Creating a Pop-Up Collab Art Space in Wanaka!

ArtCell - A Pop-Up Collaborative Gallery and Open Studio Space by 9 Wanaka Artists

Soooo, this has been an incredibly exciting month…


After returning from New York I was a bit lost and didn’t have many fellow creatives to hang out with, so I started googling to see who I could find. I set up an Instagram page showcasing the artists of Wanaka as I found them, thinking it would be a good way for us to connect and visitors to find us. I had discovered that there is a lot of talent in this town. We started catching up once a month, good chats about art and getting to know one another. It was great as most of us just spend time in our studios alone!


At our November gathering I mentioned an idea that had brewing in my mind…I’d been dreaming of setting up some kind of a collective space that nurtures creativity, conversations and connections. This rapidly turned into a really passionate conversation as we realised we were aligned with a lot of our thinking, particularly in helping inspire creativity in our youth. I went to see a few buildings just for fun, but soon realised it was a massive goal to even rent something for a year!


I had been in touch with my friend Amanda from Wilson&Dorset – she was looking for a Pop-Up for summer… she has delicious fluffy rugs and I have art, we thought it was perfect fusion. On the 1st of December we came to see a potential Pop-Up site, the former Police Station on Helwick Street, the main street in Wanaka. Location perfect. Space intriguing…enough walls and several smaller rooms, it was too big for just the two of us…we needed more artists! After a quick chat with my hubby, I called a few of the artists I had rounded up to see if anyone was interested in joining.

We met up for coffee the following morning...9 of us, several of which were just being introduced for the first time. After a chat and brainstorming session about how it could work, a few days later...confirmed, they were are all in!!


Big mind maps were drawn and tasks were distributed. Graphics got underway, signs were painted; a bank account opened, eftpos ordered; a name was chosen, a domain booked and a website was growing; the walls and cells were being painted and we were all flat out finishing artworks too. I was going hard on an instillation for one of the cells and other artworks inspired by the police station (glittered hand cuffs, why wouldn't you!) In Wanaka you don’t often find a building to play with that has a bit of a story.


Mark and I painting in the former cells...his for our Aurora Instillation and mine for the Golden Cell.


When I first mentioned this to friends, a common response was "Good luck, working with 9 artists will be like herding cats!" But I have to say, that the artists rocked. Everyone is practical and driven and even though we are all still getting to know one another, we are all getting on so well.


The invites went out....Jane was phenomenal at getting graphics and things done!


We all met up in the space with a few of our artworks to start the hanging process...it all seemed to flow pretty well once the first few were chosen, and they went up rapidly. Everyone dashing home to chose others art works as we filled the walls. Once the bedazzled skull art from Natashia arrived, it took on that next level!


The signs are up, the wine and food was delivered and the people arrived….we had our grand opening on the 13th of December 2017!!

ArtCell Artists - Amanda from Wilson&Dorset; Martin Hill, Mara Modlin, Philippa Jones, Jane Kellahan, Victoria Stevens, Neal Palmer, Natashia Bartley, Alice Herald, Stephen Martyn Welch and Sonia Richter


9 days, 9 artists, we did it!!!!! We are ready to OPEN...... 13th December 2017


A few images from opening night...we had a great turn and and have now been open for 2 weeks and everyone is loving it. Whoop whoop!



Images from opening night of ArtCell December 13th 2017 - We had a fabulous response and we are all extremely happy spreading wild creative energy in Wanaka!


And the best thing...

We have set up an Art Scholarship for the local high school, Mt Aspiring Collage - 10% of our sales will go into helping send someone on to art school!!!!



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