ATL100 New collectionsDecember 13th, 2019 By Mark Crookston
Throughout our ATL100 centenary celebrations we will be profiling major new additions to the Alexander Turnbull Library collections. These acquisitions build on the legacy of Alexander Turnbull’s original goal to collect… 'anything whatever relating to this Colony, on its history, flora, fauna, geology & inhabitants, will be fish for my net, from as early a date as possible until now'. When Turnbull died there were over 55,000 books, pamphlets, periodicals and newspapers in his personal library; which he bequeathed to the people of New Zealand as the nucleus of a national collection.
The Earle Riddiford Collection
Late last month, the Alexander Turnbull Library held a small handover ceremony to receive the donation of the Earle Riddiford Collection, generously gifted to the Library by Riddiford’s four children, Belinda Cranswick, Sarah Riddiford, Richard Riddiford and Anna Riddiford.
Earle Riddiford was a New Zealand mountaineer, lawyer and farmer who was a leading figure in mountaineering expeditions to the Himalayas in the early 1950s. His collection of correspondence, photographs, maps and ephemera documents the NZ 1951 Garhwal Himalayan Expedition, the 1951 British Mount Everest Reconnaissance Expedition, and the 1952 British Cho Oyu Expedition.
Riddiford’s collection details activities of fellow prominent New Zealander mountaineers, Sir Edmund Hillary, Ed Cotter, and George Lowe. The 1951 expedition enabled NZ participation in the Everest project, and the 1952 was instrumental in reconnoitering the possible routes for climbing Mount Everest the following year.
The collection has already proven useful to researchers. In 2016 Lyn McKinnon used the material for her publication 'Only Two for Everest: How a first ascent by Riddiford and Cotter shaped climbing history'.
Associate Chief Librarian for the Alexander Turnbull Library, Mark Crookston, who was there to receive the donation, put the collection into perspective:
The Turnbull Library is very excited that this collection will be preserved and made accessible to the people of New Zealand and international researchers. All three expeditions are interesting and the photographs are extraordinary, but I’m especially pleased this collection provides such an excellent archival record of the 1951 NZ Himalayan Expedition, so researchers will be able to better understand the leading role that expedition and Earle Riddiford played in putting NZ on the international mountaineering map.
The Riddiford family have been wonderful to work with during the donation process and I thank them for this precious gift to the nation.
Included among the various photographs are 43 large, mounted black and white images taken by Riddiford. These photographs formed the basis of an exhibition called ‘A New Zealander looks at the South Face of Everest’ documenting the 1951 expeditions.
Once the arrangement and description work has been completed and digitisation finished, parts of the Riddiford collection will become available, in time for the 70th anniversary of the 1951 expeditions.
Special thanks to the Riddiford family for their generous donation to the Library and to the Turnbull staff who have managed the acquisition, including Di Woods (Field Librarian), Natalie Marshall (Curator, Photographs), Shannon Wellington (Curator, Manuscripts), and Mark Bagnall (previous Curator, Cartographic).
Repatriation of First World War Archives
In October 2018 the Library hosted an event acknowledging the repatriation to New Zealand of original diaries and letters of three First World War veterans, alongside the digital repatriation of other archival material from over 60 Gallipoli veterans. The original and digital archives were donated by Leeds University Library. It is the first repatriation of archival material from an international organisation to a New Zealand institution.
These archives have a long story. In 1974 British historian Peter Liddle came to New Zealand and used the New Zealand Gallipoli Association to make contact with many veterans and their families, with the purpose of gathering information for his research and his archive. By the time he left New Zealand he had created oral histories with more than 70 veterans, made numerous copies of original archives representing the personal experiences of war – diaries, letters, paybooks etc. He also left New Zealand with original material from over 60 veterans, including the diaries of 15 veterans.
Once back in the UK, this material was used for his important publications on the First World War, before they were eventually deposited at Leeds University Library, where they became part of the Liddle Collection - an internationally significant contribution to the documentary heritage of two world wars, covering the personal experiences of over 6,000 men and women from around the world.
