As the famous French artist Edgar Degas once said "Art is not what you see, but what you make others see".

For Art Studio Kapiti, a place for differently abled people to come and do art, this statement is true.

Art not only gives these people an opportunity to be creative, but to express themselves, the ideas in their heads and the world around them.

Creating art every Thursday morning, the artists each entered a work into the IHC Art Awards with five artists making it into the top 100.

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Members of Art Studio Kapiti.
Members of Art Studio Kapiti.

"This is the most we've had make the top 100," Art Studio Kapiti coordinator Rebecca Bond said.

"We usually have a couple of people who make it, but this is the most we've had make the top 100.

"We try and encourage different stuff and for everyone to experiment."

The awards were created to highlight the talents and achievements of people with intellectual disabilities, giving them an opportunity to have their voices heard and an opportunity to sell their work.

One Kāpiti artist Helen Wildin who has entered the awards three times now, made it into the top 100 in 2017 and sold her work for $450.

Hoping for a similar result, Helen's piece Stuck in Poverty was announced as a top 100 finalist.

Helen Wildin from Arts Studio Kapiti with a similar work to the one which has earned her a top 100 place at the IHC Arts Awards. Photo / Rosalie Willis
Helen Wildin from Arts Studio Kapiti with a similar work to the one which has earned her a top 100 place at the IHC Arts Awards. Photo / Rosalie Willis

Inspired by her work at the local foodbank, Helen has witnessed the effects poverty has on children and families firsthand.

Her piece features sculpted babies moulded from clay; baked, painted and arranged in a glass jar, the idea being that they are stuck in poverty.

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"Helen always experiments, its amazing," Rebecca said.

The news of Helen being selected as a finalist came just days after her sister, Trish Jaggi, suddenly passed away after complications from the flu.

Trish brought Helen to Art Studio Kapiti two years ago after Helen moved to Paraparaumu after their father whom Helen lived with passed away.

Not knowing anyone in the area Helen quickly formed close friendships through the studio and now lives independently with one of the other members.

Creating art together is just one part of a Thursday morning at the studio.

"We are more than an art group, we are a support network and a family," Rebecca said.

Since bringing Helen, Trish volunteered for the studio, helping with the Kāpiti Arts Trail.

"When Trish passed away there were so many of us at the funeral to support Helen," Rebecca said.

"The effects have deeply saddened us all."

The group consists of 16 artists, six volunteers and is run by Rebecca, a local artist.
With each member submitting a piece of work for the awards, Rebecca said she is very proud of what they have produced.

"When I started with Art Studio Kapiti, the exhibitions would just be blue tacked to the walls here at the studio. But when I took over, as an artist I saw this and I said, 'these guys are artists too'.

"So I started framing everything and holding exhibitions, just like you would with any other artist."

The studio's other finalists are Bradley Kuiper, Declan Jack, Erena Wylie and Heather Lopdoll.

The top 100 works will be exhibited at the Arts on High gallery in Lower Hutt, during August.

The 30 finalists' works will then be displayed with the winners announced on September 5 in Wellington.