Wonky and wonderful

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C.S. Art tutor Michelle Dawson looks at some Wonky Village sculptures in the style of Friedensreich Hundertwasser which are part of Open Doors. Tatau Tuwhera exhibition on display at Raw Gallery.

A COLOURFUL, eye-catching Wonky Village in the style of Friedensreich Hundertwasser resides in the corner of Invercargill’s Raw Gallery in Don St, as part of C.S. Art’s (Creative Studios for the Arts) latest exhibition Open Doors. Tatau Tuwhera.

Architect and visual artist Hundertwasser was mainly known in New Zealand for designing the colourful and quirky toilet block, which used recycled materials, glass bottles, bricks, irregular ceramic tiles, mosaics, small sculptures, coloured glass and a live tree as part of its design in Kawakawa.

C.S. Art tutor Michelle Dawson said the diverse exhibition of acrylics, watercolours, sisal rope creations, gouache, pastels, sculptures, graphites and ink works had been created by 40 artists.

“After a period of time in isolation, it is fitting to celebrate the feeling of palpable release; the opening of doors.

“Some struggled, others enjoyed, but we, all together, continue to experience something heretofore unknown and something quite unpredictable.

“Open Doors offers the raw vulnerability of our way of life being tossed on an ocean of uncertainty, yet within each of us is an incredible strength and fortitude to exist; to survive; to thrive.”

Complementing the artworks at the exhibition were several free-standing murals by community artist Janet de Wagt and students, each one telling a story relating to the artist’s life and experience.

“The murals had been installed on podiums which had been recycled after use at the general election,” C.S. Art tutor Gina van Wichen said.

Dawson said C.S. Art was “a place of belonging for everyone” and operated from a rented room in the WEA Building, Esk St.

Classes were specifically designed for people with disabilities and/or mild mental illness, with art tutors and artists van Wichen, Dawson and Zerika van Jaarsveld.

“Each student chose their own subject, from their own life experience and preferences to create something unique to them, which gave a glimpse into the life and world of the students.”

Into its 17th year, C.S. Art began in a room behind St Mary’s Basilica in Invercargill with four students, Dawson said.

“It now welcomed 40 students, had three part-time tutors and five trustees or committee members.”

Dawson said it was a place of inspiration, peace, healing and creative pursuit for all who were connected with it.

  • Open Doors. Tatau Tuwhera. C.S. Art, Raw Gallery until Friday, May 14.
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