Jo Connor and friend Vivienne Kerr are beginning to get quite excited. Jo’s dream project, Matakana Creative, is well on its way to being realised in May next year. Inspired by Wanaka’s Autumn Art School which is coming into its 28th year, Jo decided that Matakana would be an ideal place to start something similar.
“This area has a very similar feel to Wanaka,” she says. “There’s an existing artistic community which is very inclusive; many people know it as a creative region. It’s close to Auckland, and has plenty of accommodation. There’s a fantastic infrastructure of food, wine and galleries – and a hugely supportive network of friends who are also keen to get this off the ground!”
Matakana Creative will be a series of eight five-day, arts-based workshops and six one- or half-day events. The vision is that all participants will enjoy some social time together as well, so there’ll be some fringe activities such as artist talks, local walks, yoga, a shared meal at Brick Bay… and drinks each evening at Vintry in Matakana.
There’ll also be specially priced dinners for participants at Matakana Market Kitchen, and lunches available to order. The week, which runs from May 8-12, will kick off with a welcome function at the Vivian Gallery from 5pm-8pm on Sunday May 7, sponsored by Bayleys Matakana.
Jo and Viv are both Aucklanders but are up here a lot – Viv is hoping to move up this summer. Because of their contacts, they’ve been able to muster an exceptional group of volunteers from the local community who all feel a sense of common ownership for the project, which is just how Jo likes it. There has already been some suggestions for 2018, but the pair joke that they mustn’t get ahead of themselves.
So what’s available? The arts workshops will encompass: painting and drawing with Mandy Thomsett-Taylor, making a Windsor chair with Richard Hare (starting with a block of wood!), an eco-dyeing and felting textile workshop with Marion van Oeveren, writing fiction with Owen Marshall, a kiln-formed glass workshop with Liz Sharek, digital photography with David Wethey, flax weaving with Kahutoi Te Kanawa and sculpture with Jeff Thomson. All tutors are highly-qualified and, in many cases, multiple award-winning masters of their arts.
Other events will comprise two half-day trips to Gibbs Farm which will include a delicious lunch. And there’ll be four celebrations of local food and wine cooked by exceptional chefs in some outstanding local homes: the Didsbury’s Big House at Brick Bay, Lauraine and Murray Jacobs’ Omaha beach house, Cathy Gould and Roger Donald’s Matakana home and at the Sawmill Brewery.
Places for all of the above are very limited – around eight only for the workshops and fifteen for the lunches, so best to get in early if you’re interested! This is the beginning, hopefully, of something very good indeed.
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