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Artist Greg ("Chiaroni") McDonald had waited 20 years to open his own gallery, and last night, with friends and family by his side, the Chiaroni Gallery, was officially declared open.
The gallery continued a family legacy and paid tribute to his great-grandfather Ambrogio Chiaroni sen, Mr McDonald said.
"I always knew that there was some art in my blood and I had that connection through him.
"As I got older I started to research it more and found out that he was actually the first person to own a gallery in Southland.
"Ever since I made that connection, I really wanted to reopen that gallery one day and it’s always been a dream."
To add a local touch to the Don St gallery opening, the first exhibition displayed works from artists who had a Southland connection.
"Some of the artists that are presenting their work in here haven’t had a nice space to actually exhibit their work, so they’ve always looked outside Invercargill, to museums or dealer galleries in the North Island, overseas, internationally to actually try and get recognised as an artist.
"Now the artists are really excited to be able to exhibit in a nice space, in their home town, finally after so many years."
One piece of particular importance on display was a digitised version of his own art, in what he said was a "world first". After collaborating with tech company Vaka Interactiv, the subject of his painting Descendant X, his niece Claudia Ramsay-Aupouri, came to life with not only movements, but also told the viewer about herself.
He was "blown away" to watch and hear his own painting speak.
"I got the chills and it was amazing, very special."
The digital art would remain with the wider exhibition for public viewing over the next couple of weeks, he said.
- Sharon Reece