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Inaugural Exhibition For Impressive New Foxton Arts Collective

Bringing together no less than 12 established artists – to work as one, in creative spirit – is no mean feat. A new local arts collective, convened by contemporary artist Albert McCarthy, has battled the odds though and is all set to unveil its first exciting display of multimedia works in Te Awahou Foxton.

From 18 December onwards, bright life-size sculptures inspired by sea and climate will go on show alongside photography and paintings inspired by whakapapa and tangaroa – in the Māpuna Kabinet Art Gallery, at Te Awahou Nieuwe Stroom.

“We have an abundance of high-calibre artistic talent here, in Foxton and the Beach,” says Albert McCarthy from the Te Awahou Arts Collective.

“I thought it was time to bring our works together, so that we can show our depth of creativity to a wide audience. We all come from different backgrounds, and that vibrant diversity definitely makes our show come alive. We could think of no better place than to have our first show in a beautiful multi-cultural facility like Te Awahou Nieuwe Stroom.”

The 12 members of the Te Awahou Arts Collective have been working on their ‘Kotahi Tonu te Wairua o Nga Mea Katoa’ exhibition for over six months. The art will be on display in the Māpuna Kabinet Art Gallery over the summer period, from 18 December until Sunday 6 March.

“We’ve made a start, and we have bigger plans,” says Albert. “Next year we aim to participate as a group in the Art Trail Manawatū and the Kāpiti Arts Trail. I see our initiative as a result of what has evolved in Te Awahou Foxton, over the past few years. We are slowly growing into an arts and heritage town. Our collective wants to play an active part in that transformation. It’s exciting to be part of that vision and aspiration.”

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In the last six months or so, a brightly-coloured 50m Art Mural by Amsterdam artist Jan van der Ploeg was added to Te Awahou Riverside Cultural Park, plus a ‘paint by numbers’ community mural facilitated by local artist Sonja Hart. In February, a Bonsai Tree sculpture by artist Leon van den Eijkel will be added to the Park. There are plans for additional sculptures in the River Loop Reserve as well.

“The arts and creative sector is worth some $11 billion a year in Aotearoa and employs around 90,000 people,” says Arjan van der Boon, Marketing Manager of Te Awahou Riverside Cultural Park.

“The arts are a potential career path for our rangatahi that we want to promote strongly. So we are very keen to show off the strong local talent in our Māpuna Kabinet Art Gallery. With Heemi te Peeti next door, working as a traditional whakairo carver and tā moko artist, we have a great deal to offer in both traditional and contemporary art here in the Cultural Park.

“Our town is becoming an important pivot in the arts ecosystem, by stimulating opportunities, discussion and learning,” says Van der Boon.

“We’re slowly becoming known as an arts destination for visitors from throughout the region. And all those people coming into town, will bring in extra revenue for our shops and cafés. They will see how we’re transforming and growing economically. The arts is a tourism performer, and it helps people connect with each other – and that’s important in these pressing times.”

The ‘Kotahi Tonu te Wairua o Nga Mea Katoa’ exhibition, by the Te Awahou Arts Collective will dazzle visitors from Saturday 18 December 2021 to Sunday 6 March 2022.

“We have so many works to display, that we have to install them in three separate groups, over a period of seven days,” says McCarthy.

“The variety of works on display will offer visitors the opportunity to learn and be inspired by local history and the creativity of our artists.

“We will be there at times, to have a chat with people and make the stories of the art works come alive. And even though it’s a difficult time of the year to bring in the schools, we hope to have good numbers of ākonga and rangatahi come through as well."

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