Every March Whanganui hosts its annual Artists Open Studios event. My town has a thriving artistic community, and Open Studios gives them an opportunity to showcase their work to both the local community and visitors from out of town. The event has been running for more than ten years, and in that time has grown from a small event by the river to something which includes artists throughout the region (last year I drove nearly an hour to visit studios in Waverley) and runs over not one but two consecutive weekends.
This was fortunate for me, because this year I was away for the first weekend and busy on the second, so that I was only able to visit a handful of studios in the centre of town.
Even so I did pretty well, taking in ceramics and photography at Tree, then popping next door to speak with jeweller Frances Stachl about her preference for ‘craft’ over the ‘fine arts’ she originally studied and her years supporting herself primarily through her simple yet elegant gold-drop earrings, before heading around the corner to Chronicle Glass Studio and the Fine Arts Collective, where I was fortunate enough to speak to two more artists, Jane Toy and John Archbold, about their work. Another block took me to the temporary home of Red Bach Gallery artist Barbara Bowness and her colleagues, with an eclectic collection including quilts, copper hangings, and some wonderful clay creations (I especially loved the giraffes).
With no more time to spare, I finished where perhaps I should have started, at the Starting Point Exhibition in the Whanganui Arts Centre, which features one work by each artist involved in Open Studios. I was especially disappointed not to have the chance to take in a couple of particular favourites from last year, including the colourful, quirky works of Tina Drayton. Still, there’s always next year, and I’m already looking forward to it.
Want to know more about Whanganui’s Artists Open Studios? Click here to go to their website.
Please note that all photographs used in this post were taken with the artist’s permission.