An artist’s studio can be many things. It can be a quiet step away from the hustle, a chaotic colour splash, an elbowed corner of a shed or it can just simply be a re-purposed end of the kitchen table. But one thing all of these spaces have in common is that they are places to create.
This year’s Art Trail Manawatū is giving you a chance to have a nosey behind the doors of people’s artistic processes and to look through the windows of their creative endeavours. During this free two-day event, more than 80 artists will welcome you in to their homes. Artists come from Palmerston North to Pohangina, Foxton to Feilding and a few places in between. The art will cover a wide range of mediums including painting, photography, sculpture, ﬁbre art and glassworks.
Karen Seccombe is Square Edge Community Arts artistic director and she says that this year’s Art Trail will have some added extras.
“We're including an online feature magazine, The Artists, which offers insight into the art-making processes and approaches of those participating.
"We're also teaming up with Caccia Birch and Snails to oﬀer three main city hubs for artists and events, and are delighted to be hosting some of the Kimbolton Sculpture Trust's artists also."
Getting the Art Trail oﬀ the ground with the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic to contend with has been extra challengingSquare Edge Community Arts artistic director Karen Seccombe
Getting the Art Trail oﬀ the ground with the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic to contend with has been extra challenging, says Karen. But who better to ask to do some out-of-the-box thinking than a bunch of creatives.
"To ensure that the trail can go ahead regardless of pandemic status, a virtual art trail will now also be hosted on the Square Edge website. The virtual trail will run alongside the physical event, ensuring greater access and sustainability. Online artists’ profiles will now include video studio tours and works which can be purchased online. This means that people can attend the tour and purchase artworks even if they can't leave home."
The Art Trail is a really great magnifying glass to hold up to the region’s arts community. It is one with a DIY culture of inclusiveness and experimentation and the trail gives an insight into the need to create that drives artists.
For ﬁrst time art trailer Gavin Dodd, painting is something he feels a real pull to. He may be a newcomer to putting brush to canvas but he is making up for lost time - often spending three hours painting after putting in a full day at work. He says he can easily spend a whole weekend in his art room.
“I am really loving it. I am a pretty reserved person and I guess I use art somehow as an emotional release. It’s an expression for me.”
Belinda Paton says her artistic drive started from an early age and was wholeheartedly encouraged by her mother. Pursuing a career as an artist was a natural step. She lives high up in the Pahiatua hills and has set up her life to sculpt, paint, create and teach.
“I have always been very inspired by nature and the shapes that you find there. I’m really very tactile and I love working in 3D, I don’t really do ﬂat or ordinary. My pottery work is very organic and all the shapes are hand-built and asymmetrical, the quirky bits just grow from there.”
Kate Wilson-Bryant also ﬁnds her surroundings are an inspiration and wanting to capture their magic is a big motivation to sit down with a pencil. She lives in Apiti nestled into the base of the Ruahines. The hills are something she carries in her mind when she settles down to work in her Square Edge studio, “there are big open spaces and there is a wildness to it”. Horses with flowing manes and tui for friends, flowers and mountains flow from her pencil, as does laughter - Kate’s laugh is well known and loved in the art deco building.
Upstairs Colin Hoare is another proliﬁc creator. If you sit still long enough, he will probably take your photo and paint your portrait; Colin is always seeing the colour and light play in people’s faces.
“Faces have all sorts of colours, you just have to know how to look.”
Take some time to have a look at Colin’s ﬂuid brushstrokes and step through the many other open doors at Square Edge during the Art Trail. The building will be humming with activity during the two days and will be a good place to start your intrepid art journey. And don’t forget the outskirts - like Fiona Graham’s arty oﬀering just out of Feilding, Nicola Gregory in Ashhurst and Jill Walcroft in Pohangina. Be intrepid, be inspired and be nosey because doors will be opened, and windows on artist’s worlds will be wide open. Manawatū will put its best and most paint-splattered foot forward!
The 2020 Art Trail Manawatū runs over the weekend of 14 and 15 November from 10am to 4pm daily. This event is also FREE to attend! Trail guides will be available from Square Edge Arts Centre from 15 October for a $2 donation. For more information please visit: communityarts.org.nz
This article was originally published in the eighth edition of PalmyProud Magazine.