Artists feeling the effects of pandemic as public ‘battle-weary’

Central Otago Art Society president Nigel Wilson at Central Stories ahead of the society’s 65th...
Central Otago Art Society president Nigel Wilson at Central Stories ahead of the society’s 65th Blossom Festival Art Exhibition. PHOTO: SHANNON THOMSON
Last year, Covid-19 heavily pruned Central Otago artists’ exhibition plans, but they quickly rebounded after lockdown, courtesy of travelling New Zealanders.

Now, another round of restrictions has nipped galleries and exhibitions in the bud again.

Galleries reopened at Level 2, but bigger events, such as the Alexandra Blossom Festival, Bannockburn’s Over the Bridge, the Arts on Tour exhibition and the Arts Gold Award, have become Covid casualties.

Central Otago District Arts Trust chairwoman Jan Bean said losing the nationally significant Arts Gold Awards was a big setback because it attracted hundreds of visitors and artists to the region.

However, it was reassuring a record number of artworks had been received for the Central Otago Art Society 65th Blossom Festival Art Exhibition, she said.

Society spokeswoman Melanie Eade said there were 54 artists and 121 artworks in the four-week show, including 18 past winners from the previous two decades.

Meanwhile, the trust is working on new arts initiatives designed to boost Central Otago’s profile as an arts destination.

Central Otago District Arts Trust co-ordinator Rebekah de Jong (left) and chairwoman Jan Bean....
Central Otago District Arts Trust co-ordinator Rebekah de Jong (left) and chairwoman Jan Bean. PHOTO: MARJORIE COOK
A new Clyde Cover to Cover literary event originally scheduled for this month has been postponed to November 28.

Public art projects, art education and a video and stories project by local writer Laura Elliot are also in the pipeline.

Hullabaloo member Gail de Jong said since the Cromwell-based art collective reopened in Level 2, the gallery had been unusually quiet.

‘‘What we think has happened is there are local people coming in and because our artists have strong support within the region, work is still selling, although understandably slightly down on normal sales,’’ Mrs de Jong said.

New patrons were more likely to be from Dunedin and Queenstown.

Aucklanders — still locked down at Level 3 — were missed, she said.

Mrs de Jong’s printmaker husband Chris de Jong, a retired Dunedin School of Art principal lecturer, runs OCTA Gallery in Cromwell.

Mr de Jong said that after the first lockdown, OCTA had enjoyed significant local and regional patronage, which helped even out revenue usually received from international visitors.

However, the latest lockdown was taking its toll and had interrupted supplies, he said.

It appeared art galleries had managed to survive due to a renewed interest in art, art investment and ownership, but that was not so obvious this time round.

‘‘Since the second lockdown it feels as if people have become a bit more reticent and battle-weary,’’ he said.

Wanaka artist Ruby Burke’s Covid-19-postponed exhibition will be held on October 8-9. PHOTO:...
Wanaka artist Ruby Burke’s Covid-19-postponed exhibition will be held on October 8-9. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
Central Otago printmaker and painter Marion Vialade experienced two very different lockdowns.

Last year, her in-laws were staying and helped with child care so she could work.

This year, she wrangled children and work by herself while her essential worker husband went to his vineyard job.

Ms Vialade said she struggled more this time because an exhibition she had put a lot of energy into was cancelled.

When she rescheduled to open last Sunday, she did not know if frames would be ready in time.

Both lockdowns forced Wanaka artist Ruby Burke to postpone her first and second solo exhibitions.

The 19-year-old’s new dates are October 8 and 9 at the Lake Wanaka Centre.

Miss Burke said she was philosophical about the changes created by the pandemic and she was carrying on painting.

‘‘I’ve been exploring elements from around the world because we are not able to travel ... Often, when times are harder or you have something big that you are grappling with in life, it is the simple things that help,’’ she said.

 

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