The keenly anticipated opening of the new Space Gallery at 18 St Hill St is almost here.
Whanganui artist Mike Marsh has been helping to build expectation while painting new signs on the building's front wall.
The burnt orange, charcoal grey and white used in his work provides clues to what the new interior looks like.
Marsh consulted owners Sarah and Jon Williams on the design and colours for his work.
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"The colour choices are related to those they've got inside the gallery on a couple of feature walls," Marsh said.
"We thought we would bring some of the colours from inside, outside."
Inside the historic building, which began its life as the original home of the Dalgety and Company head office and warehouse in 1907, are vast expanses of white with the contrasting colours strategically featured.
"The orange is named Kerikeri and the grey is named Castlecliff," Sarah Williams said.
"It was so good to find a perfect colour with a local name."
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At the end of 2018 Williams closed the original small Space Studio & Gallery she founded at 64 Taupo Quay, after seven years and around 300 exhibitions.
And in February 2019, she formed a business partnership with her dad Jon and opened new premises with three galleries and a stockroom at 66 Taupo Quay.
"I never anticipated that a year later I'd be opening another premises and once again moving next door.
"The huge floor spaces and semi-industrial vibe of this building are so perfect for our purposes."
Christchurch-based architectural designer Jon Williams knows first-hand how precious heritage buildings are and father and daughter were in complete accord on buying the Whanganui building.
"Dad has been doing a brilliant job of overseeing the repair and renovation work," Williams said.
"I'm lucky to have his support and experience with old buildings."
Despite its age, 18 St Hill St retains almost all of its original features including a wool conveyor belt and weighing machine that has survived since Dalgety left the building.
"The compliance work has taken precedence so far but I want to keep everything intact and do some restoration work down the line."
Williams says the two stories of massive floor space will allow her to continue and expand the business model she has developed with her father.
Six artists have moved from the studio areas at 64 Taupo Quay to take up residence at St Hill St and they will exhibit their work in the Space galleries during Artists Open Studios this year.
"We also have a new tenant renting an area as office space and there may be more of those," Williams said.
She is also looking to increase the performing arts side of Space's operations and will host La Fiesta event Good Habits on Wednesday, February 26.
Good Habits is an eclectic indie-folk band from Manchester, England, comprised of singer-cellist and songwriter Bonnie Schwarz and international Klezmer accordionist Pete Shaw, on their first New Zealand tour.
Then on March 8, festival favourite Juliet McLean will perform in celebration of International Women's Day.
The singer-songwriter and keyboardist has combined with guitarist Hamish Cameron and drummer Rob Ju on drums to play as O Juliet.
Williams said having hosted successful performances at her previous premises, it is great to be able to offer such a spacious venue.
"I have Nashville-based artist Daniel Champagne booked to play here in April," she said.
"It is so nice to get an email that begins with 'I've heard good things about your venue'."
Although hosting live performances was not part of her plan, Williams said it has been a welcome development that has largely come about because of her collaboration with the Whanganui Women's Network, hosting La Fiesta and Winter Wonderfest events.
"The fact that we have held successful events at the smaller places gives me great confidence to host them here."
The new Space opens tonight (Saturday) with the 2020 La Fiesta group exhibition KuaOHO WOKE featuring works by Alexis Neal, Naani Waitai, Cecelia Kumeroa, Kezia Whakamoe, Kura Te Waru-Rewiri, Jasmine Horton, Gabrielle Belz, Vanessa Wairata Edwards, Erana Kaa, Stevie Houkamau and Tapirioterangi Pirikahu.
There will also be supporting solo exhibitions from Whanganui artist Tia Ranginui and Taranaki-based artist Teresa Goodin, formerly of Whanganui.
The opening of the building and the exhibitions will begin with a pōwhiri at 5.30pm on Saturday.
"I need to stress that those who wish to attend the opening will be asked to observe protocols for the pōwhiri," Williams said.
People wanting to book for the La Fiesta live events should email email@example.com