No ordinary gallery

GALLERY GREETING: FRONT: Esther Haerewa, Mereaira Kerr, Adrienne Stewart, Fiona Collis BACK: Hana Parata-Walker and baby Ponui Te Purei with Michelle Kerr. Picture by Liam Clayton

THE spacious, comfortable and well-lit art gallery next door to the White House in Peel Street might seem at odds with its namesake, Te Kuwatawata, guardian of the entrance to the spirit-world, but Te Kuwatawata is no ordinary gallery.

With two or three smaller, exhibition spaces, workspace, meeting room and children’s space — all of which display artworks — the gallery provides a multi-purpose zone based on a unique concept.

“Te Kuwatawata is one of the sons of Rangi and Papa. He was the gatekeeper between our world and the spirit world,” says gallery mataora (change agent) Nick Tupara.

“The baseline philosophy behind this is to help people work with a better balance in their lives and in their spirit.”

Te Kuwatawata functions within a health-based organisation that offers health services that are alternative to mainstream clinical services.

“When you walk in here you engage with a health service within a gallery space. The thought was not to have a clinic or doctors’ rooms but a wrap-around sense of art and creativity.”

In-house are doctors, nurses, clinical specialists and tohunga — but there is no sense of entering a clinic or waiting room on entering the gallery.

Visitors are more than welcome to view the art alone, says Tupara.

The walls of the main gallery area are lined with large panels that allow alterations to the space to accommodate various artists’ work.

Te Whare Ripene, an exhibition of ribbon weaving by Te Aitanga a Hauiti artists opens at the gallery today.

“We set the boundaries of exhibition areas with colour panels in the gallery.”

Glass-topped workstands function as stylish display cases and lounge-like seating is largely made up of smart outdoor furniture. Lightweight pieces were selected so seating can be arranged according to need. Plentiful seating encourages visitors to use the art as conversation pieces, says Tupara. Visitors can even remove an artwork from the wall to sit with and discuss it in more depth. A piece of work might express better what a person is feeling, he says.

“We have been getting feedback from artists that this isn’t a strict gallery space. This is a gathering and engaging space where artists get to show their art.”

People who would not typically visit a gallery visit Te Kuwatawata. When people spend time in the gallery — and flexible seating arrangements make it a comfortable space to spend time in. They feel restful “as you do when you have beautiful things around you.”

“It’s a new way of putting art into the community and the community into the art.”

THE spacious, comfortable and well-lit art gallery next door to the White House in Peel Street might seem at odds with its namesake, Te Kuwatawata, guardian of the entrance to the spirit-world, but Te Kuwatawata is no ordinary gallery.

With two or three smaller, exhibition spaces, workspace, meeting room and children’s space — all of which display artworks — the gallery provides a multi-purpose zone based on a unique concept.

“Te Kuwatawata is one of the sons of Rangi and Papa. He was the gatekeeper between our world and the spirit world,” says gallery mataora (change agent) Nick Tupara.

“The baseline philosophy behind this is to help people work with a better balance in their lives and in their spirit.”

Te Kuwatawata functions within a health-based organisation that offers health services that are alternative to mainstream clinical services.

“When you walk in here you engage with a health service within a gallery space. The thought was not to have a clinic or doctors’ rooms but a wrap-around sense of art and creativity.”

In-house are doctors, nurses, clinical specialists and tohunga — but there is no sense of entering a clinic or waiting room on entering the gallery.

Visitors are more than welcome to view the art alone, says Tupara.

The walls of the main gallery area are lined with large panels that allow alterations to the space to accommodate various artists’ work.

Te Whare Ripene, an exhibition of ribbon weaving by Te Aitanga a Hauiti artists opens at the gallery today.

“We set the boundaries of exhibition areas with colour panels in the gallery.”

Glass-topped workstands function as stylish display cases and lounge-like seating is largely made up of smart outdoor furniture. Lightweight pieces were selected so seating can be arranged according to need. Plentiful seating encourages visitors to use the art as conversation pieces, says Tupara. Visitors can even remove an artwork from the wall to sit with and discuss it in more depth. A piece of work might express better what a person is feeling, he says.

“We have been getting feedback from artists that this isn’t a strict gallery space. This is a gathering and engaging space where artists get to show their art.”

People who would not typically visit a gallery visit Te Kuwatawata. When people spend time in the gallery — and flexible seating arrangements make it a comfortable space to spend time in. They feel restful “as you do when you have beautiful things around you.”

“It’s a new way of putting art into the community and the community into the art.”

Te Whare Ripene, an exhibition of ribbon weaving by Te Aitanga a Hauiti artists opens at Te Kuwatawata today.

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