The Dannevirke Art Society has 56 years of proud history but it's time to look to the future, president Mike Harold said at last Friday night's opening of the annual exhibition.

"In this community we've a lot of artists who have achieved a lot,'' Mr Harold said. ''But what will we look like in 10 years' time?

"We are taking our time to explore what opportunities there are for the visual arts because the chance to embrace visual arts in this community is huge."

This year, in order to widen the interest in the arts in Dannevirke, photographers were invited to exhibit.


Mr Harold said it was important for groups such as the Art Society to keep evolving.

"How do you keep functioning when volunteer organisations like ours are being challenged? People are busy and we're like quite a lot of organisations faced with the challenge of working a bit smarter."

Mr Harold said he would love to see the annual art exhibition become Dannevirke's visual arts exhibition.

"We've a wonderful asset in our art rooms but I can see a time when interest could taper off. So to have an exhibition of photography alongside our art is exciting.

''Visual art is a big field, from print-making, photography, movies and films, along with design and sculpture. This year we've photographers and the woodturners joining us in our exhibition, along with a wearable art exhibition from Pat Herbert - but I want to see what else is out there.

''Being sustainable is very important and I think the visual arts should survive in rural communities."

The Dannevirke Art Society is now offering those interested in visual arts the opportunity to gain an understanding of the basic skills, with courses to be run by Elspeth Atkinson, a former Dannevirke High School art teacher who is passionate about the wider art scene.

Tararua District councillor Carole Isaacson opened the exhibition and said it was fortunate to have such talent in the community.

"The work all tells a story. There is something in each work, a snippet which tells us something about the artist."

Judge Sally Maguire of Artmosphere in Waipawa selected Ann Berry's It's History, water colour of a Pongaroa building as the winning work for the Rosebowl which had the theme of Tararua - Identities and Places.

"Ann's work gives the building a sense of age," she said.

Built in 1904, the building burned down just before Christmas.

Mr Harold's work Wheatfield, Stradishall was judged best in show, which Sally said was an extremely impressive work, with wonderful humour and engaged the eye.

"The work said a 1000 words and showed the artist's joy in painting," she said.

Dannevirke's Paul McKay was the lucky winner of Mr Harold's 2007 painting of a distinctive local scene on Smith Rd looking towards Rua Roa. The scene is familiar to Mr McKay, who grew up at Rua Roa.

The Dannevirke Art Society Exhibition:
* Open every day through to Saturday, 10am to 4pm, at the Home Industries Hall on High St.
* Entry is free and works are for sale, with a special cash-and-carry section.