Shaky start to 39th art exhibition

Riversdale Arts group secretary Claire Horrell (left) and life members Elaine Grant and Dusty...
Riversdale Arts group secretary Claire Horrell (left) and life members Elaine Grant and Dusty Coleman sit in front of paintings by Micky McCracken, Janet De Wagt and Jane Riley at the opening night of the Riversdale Arts Exhibition.
More than 500 pieces of art by 90 artists are on display at the Riversdale Community Centre's 39th annual Riversdale Art Exhibition.

The exhibition, which runs until July 26, opened on Friday night to an eager public, hungry to see what art was being exhibited and available to buy.

Riversdale Arts group president Debbie Schriek, of Riversdale, said in her opening speech, she and six of the group's committee members were at the centre putting up the artworks when the Fiordland earthquake, measuring 7.8 on the Richter scale, hit.

Mrs Schriek said everything swayed and shook and, to make matters worse, the power went out and it was a scramble to find a torch and not trip over any of the artwork.

‘‘It was definitely a scary experience,'' she said.

At the opening, guest artist Phil Newbury, of Invercargill, spoke about the artwork he sculpts from glass and told an amusing story about his travels in the Middle East in 1994.

He said he had received a job offer in Saudi Arabia from a friend and decided to take the opportunity.

When he was in the oil-rich Muslim nation, he was staying in a building next to a mosque and was woken every morning at dawn by the loud call to prayer.

To solve the problem, a friend suggested he listen to some music and gave him a CD in Arabic.

He said he vaguely recognised the tunes and the female voices, but only realised he was the butt of a joke when his Muslim co-workers pointed out the CD was the Spice Girls in Arabic.

Newbury was voted the most popular artist of the exhibition on Friday night for his glass sculptures.

Committee member Margaret Erskine, of Wendon, said Saturday was very busy and three days after the opening on Friday night, 110 artworks had been sold.

• The exhibition is open daily from 11am to 5pm, and until 7pm on July 22. The exhibition ends on July 26 at 4pm.

- By Tim Buckingham

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