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The Jacinda Ardern painting displayed in the window of Jonathan Grant Galleries in Auckland

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As you may have heard, we are now all back at work as per normal in New Zealand and ‘social distancing’ is a thing of the past (despite closed borders of course).

The evening before we entered Level 4 lockdown and closed the gallery for five long weeks we placed a large 2m painting of Jacinda Ardern [NZ prime minister] in the gallery window to acknowledge the hope that she would lead the country safely through the Covid-19 crisis. Aroha is Maori for love and Ardern’s catchphrase during the crisis was “Be kind”, so although the painting was made in 2019, the title was serendipitous.

Then followed five weeks of probably the toughest lockdown in the world and, of course, the rest is history. Instead of the 14,000 projected deaths we suffered only 22.

As soon as we opened up again, the Ardern painting immediately found a keen buyer (NZ$19,500) and now posters have been seen all round the country and even the Guardian featured an image.

Sales have been significantly reduced on this time last year, but they are still taking place on a regular basis and enquiries that can be converted into sales are as good as ever.

Having read Garry Edwards’ [York Antiques Centre] comment in your article this morning, if the trade need any reassurance to back up his views, from our experience over the last three weeks since lockdown ceased, we have had consistently good sales with many people coming in with screenshots on their phones of artworks from our websites asking to see the works and purchasing on the spot. Also, website sales to expat Kiwis in the US, Bangkok, Australia and elsewhere are going through the system. There seems to be little outbound delay with shipping at present.

Our website traffic has been up 72% and the portrait of Ardern is the fourth-highest page view.

We made a short video presentation on the painting, certainly not up to Philip Mould standards, but not too bad for a first-time attempt! (https://artisgallery.co.nz/artist/westonfrizzellaroha/)

Jonathan Gooderham

Jonathan Grant Galleries & ARTIS Gallery,

Parnell, Auckland