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The Home Fire : Learning to love the Hutt

St Peter Gone Fishing by Bob Gerrad. Showing as part of the Home Fire Exhibition

Well worth the trip up the motorway, the latest Exhibition at the Dowse Art Museum makes me wish I was a Hutt kid.

The Home Fire exhibition is a celebration of all things Hutt. It displays a broad representation of the culture, creativity and community found just north of the capital.

This is a sense of community spirit that goes well beyond cake stalls and kindergartens as Hutt people can do anything (and have done everything), it seems.

From the mountain bike that Dion Fraei built almost entirely out of paper when working at a office in Auckland, to the knitted rock and roll dolls (including a cuddly Kurt Cobain) by Yvonne Burns, this collection has diversity that Wellington’s Te Papa would be hard done by to match.

Some of the most surprising pieces of work are those that were ‘dobbed in’ as part of a campaign to uncover the creativity of the Hutt. The project began February and attracted nearly 200 people, some who dobbed themselves in and others who where dobbed in by family and friends. This meant chair craftsmen and homely artwork sat beside children’s portraits and smaller works - including a single leather shoe.

Even Massey University photography students took to the task and put together the beautiful ‘Full Blown’ - a collection of photographs ‘dobbing in’ Hutt youth. The large book captures hidden talents of the Hutt, with gorgeous pics of lounge room B-boys and girls, heavy metal bands and ballet lessons. The photographs would be worth an exhibition of their own.

There is an overwhelming sense of personal pride in the collection. The Home Fire piles a huge amount of local history and knowledge together in an absorbing way. Beside those who have left for brighter lights, there is work from those who remain in the Hutt and even artwork from inmates at Rimutaka Prison.

This exhibition is one that all Hutt people should see and be proud of, but its also a chance for voyeurturistic out-of-towners to take inspiration from.

By Emma Philpott

Kupenga by John Puketapu - shows the variation in what's on offer at the Home Fire Exhibition

The Home Fire exhibition runs until 18 February 2001.

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