My ART | Gallerist: Billy Bartley-Nees

Are you a gallerist or an art dealer?

Art dealer, it sounds cooler and more old school which I like.

Why did you open your gallery?

I had planned to do something else while incorporating exhibitions into a space, the ‘something else’ became too expensive for me to realise properly so it became just exhibitions, and now I’m rather glad the first idea never worked. I have always been into art and following smaller galleries around the world (and in AKL with Gambia Castle, Gloria Knight, Mercy Pictures et al.) when I moved back to NZ I thought Wellington was lacking in these younger, curated spaces. I wanted to have a space that expressed my tastes and held a fluidity between artists intergenerationally and to introduce new artists from abroad. A lucky opportunity to lease a space became available and now here we are…

If you could own any work of art, what would it be?

A Wolfgang Tillmans still life or any Alexis Hunter apocalyptic devil, chimera or rat painting.

What was the last work of art you bought?

A beautiful watercolour pencil drawing by Australian-based artist Spencer Lai.

Why collect?

Because living in a home with blank walls is rather dull..

What is art for?

To challenge conventions and to try understand life?

What should change?

This kind of goes in waves but it would be great to see more art school students or whoever putting on cool pop-up offsite exhibitions (in flats, empty lots, empty shops etc), documenting it and having fun..

What are you reading/watching/listening to?

Listening to HTRK, watching Below Deck to kill my brain cells and reading a few different things that I pick up then put down and forget where I’m at.

Billy is the owner and director of Envy, Te Whanganui-a-Tara Wellington. For current and upcoming exhibitions see