Mickey Smith: Cultivate it as you will [Carnegie's New Zealand 1902-2015]

01 August 2015 - 25 October 2015

Cultivate it as you will by Mickey Smith explores the historic legacy of Carnegie Libraries. Named after the successful Scottish-American industrialist Andrew Carnegie, the philanthropic trust established 2,509 library buildings throughout the English-speaking world between 1886 and 1917. Carnegie's charitable enterprise claimed to be an act of hands-off gifting: "Cultivate it as you will," he offered.

However, Carnegie's generosity came with many conditions, and some considered it tainted money given the poor labour relations that led to violent riots in his steel mills. New Zealand communities were persistent applicants for the programme, resulting in the successful founding of eighteen libraries at the turn of the century. To investigate this history, Smith travelled the country to document the twelve remaining buildings and their adaptive reuse. Featuring extensive video documentation and contextual material, the exhibition provides a contemplative reflection on one man's problematic legacy and the communities that fulfilled his vision.