Artists, craftspeople sought to fill space

By melissa.nightingale@wanganuichronicle.co.nz

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FILL HER UP: The Collective Whanganui initiative saw this empty Victoria Ave store become a temporary art gallery - now more creative people are needed to fill other sites. From left: Val Donkervoort, Paul Gibbs, Russell Duggan, Doreen Hardy, Kate St Amand and Sandra Brumby. PHOTO/STUART MUNRO
FILL HER UP: The Collective Whanganui initiative saw this empty Victoria Ave store become a temporary art gallery - now more creative people are needed to fill other sites. From left: Val Donkervoort, Paul Gibbs, Russell Duggan, Doreen Hardy, Kate St Amand and Sandra Brumby. PHOTO/STUART MUNRO

Collective Whanganui needs more applications from creative people interested in filling up empty storefronts in the central city.

Mainstreet Wanganui chairwoman Doreen Hardy put out a call for "artists" and other creative types who would like to fill empty stores, rent free.

"I think people hear the word 'artist' and think they've got to paint," she said.

"What I would like to see on the Avenue, perhaps some sort of small manufacturing ... a dressmaker who sells her dresses, a crafter who sells whatever she crafts ... I think they would be brilliant."

Mrs Hardy said they were looking for anybody who wanted to make or craft something and sell it.

She also thought people might be daunted by the idea of having to run the shop and fill it with their craft.

"I think it's a scary project. When you create, you create from the heart ... you create and then you're putting it out for people to criticise. That's a scary prospect, filling a shop with your stuff is scary. Being responsible for running a shop is scary. We're there to hold people's hands."

Collective Whanganui were working on getting groups of artists or crafters, so they could man the shop on a roster.

A temporary art gallery set up through the project on Victoria Ave works in such a way, with four artists taking turns being in the gallery and painting there.

"They've invited other artists to go into that space and paint.

"They pay a dollar a day for that privilege, which covers the power, I guess.

"I went in there the other day and there were six painters."

The gallery, called Living Tones, was attracting visitors and people interested in watching the artists at work, Mrs Hardy said.

She described the gallery as a "massive success".

"I'm measuring that success by the number of people through their doors," she said.

Feedback in the visitor book was also good.

The owner of the building charges the artists no rent, but the building is still available for rent in the meantime.

The gallery is set up in a bid to rid Whanganui's city centre of empty shops.

Anyone wanting to apply can call Mrs Hardy on 021 1702 962, or head to the Collective Whanganui Facebook page, or the website at collectivewhanganui.com.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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