48 Hours in Kāpiti - Arts Trail edition
It was German textile artist Anni Albers who first suggested “Art is something that makes you breathe with a different kind of happiness”.
It’s a feeling familiar to both locals and visitors to the Kāpiti Arts Trail.
- Sharon Stephenson
But this year it’s even more apt: 2020 marks the 20th anniversary of the Trail that snakes through galleries and studios from Paekākāriki to Ōtaki where local artists invite the public into their workspaces to view and buy their traditional or contemporary, and decorative or functional artworks.
This year, the Trail runs from 7-8 and 14-15 November and as befits its 20th anniversary, an even more stellar line-up of artists and their work are participating. With over 300 artists involved at 66 sites this year, it’s worth planning ahead and choosing where you most want to visit. So here’s a selection, and a rough – but by no means definitive – guide to spending 48 hours in Kapiti on the legendary Kapiti Arts Trail. Make sure you pick up the Guide (or download it here) or look on the Kāpiti Arts Trail website for more information.
Start out early and get your morning shot of joe at the Perching Parrot where you can check out the Paekākāriki Index Exhibition (there’s one in each village!), a taster of the Paekākāriki artists’ work on display. Then pop next door to the old Holtom’s Building. Once upon a time this was a uniform factory but wander upstairs and today you’ll find a lively studio-gallery. Alan Wehipeihana is an Arts Trail regular, and he’ll welcome you in to see his work which ranges across artistic mediums, running the gauntlet from painting and carving to furniture, upcycling and mixed media. In fact, if Alan can turn something into a fantastic piece of art, he probably will!
Another artistic resident of the Holtom Building is Dianna Fary. A painter for more than 20 years, Dianna works mainly in oils, using an expressionist style and marrying colour with texture to create strong atmospheric elements.
Don’t leave Paekākāriki without a quick spin down to Ocean Road to visit Joe Buchanan in his Diatom Press studio, set in the most wonderful garden setting. Joe’s exquisite prints of marine life forms are drawn from his experience as a marine biologist.
Point the car in the direction of Raumati South where you’ll find Marcus Ebbett’s studio in Rosetta Road. A professional artist for six years, Marcus works with a range of materials, including oils, in his landscape subjects that often lean toward the nautical. Not far away, you’ll find Rita Schrieken and jeweller Rebecca Bond sharing a studio in Renown Road. Rita, well known for her garden sculptures and contemporary wall art, has been part of the Trail from very early days.
By now, your stomach might be rumbling so head to the Surfer’s Mistress in Paraparaumu Beach. Don’t leave without sampling the hot, smoky arancini balls, the best this side of the Vatican. This is all about authentic Italian classics done well including Bologna-style Ragu and crispy pizzas showered with Parmesan and draped in peppery sausage.
Fortified, it’s time for more art. French-Canadian artist Micheline Robinson has exhibited her striking sculptural glass-like works on 2D surfaces in 12 countries over the past decade. Once again, Micheline throws open the doors to her studio in Trusham Court, Paraparaumu Beach.
If you’re heading back down the coast, pop into Sue Wilson and Janet McDonagh’s Two Sisters Pottery at Raumati Beach. Janet is a master of ceramics and mixed media that take their cues from nature and the whimsical, including original and inspirational art in her garden.
Head to Paraparaumu Beach to view the amazing work of artist Ken Hunt. Probably best known for his work on the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit film trilogies, Ken’s classic realism paintings in oil cover still life, portraits, animals, and landscapes.
Not far away in Manly Street is Jenny Shearer, whose pottery can be found everywhere from Lower Hutt’s Dowse to the Christchurch Art Gallery. Jenny, who has been turning out her mainly ceramic work for quarter of a century, focuses on beautiful but also practical pieces such as teapots, cups and vases. Her daughter Tanya Shearer shares her studio with her own bold ceramic art.
If your taste runs to contemporary bling, pop in to see Helen Punton who works under the Gem Division label. This is jewellery with soul – one-off bespoke pieces that feature textured metals and gemstones in striking configurations including rings and earrings.
Detour through Waikanae for lunch at the Long Beach Tavern in Tutere St where you can enjoy fish and more-ish twice-cooked chips a stone’s throw from the sea. Tip: save room for a slice of treacle tart with gingernut ice-cream you’ll still be talking about days later.
Then call in to Owie Simpson just up from Long Beach for her amazing primitivist artwork, and take the back way to Peka Peka, taking in eclectic artist Diane Connal on Field Way, and sculptor and ceramicist Michelle Retimana in her studio in the dunes of North Waikanae Beach.
Alternatively, meander up to Waikanae Village to visit a couple of amazing mosaic artists: Jane Santos in another amazing garden, and Claire Lever, sharing Diane Vassey’s studio. Make sure you visit Mahara Gallery to see the “100 days a Journey” exhibition of 24 Kāpiti artists.
Zoom up to Ōtaki but turn off just before to literally see the light at Totaranui Glass Studio in Ōtaki Gorge. Glass artist Rachel Pfeffer is renowned for her stunning sculptural glass art both in New Zealand and internationally and at her studio you can see her turn glass into unique sculpture and windows.
Continue up the Ōtaki Gorge Road to Birgit Moffatt’s rural studio, to get a fascinating insight into how she creates fine fibrework with fabric and flax.
It’s probably no surprise Ōtaki Beach artist Sonia Savage turned to lush oil painting. Bold colour and design are in Sonia’s blood, as the granddaughter of Kāpiti artist Brian Trask and descendant of world-renowned artist Cedric Savage. Pop in to see Sonia’s vibrant works, many of which reflect Kāpiti’s stunning natural environment. You’ll also see Tom Beauchamp’s wood creations “where art meet architecture” and Rod Graham’s vibrant clay creations at Sonia and Tom’s property.
On your way back from Ōtaki, pop into Kim Kobialko’s Studio Reset to see a rare artform that dates from the time of the Pharaohs, encaustic painting. (Kim also is an AirBnB host, if you want to stay one more night…)
If daylight is fading about now, don’t worry – there’s always next weekend! Make sure you keep the Kāpiti Arts Guide: many artists are open year-round or by appointment so you will be able to visit (or revisit!) the next time you come to the beautiful Kāpiti Coast