Art for the ages
Organisers keen to involve artists from the region Coming to Whanganui is a spectacular fundraiser — a charity art exhibition and auction involving community-minded Whanganui people and 100 artists. To raise money for Age Concern and held in conjunction with Artist’ Open Studios, the event is called Old Age, New Age, and is set to take place in March. Leading the organising team are Jan Bullen and Andrea Bullock, and they are happy with the number of artists who have already assented, considering they started organising just a couple of months ago. Each contributing artist is given a canvas 300mm by 300mm on which to base their work. The canvases were donated. They can choose to use any medium, but the completed work needs to be back with the organising committee by the end of February. “We are wanting local artists,” says Jan. “We have artists like Peter Ireland and Don Hill on board, and we have also invited artists from outside Whanganui.” Jan says they went to the NZ Academy of Fine Arts in Wellington where she saw the kind of exhibition they hope to do. The academy kindly donated its templates for correspondence and exhibition rules to assist with what it regarded as a good idea and a noble cause. “Everywhere you go, everybody is on board, everyone is really positive about it,” says Andrea. It’s a great opportunity for artists to showcase their work and to help a worthy cause, says Jan. Until recently, Jan was chairperson of Age Concern. The exhibition will run from March 18 to 26, with an opening on March 18. “But the big night will be on March 26, which is the grand gala evening,” says Jan. Details will be in the Artists’ Open Studios guide. Also on the organising committee is Elise Goodge, and one of the contributing artists is Whanganui’s Catherine Macdonald. “We have to use the [300mmx300mm canvas] as the base for our work, but we can manipulate it in any way we like,” says Catherine. “We can make a 3D thing off it . . . they’re being delightfully flexible.” “The money from this show is for a specific project, which is something Age Concern has been talking about and looking into for some time,” says Elise. “It’s around Age Concern having a mobility vehicle.” A people mover has been offered by a local firm, but there is significant cost involved in turning it into a purpose-built mobility vehicle able to take wheelchairs and people with limited personal mobility. “The fundraising is so that Age Concern can accept the gift [the vehicle], then they will sell their current vehicle, which is used for staff to attend appointments and things, and the costs associated with that vehicle will be able to be put into running the mobility vehicle.” Elise says they can then train volunteers to operate the new van and start using it. “One of the things they identified is people who can no longer drive, but who have appointments in Wellington and New Plymouth, and find it hard to get to those specialist appointments.” Elise says the idea of an art exhibition and auction creates a product that people will want to bid on and which makes use of one of Whanganui’s primary resources, its art community, and also to attach to an existing event, namely Artists’ Open Studios. “It’s a time of year when people are visiting Whanganui to look at art,” says Catherine. “It’s a silent auction over the two weekends of Artists’ Open Studios,” says Elise. “So people come in, see the work they want and bid on it. They might not be from Whanganui, but could get a phone call to tell them they had the highest bid.” The works’ manageable size means they can be posted to the successful bidder. Catherine says this is a way for artists to use their skills help the town they live in and support a worthy event. “For me, I have a strong sense of community and I’m pretty fond of Whanganui: I feel like it’s done a lot of good for me so it’s nice to be able to give back.” “I like the idea as well that we’re giving it to the artists now, before the summer and Christmas break, so they have all that time to work on it at their leisure,” says Elise. Since its inception in 1978, Age Concern Whanganui has become a busy place helping many elderly people. There are 18 services on offer, including the opportunity for the community to become volunteers. By doing this, they get involved in the community and see Age Concern at work. Throughout the exhibition there will be brochures and information available for people to pick up and chat about. Therefore, the exhibition will help make the organisation more visible, highlighting the enormous amount of community work Age Concern Whanganui undertakes, and the support it needs. The exhibition and auction are sponsored by Property Brokers Ltd, Vicky Todd and Tess Hunt at Property Brokers Ltd, Whanganui Car Centre and Whanganui Insurance Brokers Ltd. If you’d like to be part of this event please phone Elise Goodge 021 178 8451, or Jan Bullen 0274 958 022 for more details and to collect your canvas.