Vibrant comeback for arts center

Maryanne Wolter-Pryke took third place in the Viewer’s Choice Award with her painting entitled ‘Frida’.

This fibreglass and paperclay sculpture by Gretchen Gavey, entitled ‘Viral Effect’ and depicting New Zealanders pulling together during the Covid-19 pandemic, attracted attention at the October exhibition.

Some of the Rosebank Art Centre leaders at the Churchill St villa where they meet, from left, Rosebank Charitable Trust chairperson Sue Gordon, and members/trustees Angela George and Linda Bannister.

The success of the Rosebank Art Centre exhibition in Te Awamutu is testimony to those who have breathed life back into the group.

The recent exhibition at the Burchell Pavilion was the group’s third.  Some 70 pieces done by about 15 of their members went on display under the theme, ‘Face of 2020’.

Linda Bannister, who is the group’s Friday convenor and handles publicity around their exhibitions and workshops, said about 260 visitors had come through the exhibition.  Artworks were sold and there was good uptake in determining the Viewer’s Choice Award. That went to Te Awamutu’s Margaret Choat, for her acrylic painting of a girl in India, entitled ‘Eyes of Innocence’.

Margaret, who has been a member for about a year, said she was particularly keen on painting faces. Taking second place in the Viewer’s Choice Award was Angela George’s landscape in oils, ‘Still Waters’. Her painting of a kārearea (New Zealand falcon) took fourth place. Third place in the Viewer’s Choice Award went to Maryanne Wolter-Pryke, for her acrylic work depicting Frida Kahlo, entitled ‘Frida’.

All three belong to the Rosebank Arts Centre, a newly-invigorated group of artists who have brought the centre back from six to about 25 regular members.  They are part of the Rosebank Arts Centre Charitable Trust, a body that fosters and supports local arts and manages the old villa in Churchill St where they meet every Friday and where most of their regular workshops, supported through funding from Creative Communities, are held.  Support also comes from other sources, including the Te Awamutu Community Board.

Linda said the group went into recess about five years ago, when numbers dropped to unsustainable levels.

“The group went to around six members at one point.  We decided to promote the centre to see if we could attract more artists from the community … and that has happened. We now have around 25 members.”

They meet regularly at the centre, spending several hours each Friday exchanging ideas and painting. Members, who range from novices to those who have been painting for years, took part in a lockdown challenge that resulted in a well populated post-lockdown exhibition at the centre.

Rosebank Charitable Trust chairperson Sue Gordon said the group has access to a selection of resources, including numerous well-used books people borrow regularly.

“I got those from the Raglan art group that I used to belong to; they went into recess and the books came to me.”

The house in which they meet is also used by other groups, including Enrich+ and local artist Lee Samuel, who puts on regular workshops at the centre.

The recent purchase of mobile exhibition boards offers another great asset to the centre, and the crafting of a new website is underway.  That, together with longer-term plans to run an ‘artist of the month’ competition, perhaps next year, all add to new moves to continue to promote the centre and its now-thriving art group.

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