For the last 44 years those original 15 diaries have been a point of contention in New Zealand. Some of the veterans, and then their families, sought for their return to New Zealand. There have been several publicised campaigns over the years to have them returned, including a government investigation and report into the matter in the 1980s. That investigation found that taking those items of original material out of the country did not breach any cultural heritage legislation at the time.
The most recent investigation was a collaborative effort by the Alexander Turnbull Library, Manatū Taonga the Ministry for Culture and Heritage, and Leeds University Library. We shared our evidence of the provenance of the collection and found that three veterans wished their original items to be returned to New Zealand, and for all others there was either good evidence, or good evidence to assume, they were intentionally gifted to Peter Liddle. We agreed to respect the wishes of those veterans.
At the Library’s event this year, we were very pleased to have in attendance the direct descendants of the three veterans – Cyril James Claridge, Hartley Valentine Palmer and Clifford James Walsh – along with a range of historians and colleagues who have been important in commemorating the 100 years of WWI. It was a sometimes emotional day, as families recounted their stories of their loved ones in front of the personal diaries, letters and other archives. It was a powerful reminder of the ability of archival material to bring families together and to be the catalyst for remembering.
The Library thanks all families of Gallipoli veterans whose archives are in this collection for their critical role in enabling a resolution to this 44 year tension.
The Library was also very pleased to welcome Stella Butler, the Leeds University Librarian, for this event. Stella personally transported the items to New Zealand and her visit was important in cementing the ongoing relationship we now have with these items of national and international significance.
The Library is in the process of making contact with all descendants of the veterans to let them know that the archives exist and will be digitally available in 2019. If you have a family member who fought at Gallipoli and are wondering whether their archives are included in this collection, please contact the Library: email@example.com.
You can learn more about this significant addition to the Turnbull Library collections from two Leeds University Library blogs: Preparing for the Repatriation of Anzac Archives from the Liddle Collection and An emotional moment at the Alexander Turnbull Library.
– Mark Crookston, Associate Chief Librarian, Alexander Turnbull Library
The Peter McLeavey Archive
Peter Joseph John McLeavey ONZM (21 September 1936 – 12 November 2015)
The Alexander Turnbull Library is pleased to announce the acquisition of the Peter McLeavey Archive. A rich collection of documentary heritage charting the development of New Zealand’s contemporary art scene in the second half of the 20th century through the lens of one of the country’s most significant, committed and charismatic art dealers.
Peter McLeavey’ s representation of New Zealand artists through The Peter McLeavey Gallery in Wellington’s Cuba street, earned the art dealer a multitude of accolades. Jeremy Diggle, Professor of Fine Arts at Massey University considered McLeavey "the most important commercial gallerist New Zealand had ever had, effectively the most pre-eminent publisher of modern New Zealand art in the past 50 years". In 2009, Luit Bieringer produced a documentary about McLeavey’s work titled The Man in the Hat. In 2010, in recognition of McLeavey’s influence on New Zealand art and artists, McLeavey was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts from Massey University. In 2012, he was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to the Arts.
McLeavey established his first gallery in 1966 in his Wellington bedsit on The Terrace. In 1969, he moved Gallery operations to the second floor of a building in Wellington’s Cuba Street. This new gallery, The Peter McLeavey Gallery was to become the longest-running dealer gallery in New Zealand. Today the Gallery is managed by Olivia McLeavey, Peter’s daughter, and continues to represent some of New Zealand’s best known modern and contemporary artists. In September this year the McLeavey Gallery will commemorate 50 years of operation.
Well known for his support and encouragement of New Zealand artists, McLeavey famously brokered the sale of McCahon’s Northland Panels to the New Zealand National Art Gallery. Turning the tide, this sale is said to have marked the beginning of the development of a truly representative national art collection. Over the following decades McLeavey maintained strong working and personal relationships with many of New Zealand’s prominent artists. These relationships are heavily reflected in the Gallery archives he meticulously collected and collated.
