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Written by Scott Pothan, Savvy (Distributed with the Northern Advocate)   
Monday, 13 August 2012

Last year the Whangarei Art Museum acquired a major art work by modernist landscape artist, the late Alan Charlton.

It seems like years to me, that we have all been held up at traffic lights in Whangarei behind yet another vehicle with a tired peeling Save Ngunguru Sandspit bumper-sticker! In fact this community-driven cause to save a unique natural landmark has only been around since 2007 when protests at commercial development on this ecological living museum became heated. Seemingly long unresolved; the issue of public ownership for once was one in which hapu and pakeha were of one accord. In May last year I was able to acquire a major artwork from the 1970s by the late Alan Charlton Ngunguru Estuary at the International Art Centre auction in Parnell, Auckland. Despite the painting needing some conservation treatment of its own (ironically) the bidding was spirited, but I was determined to acquire what I believed would be seen as a seminal work by this Northland artist. The auctioneer praised the work at the start of bidding, admitting no knowledge of the artist; he said it was one of the finest modernist works he had seen by an unknown New Zealand artist.

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