Enriching the art world

Waipā artists associated with Te Awamutu’s Enrich Plus community will showcase their creative talents at an IHC Art Awards gallery exhibition in the town tomorrow (Friday).

Their artwork will go on public view from 3.30pm to 5pm at the Enrich art gallery in Teasdale St.  They will be on view for the next couple of weeks.

Enrich+ gallery in Teasdale Street, Te Awamutu

The works are up for inclusion in this year’s IHC Art Awards, an annual event that provides artists with an intellectual disability the opportunity to have their artwork recognised, win a prize and sell their work.  The awards are based in Wellington and will be judged there within the next couple of months.

Enrich Te Awamutu team manager Ngawai Hamblin said of the 15 or 16 works submitted and going on display locally, 10 will be selected to go to Wellington for the awards.  Each piece done with the IHC Art Awards in mind has had to meet certain criteria, she explained, most importantly they must have been created by the artists with minimal outside support.

“Enrich in Te Awamutu draws people from across Waipā,” she said.  “These annual awards are one of the highlights of their year.  From the entries submitted from around the country, the judges pick the top 30 and the relevant artists are awarded first, second and third places.  The top prize is $5000.  All of that goes to the winning artist … it can be life-changing.”

Mayor Susan O’Regan has always taken an active interest in the Enrich+ artists’ work. She has their artwork Tuiana hanging in her office. It was presented last year by Enrich+ art tutor Teresa Siemonek and artists Julie Tate, Kathleen Bayer and Deshan Walallavita.

Entries to the awards will be exhibited in Wellington once the competition is over and put on sale. Artists receive 100 percent of the sale proceeds.  Unsold pieces will be returned to the artist at the end of the exhibition.

Enrich in Te Awamutu is offering a Mayor’s Choice this year, with Waipā mayor Susan O’Regan set to make that selection early next week.  That artwork will not garner an individual award for its creator beyond widespread recognition, but will see the profit from its sale going back into the Enrich art gallery.

Ngawai said that in previous years, entries to the IHC Art Awards were sent to Wellington for judging without being seen by the artists’ families or friends.  The move to change this and allow local artists the time to have their work viewed by those closest to them is behind the decision to hold the exhibition in Te Awamutu starting tomorrow.

“It will give their families an opportunity to celebrate their works with them,” she said, “and for people in the community to see the great work they have been doing.”

Also available at the art exhibition will be an art raffle featuring a large painting of elephants, done by Enrich art facilitator and local artists Theresa Siemonek, with input from fellow artists Peter Crawford, Julie Tate and Pauline Beuno.

Julie Tate with her Starry Night artwork from a previous exhibition.

The 120cm x 85cm piece, entitled The Matriarch, is valued at $500.  Proceeds from the raffle will go to Taumarunui Enrich staff member Tani McElroy, who will shave her head for Leukaemia and Blood Cancer NZ to show support for one of their clients who is battling the disease.

The painting will be on display at the exhibition and tickets will be sold at the event.

Flanking the painting to be auctioned on Friday are Enrich Plus Te Awamutu team manager Ngawai Hamblin, right, and Enrich art facilitator and artist Theresa Siemonek. Photo: Viv Posselt

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