Amongst the green coolness of tall trees, and neighbour to a well-tended, productive potager garden is the Backwal Art Gallery. I guess you could call it Ōtaki’s hidden treasure because the home-based gallery features the artwork of sculptor, Michelle Backhouse, her husband, contemporary painter, Edward Walton, and their daughter, painter and jewellery designer, Camillle Walton.
Backwal Gallery has been part of the Kapiti Arts Trail for three years, and open to visitors every Sunday, but Michelle and Edward (both Fine Art graduates) felt “they were ready for more.”
The couple are both art teachers, Edward at Waiopehu College in Levin, and Michelle at Kapiti Community Centre. She also runs children’s art classes from home. Michelle has had her work shown at Mahara Gallery, and, with Edward, exhibited as part of Ōtaki Forks Artspace, curated by Joy Wilkie.
“We did well with Joy. Like the Arts Trail, people gave good feedback, and we sold a lot of work,” said Michelle.
That positive outcome, combined with a lessening of work committments, and “the kids leaving home,” resulted in more time, more space, and a plan “to develop our own gallery.”
Michelle visualises the cottage-style property, “we love our garden,” as part of the gallery, with perhaps a cafe-type atmosphere.
“We thought we’d buy a coffee machine, so people can sit and chill in the garden as well as looking at the artwork. We want their gallery visit to be a relaxing one.”
With an emphasis on “friendly for struggling artists,” the gallery hopes to offer new opportunities for the Kapiti community to view the high-quality work of serious, dedicated and accomplished local, New Zealand and international artists.
Saturday 30th and Sunday 31st January,
11.00am till 4.00pm
99 Atkinson Ave,
The opening show on Saturday 30th and Sunday 31st January, 11.00am till 4.00pm (99 Atkinson Ave, Ōtaki) features displays of Michelle’s sculptural artwork using paper pulp, Edwards “abstract style” paintings, and the beautiful (often whimisical) jewellery of Camille, combined with Ōtaki-based artist and children’s illustrator Trevor Pye (who can forget the wonderfully illustrated Grandma McGarvey and Grandma McGarvey Paints the Shed?).