A Wairarapa life – heARTs ease

by Anthea Crozier

If you wind north over the Rimutakas or head south to visit us in the Wairarapa there is an artistic feast here for you – fromheavyweight art to the quirky or cheerful. You may have to drive a little distance between venues but, what gorgeous scenery there is along the way!

The wonderful Wairarapa is blessed, not only with inspirational scenery but also a vibrant, varied art scene. We have successful practitioners of ceramics, sculpture, metal work, jewellery, engraving, drawing andpainting and more spread through all four towns as well as several galleries and workspaces and a district-wide show of sculptures.

Many of these artists are members of Wai Art, based in Carterton. They meet once a month to sketch a model, listen to artists talk about their work, hear a lively book review on art or artists, find out about exhibitions and events and show their own work. Wai Art also has annual retreats for a few days of uninterrupted painting, interspersed with fun. The last two years have been to Akitio with a stunning beach for inspiration or relaxation. Each year Wai Art has a collaboration to make pieces of public art – outdoor paintings and this year, a sculpture, which are all displayed round Carterton. A brochure is available at the events centre as a guide to the art trail. The involvement of a variety of artists (and some non-artists) leads to a productive cross pollination of ideas. In addition, Wai Art runs the Big Wai Art Sale in the Carterton Events Centre over Daffodil weekend in September. The sale attracts art from a wide area of New Zealand, is all volunteer run, meticulously organised, hugely popular and a lot of work is sold. Several artists work on site during the sale – painting, making jewellery, sculpting which adds to the fun.

In Masterton there is the Masterton Art Club which is fortunate to have its own well equipped rooms – a big work space,library and gallery. These are open every Wednesday for members to drop in and paint and at other times by arrangement and there are weekly and monthly classes in oils, acrylics, watercolour and life drawing. Recently there has been an "inking" workshop. MAC also have a monthly evening meeting for discussion or an art film and for people to show their work.

Carterton has "Heart of Arts", set up by Toi Wairarapa, and is a space for workshops,talks by artists and a gallery to showcase a smorgasbord of work – ceramics, jewellery, cloth art, paintings and more. Running on
the smell of an oily rag and manned largely by artist volunteers, it is open 7 days a week – an interesting place and worth a look.

In Martinborough, Ventana Creative Collective has a gallery with regular exhibitions, demonstrations and classes by local and overseas artists – most recently Shane Tuffery on print making – and an interesting shop. There are weekly and monthly workshops for life drawing, painting, music nights – another busy place. There are, of course, many kitchen tables, caravans and verandahs where groups of us get together to paint in oils, watercolour and acrylics or create object art. Some have tutors, others are informal. Once a month there is a Sketching Safari when a group drive out to a vineyard or valley, cafe or coast to sketch or paint outside, meeting up for lunch somewhere nearby. The next generation of artists is catered for with children's classes at Ventana, Aratoi and the Village art shop in Greytown.

Aside from those already mentioned, exhibitions are regularly held in the Carterton Events Centre foyer; Featherston has an annual Art Sale, for work produced locally, in their community centre; in Masterton Aratoi Museum and Gallery runs a biennial exhibition in conjunction with the Masterton Art Club and annually with King Street artworks as well as having its own excellent exhibitions of New Zealand and local collections, most recently an exhibition of Ngati Kahungunu Taonga.

Masterton Art Club has a happy arrangement with Selena Sutherland hospital to display work for sale while cheering up the patients and Wai Art Scape also places work for sale, at a small fee to the artist, in offices, shops, rest homes and cafes. All this production of art requires a source of materials and we are fortunate to have Sylkenwood in Clareville which stocks paints, paper, canvases and drawing materials and frames work. The Village Artshop in Greytown also stocks art supplies and undertakes framing. It is a real blessing not to have to make the big trek over the hill to Wellington for supplies or even a less arduous journey to Palmerston North. For a rural district, we have an exciting number of people interested in, producing and showing a wide variety of art, in between their normal jobs of milking cows, growing olives and grapes, running offices, mustering sheep. Come and visit.

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