A judicial blend — new life for old information centre

FE16_Judicial-outsideAn historic courthouse hosting a gallery of local artwork may seem an unlikely blend, but colour, an eclectric range of well-crafted material, ranging from painting and quiltmaking to willow garden supports, have given Ōtaki’s gracious old lady a new lease of life.

“And there’re no ghostly judges here,” laughs Kevin Haste. “I’ve not felt any bad vibes, quite the opposite, in fact.”

FE16_Judicial-inside1Kevin is a potter and jewellery-maker, part of the Artscape Art and Craft Cooperative, previously housed in Te Horo’s Hyde Park Village, and now an intrinsic part of Ōtaki’s cultural and art community. The Cooperative is made up of local artists and crafts people who dispay and sell their art, generating income from their sales.

The dark timbers of the heritage-registered courthouse frame and enhance artwork, and the increased space, there are three rooms for exhibiting, removes the somewhat cramped feeling that prevailed within the Te Horo site.

“We moved in three weeks before Christmas and we’ve been pretty busy,” Kevin says. “With a lot of passing trade, though some of the locals haven’t caught up with our move yet.”

The Artscape Art and Craft Cooperative includes Catherine Douglas, Karen McKeown, quilter Robynne Fellows, Kirsty Green who works with textiles and other media, potter Rod Graham, artists George Thompson and Sherryle Robson, and Lynda Richardson who creates artwork using mosiacs.

FE16_Judicial-inside2Kevin explains that the gallery features a new artist every six weeks, giving “a constant fresh look to the displays.” Staffing is done on a rotational basis with Cooperative members, who share their various skills and knowledge with visitors. Workshops and demonstrations, such as offering visitors a try with a pottery wheel, are planned for the future.

“The courthouse gallery is a great spot to promote local artists and craftspeople – a real community asset.”