A deluge normally comes from the sky, not bursting out of the ground, and when your studio is on the second floor, flooding is not a disaster you expect.

So for Helen Kerridge it was a surreal ''Oh, Noah'' phone call that told her a burst water pipe had left a 2m crater in Karamu Rd and a spectacular 6m-high fountain of water, rocks and gravel was raining into her art studio above Humanity Books.

That March calamity now has its sequel in an exhibition titled After the Deluge, at the Hastings Community Arts Centre from October 16-28.

Read more: Hawke's Bay Arts Festival going from 'strength to strength'
Vicky Rope: Art Deco line-up best yet


The 70 adults Kerridge tutors, collectively called the Humanity Painters, will be exhibiting about 300 paintings. Their annual show traditionally attracts more visitors than any other held at the arts centre.

One of the works in the show will be Kerridge's A Moment of Calm. It shows a wee duckling paddling merrily, unaware of the hungry eel and trout poised to tear it to pieces.

"That to me is my black sense of humour of what everyone's life is like. You get moments of calm without quite knowing what's lurking."

The flood was "horrendous," she says.

"I thought I'd lost all my teaching resources built up over 10 years - 14 A3 folders of images, examples and notes. The plastic folder pockets were full of muddy water right to the brim."

Trying to salvage them was a "mammoth" task.

"On my own I could never have done it. If it wasn't for the amazing support and help from all of the Humanity Painters who came to the fore with offers of help, home baking and their time, all my teaching references would have been lost."

What had looked hopeless turned out okay, thanks to the many helping hands. Each of the 14 folders took about four hours to carefully dry and iron the contents. Within four days her resources were saved. Then it took a further five weeks to put all that information back in order.

"It was a little wrinkly and mud-marked but still very usable."

Humanity Books and Kerridge's studio were closed for two months for repairs.

"It was a horrible time but whenever I find myself reflecting on the damage I remind myself of the incredible support and care shown to me by a wonderful community of very talented artists."

The group's yearly exhibitions are "gaining a lot of respect through consistently presenting high-quality professional paintings at very affordable prices," she says. Sales at last year's exhibition topped $11,000.

Napier's Patrick Tyman is this year's guest artist and will speak at the exhibition opening.

- After the Deluge, Humanity Painters group exhibition, Hastings Community Arts Centre, 106 Russell St South, Hastings, October 16 to 28.