Central to the Peter McLeavey Archive are the Gallery’s exhibition files. Each file contains collected correspondence with exhibiting artists, catalogues and invitations for each exhibition, photographs of the artworks and artists, publicity materials and transport and shipping arrangements for purchased works; over 560 exhibition files in total, one for each exhibition held in the gallery since 1968.
Letters in the Archive show the depth of understanding and personal rapport McLeavey shared with artists such as Toss Wollaston, Colin McCahon, Richard Killeen, Gordon Walters, Michael Illingworth, Milan Mrkusich, Michael Smither, Ian Scott, Pat Hanly, Ray Thorburn, Robin White and many others.
Also included in the Archive are Gallery sales ledgers, day diaries and address books, financial records, personal correspondence and significant amounts of art ephemera.
With a longstanding interest in photography, (McLeavey owned a camera since his teenage years), the Archive contains photographs taken by Peter. Most notably collages he compiled between 1974 and 2003. These collages feature multiple images of many artists such as Toss Woollaston, Billy Apple, Les Cleveland, Gordon Walters, Michael Smither, Yvonne Todd, and Warren Viscoe. They vary in subject matter, depicting the artists themselves, their artworks and, in some cases, artist in their studios and homes.
Jill Trevelyan used the McLeavey Archive as the foundation for Peter’s biography, Peter McLeavey: The life and times of a New Zealand art dealer (Te Papa Press, 2013). Jill described the Archive as “a great untapped source of New Zealand art history…..a room packed with correspondence, exhibition files and diaries”. Among the material, she said, “was Colin McCahon painting a lament for James K Baxter, Richard Kileen describing his first ground-breaking cut-out works, Robin White, starting afresh in Kiribati after a fire destroyed her home and studio, and through all of these narratives, was the voice of Peter himself – encouraging, reassuring and philosophical about the ups and downs of the artistic vocation” .
It is anticipated that the Peter McLeavey Archive will be available to researchers late 2019 to early 2020, once conservation and arrangement & description work has been completed.
– Shannon Wellington, Manuscripts Curator, Alexander Turnbull Library
Flying Nun Records: Collection
The iconic New Zealand record label Flying Nun Records has donated their collection of open-reel master tapes and other recordings to the Alexander Turnbull Library. This donation represents the first major acquisition of the ATL100 Centenary.
An internationally-significant label, Flying Nun Records was established in 1981 by Roger Shepherd. Initially tapping into the abundant creativity of the post-punk music scene, early groups for the label include The Chills, The Bats, The Verlaines, The Clean, Sneaky Feelings, Tall Dwarfs, Look Blue Go Purple, and many others. The label and its artists have had major and ongoing cultural impact in New Zealand, as well as contributing to the global development of alternative popular music. The entry for Flying Nun in the Continuum Encyclopedia of Popular Music of the World concludes: “For many, especially the overseas followers of alternative music, Flying Nun is a metonym for New Zealand music as a whole”.
The donation comprises almost 1,200 individual items, including masters on open-reel magnetic tape, multitracks, demos, and live recordings, dating from 1981 until the mid-2000s. Not all Flying Nun-related master material is included, but this collection represents the largest extant group of recordings. The Library expects to digitise and preserve all of the materials, both the content of the tapes and the tape housings (which are a rich source of information), within three years. This will ensure the long-term preservation of and access to these important recordings, allowing them to be available for remastering and reissuing, and for research purposes. The collection will progressively become available as it is described, digitised and re-housed, but it will be some time before the entire collection is fully accessible.
The Flying Nun donation will become part of the Archive of New Zealand Music, the world’s largest archive of unpublished material relating to New Zealand music and musicians. The Library already holds copies of most Flying Nun releases, as well as associated oral histories and many hundreds of posters.
– Michael Brown, Music Curator, Alexander Turnbull Library