Manawatū Art Trail strengthens regional partnerships

Published on 20 October 2022

A woman spotted through an art gallery window, looking at paintings exhibited on the wall inside.

An artist exchange giving local creatives the opportunity to debut their work along the Coastal Arts Trail has successfully brought regional art communities together. 

The Coastal Arts trail is an initiative between Manawatū, Taranaki and Whanganui visitor development agencies to highlight artists, galleries, museums, studios and exhibitions for a more art inspired scenic drive along the west coast.

The artist exchange scheme was conceptualised and funded by Council. It's been in the works for the past year, driven by Square Edge Community Arts.

It first began with the pilot in 2021 where two Whanganui artists and two Palmerston North based artists visited each region and showcased their work in the neighbouring annual Arts Trails.

Square Edge Community Arts artistic director Dr Karen Seccombe says that they then wanted to build on those relationships but now with Taranaki.

Dr Seccombe approached chair of the Taranaki Arts Trail, Heidi Griffin, who was supportive of the idea to exchange two Taranaki artists with two Manawatū artists. This year Anthea Stayt and Mark Bellringer were chosen to represent North and South Taranaki, and Beth McGill and Marcus Ingley to represent Manawatū.

Ms Stayt is an award-winning ceramicist who uses oil paint on her ceramics to produce spontaneous, colourful abstract patterns instead of using the traditional glazing and Mr Bellringer, who is also a photographer, paints expressive, light inspired images with oils on canvas. He captures movement and the everyday views from Eltham where he is based.

Taranaki Arts Trail applied to the Council’s Creative Communities Scheme and received funding to bring the artists and their work to Palmerston North. Mr Bellringer’s artwork is now on show at Square Edge until 28 October.

Council’s Community Development Manager, Stephanie Velvin says “Creative Communities funding helps us develop a creative city which nurtures and celebrates the arts, as it offers the opportunity for local artists and artists from outside of our region to share their unique work with our community.”

On 5 and 6 November, the two Manawatū artists will showcase their work at Gover St Gallery in New Plymouth for the second weekend of Taranaki Arts Trail.

Both sides have expressed an interest to consider the exchange again in future. 

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