Brydee Rood has a solid reputation as an installation artist, creating art in response to critical environmental issues. She is a site-specific artist and environmental performance and video artist. She is also art tutor at Whanganui Creative Space, where art of many kinds is produced and the walls bear artistic witness with a colourful record of art produced in the room. She took on the job in July, last year.
"I've worked in this field for quite a long time, already. After I did my Masters in Fine Arts in Auckland, I worked at Starship Children's Hospital doing art and creative programming with teenagers for five years part-time, as well as doing my own artistic practice."
She then followed opportunities overseas before working for Mapura Studios, based in Auckland. "They're a well-established community open-access art studio, similar to Whanganui Creative Space. I worked as an art tutor for them for nearly two years, which is just before I moved down to Whanganui."
There were a few practical and personal reasons why Whanganui became her place of residence, but the pull of the strong art community was a big one.
"I had done work with the Sarjeant Gallery in 2016-2017 and that was a really good experience for me, so that also felt like another reason to choose Whanganui," says Brydee.
Creative Space is a part-time job, leaving her time for her own art practice.
"This is the kind of work that inspires me, so it's a good balance."
A recent grant from Manatu Taonga, Ministry of Culture and Heritage, has enabled Whanganui Creative Space to grow.
"They provided a series of grants throughout the country to support creative spaces, to help them expand or support their staffing. They have enabled us to open on a new day," she says. They used to open only twice a week, but the funding means they can open on a third day for the next three years.
"We're open Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, now. The new day is our Tuesday. It's more about us being open to others in the community, because this space gets quite busy." She says the third day allows new clients to join. "The new day is set aside for new clients, to support people who would like to come in and have a more focused, quieter art session, working with people with special needs and diversabilities."
Brydee says the space is a "drop-in" on Mondays and Wednesdays, in which anyone can attend. Whanganui Creative Space has hosted groups from Te Oranganui and, until recently, Idea Services.
"We get care assistants and support workers who work with individuals bringing their clients to us. We get people who are more independent in the community coming to us of their own choice; we get people who have come through struggles with mental health who started coming and just continued and want to stay with us — there is quite a variety of people who do come here and use this as their studio space."
Brydee says from this they get a sense of well being and purpose, and from it comes a good deal of good art.
They have to buy their art materials, but would welcome donations.
"The grant will help with that too, but, essentially, the grant is paying for one new day; it's not supporting our other two days, so we still need to continue to fundraise."
Brydee has two assistant art tutors: Kathy Lee and Katherine Barrett, who work a day a week each.
"For the most part, we try to make sure this is a warm, safe, welcoming space, where people can come and find joy in creating."
If Whanganui Creative Space sounds like it would suit you, get in touch with Brydee or drop by.
"Feel free to come and join," she says.
The artists of Creative Space will be exhibiting in Artists Open Studios (AOS) next year, and Brydee will be supporting that. She says she wouldn't mind producing an installation of her own for AOS but it would need support. "It's not just something I can whip up."