

Barry has been a lifetime member of the Waikato Society of Arts and is also very active as a committee member of The Friends of the Waikato Museum.

While Barry's collection is of vital importance, The Waikato Museum acknowledges that he indeed is the treasure, the inimitable, the one and only, Barry Hopkins!

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