Bringing cutting edge art to rural Southland

Annie Bourque standing in front of Dunedin artist Jim Cooper's off-beat sculptured clay figures in Waikaia's Butcher Shop Gallery.

An art gallery owner in Waikaia is hoping to bring the arts to rural Southland and encourage people to enjoy them in a relaxed way.

The Butcher Shop Gallery in Waikaia is the host of 'The Faces We See', an exhibition being run as part of the Southland Arts Festival. Local and national artists working in a variety of media will present a portrait exhibition to evoke the emotions when looking upon the face of a friend, family member or lover.

The Butcher Shop Gallery owner Annie Bourque said she was proud of the fact Waikaia has been included in the Southland Arts Festival for the past three years.

"(Festival director) Ange Newell has chosen to spread the festival... often it's only the main centres that get art." 

Mrs Bourque said Waikaia had a sellout show for Olive Copperbottom and wanted to help build an arts culture in the area.

"There wasn't access to art when we were kids, I'm really trying to build the art community." 

The exhibition will feature art by three artists from the North Island, three from the South Island and Mrs Bourque's pieces.

The popularity of the exhibitions at the gallery had definitely increased over the past few years, she said.

"Absolutely — when I first started it three years ago I had probably 20 people through the door, last year I had 100. This year I'm hoping for double that." 

"People are travelling out to Waikaia, coming out from Invercargill... I had a carload of people come from Arrowtown," she said.

"Art has always been a good vehicle for communication, I'm so excited that we've got this little gallery in the old butcher shop."

"Meat used to hang on the hooks and now the art does." 

Mrs Bourque said it was important to bring artists to Waikaia that they would normally never get to see. She also wanted to see people as relaxed in an art gallery as they would be in a sports shop.

"Southland is such a sporting area. I'd like to see more people being relaxed about engaging in arts — it's not about thinking you have to understand the art."

'The Face We See' is being held for free at Butcher Shop Gallery till Saturday, May 19, open daily from 10.30am till 4.30pm.


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