On November 24, Whakamarama’s Atrium Art & Artisan Fair celebrates its second birthday. I attended the very first monthly fair in 2017 and love how much it’s flourished since then.
The fair was originally started at Black Sheep Restaurant to provide a place for talented locals to sell their wares. The wonderful Peta Clavis and her Black Sheep partners have supported the fair over the last two years by providing the venue free of charge. As an artist I know how much this helps enable an affordable and therefore accessible opportunity for artists and craftspeople running stalls.
On rainy days, the fair moves indoors, which means it has been able to continue right through winter, despite possibly being a little disruptive for the restaurant. There’s great camaraderie and support though, with live music and a relaxed atmosphere enhanced by the fabulous food on offer.
Walking into the fair, you realise quickly that these stallholders have become great friends. Sometimes they’re boogying away dancing to the music and you forget the week’s events as you just settle into their bucket of happiness.
As the fair grew over the 24 months, more volunteers offered to help run it, and the organising team came up with the idea of opening a gift shop and gallery at the same venue. Once again Black Sheep very generously allowed the use of their conference room for a shop, with the atrium and restaurant walls becoming the gallery, all free of charge.
The team then spent months collecting and painting furniture, painting walls, contacting local creatives, gathering stock, marketing and getting the shop ready for the opening, which happened in February 2019.
“Local creatives now have a relaxed and friendly place to sell their products and hold monthly exhibitions,” says co-organiser Birgitt Shannon.
“We give artists the opportunity to have solo exhibitions, but also hold several themed group exhibitions during the year that everyone can be a part of.”
People don’t need to be artists to join these exhibitions, which include entries made of wood, ceramics, metal, textiles and even folded paper.
The gallery has started new initiatives like a recent quiz night, and a sheep themed exhibition, recognising the connection with Black Sheep.
During November there is a group exhibition in the gallery called ‘Celebrating Music’.
The fair’s second birthday is being celebrated on November 24 from 11am – 3pm with live music, great food and stalls.
Located at 21 Plummers Point Rd, Whakamarama, the Atrium Gallery is open from Wednesday to Sunday each week from 11am. For information about anything happening at the Atrium Gallery contact firstname.lastname@example.org
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