A large crowd turned up at the UCOL atrium on Friday to witness the launch of this year's Artists Open Studios, an event all the more appreciated after being cancelled last year.
John Maihi led with a karakia and trust chairman Neil Buddle compered the evening. Amongst all the acknowledgements to sponsors, organisers, trust members, artists, and the public, Neil singled out Catherine Macdonald and Sue Cooke, originators of the event 21 years ago that would become Artists Open Studios.
Mayor Hamish McDouall officially launched the event.
"This is our opportunity to acknowledge the arts community," said Hamish. "To get out there and see, to go into the work spaces of these people. To see the canvases and sculptures they're working on, and we get the opportunity to buy some stuff — so make sure you do that.
"This will attract people from all over New Zealand. This will be the biggest arts festival being held in the world."
Catherine Macdonald spoke about the event's evolution.
"I have had the pleasure of being involved with Open Studios from its beginning in 2001. It started as Riverside Artists with 13 people taking part and it was just contained in the Taupo Quay area. From there it has steadily grown to encompass the Whanganui region ... it is heartening to see this evolution."
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Catherine spoke about how the inaugural event showed people how valuable the riverside area was and what its potential could be.
"In 2001 I showed my work alongside Sue Cooke, in the same building as Marty Vreede: the building was one of the warehouses on Taupo Quay.
"That studio space is now the temporary home of the Sarjeant Gallery."
The first event was held over one weekend and more than 500 people came to see it.
After the speakers, the crowd moved through the UCOL buildings and across Taupo Wuay to the Starting Point Exhibition for drinks, nibbles, socialising and art viewing.