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Providing a canvas for creativity

Media Release

Providing a canvas for creativity

If every picture paints a thousand words then there are pages full of stories behind the array of artworks that will be on display in Wellington from next Monday.

Works produced at Creative Spaces from around the country are being showcased in about 15 galleries and cafes throughout Wellington and Lower Hutt as part of the Celebrating Creative Spaces Conference.

The conference, organised by Arts Access Aotearoa, starts with guided tours of the exhibitions on Monday February 24, which leave from the organisation’s office on the third level of the James Smith Building at 11am and 2.30pm.

Creative Spaces give those with limited access to the arts the opportunity to create, perform, and develop their own art. They work with artists who have disabilities, refugees and migrants, children, the elderly and prison inmates.

Arts Access Aotearoa Executive Director Penny Eames says there are about 90 Creative Spaces around New Zealand, involving an estimated 4,500 artists.

“By celebrating work that has been created by people who have been seen as being on the margins of society, we include them in what we are doing. We encourage this creativity because people have a right to be part of society, and the right to express themselves. Their artwork is passionate and exciting.

“What we used to do with people with intellectual disability or psychiatric disability was find the furthest piece of land away from houses and put them in institutions, and then virtually throw away the key – now we are realising that many people with disabilities can contribute to our society, particularly through their art.”

Penny Eames says it is the first time the conference has been held and it came out of a demand from the groups themselves.

“Each group is unique, but they share a love for the arts and a belief that the arts should be accessible to all. Groups didn’t know how many other groups were working in the same way. This is an excuse to bring them all together, look at what has been achieved and look at what else can be done.”

2/Gallery tour

Penny Eames says there has been a tendency for organisations working in the arts for people with health and justice programmes to see themselves as secondary to other services or provisions in these sector, this is not the case any more.

“These Creative Spaces are now a mainstream way to work with people who are the margins of society and they are a way to bring people into society. This professional conference illustrates that the arts can provide a professional contribution to health and justice sector outcomes and they really work to encourage creativity and social inclusion. Creative Spaces and the people who visit them are an important part of society and they are here to stay.”

Penny Eames says the standard of work continues to “blow her away”.

“The standard of work whether it is performing, literary or visual art is worth seeing, buying and experiencing. The artwork is passionate and exciting – you can buy this artwork as cheaply as an expensive print so doesn’t it make sense to be buying these originals?.

“The work has this raw energy which is extraordinary and I am also impressed with the way the works are produced and presented.”

The conference, being held at Wellington’s Brentwood Hotel, runs from February 25 to February 27, and has attracted more than 300 delegates. It features international guest speakers and will be opened by the Associate Minister of Arts, Culture, and Heritage Hon. Judith Tizard.

The exhibitions are also open to the general public with venues including Christopher Moore Gallery, Pablos Art Studio - Roar Gallery, Bowen Gallery, Alay Centre, Wellington Convention Centre, Eva Dixon Café, and the Wellington City Council Atrium. Lower Hutt’s Farsite Gallery, Pasta al denté and the Dowse Art Museum are also showcasing work.

There are also three exhibition openings. Two on Monday evening at Christopher Moore Gallery and Bowen Gallery – both at 5.30pm and another on Thursday 27 February at 7pm at Farsite Gallery in Lower Hutt.

For more information contact Penny Eames, (021) 321-048.

Note to reporters: The following are among those taking part in the conference:

The Cottage Mill, Whangarei
NZ Children’s Art House Foundation, Rotorua
Longview Rest Home, Tawa
Artsenta Creative Arts Trust, Dunedin
IHC Art House, Petone

Auckland West Prison, Auckland
African Community in Waikato, Hamilton
Creation, Christchurch
Phonic, Lower Hutt
Pablos Art Studio, Wellington

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