Wednesday 10 October 2012

Craft in the Great Outdoors

Art in a Garden at Flaxmere Garden.
New Zealanders love their gardens and heading out into the great outdoors. While some of us still have to spring clean our gardens ready for summer (note to self!), the Art in a Garden team have been busy preparing their garden for months. And it is not just any garden! Picture seven glorious acres recognised as a Garden of National Significance. Now picture more than 75 sculptors, potters, jewellers, and artists exhibiting their work in this garden, accompanied by live music by Fiona Pears, workshops, and cafe style food in an event spanning three and a half days from October 25.

Standing Hare by 2011 winner Elisha Clarke.
There is something inherently special about seeing crafted objects made of stone, wood, metal, clay and other materials displayed in a natural outdoor setting. Eight years on, this growing event based at the Flaxmere Garden in Hawarden, North Canterbury continues to deliver it's company objective: to showcase to the public the creative talent of many New Zealanders in a unique garden setting whilst fundraising for Amuri St John and The Cancer Society. Art in a Garden is now run by four people: Penny Zino (garden owner) and Alison Meyer (the two founding creators), Rachel Zino (daughter-in-law) and Pip Miller (Alison's daughter) and we caught up with Penny and Pip to find out more. 

Art in a Garden is in its eight year. How is this Garden of National Significance looking this year after so much rain?  
The garden is looking amazing - all the rain has made things bolt! The snow caused massive problems, but all has been rectified with the help of two very able sons & a tree surgeon!

What are you most looking forward to this year?
Being impressed once again with the incredible talent of our New Zealand sculptors, painters, potters glass artists, jewellers and furniture makers.

Ceramics by Sue Newitt (foreground) on display in 2011 inside the 1890 barn on site.

A range of craft disciplines are represented this year such as furniture, ceramics, glass, jewellery, and weaving. What attracts established and emerging exhibitors to your event?
The professional approach to displaying all the exhibits.... both outside and inside. It is an instinct, displaying sculpture to enhance its being and this is done particularly well. The fact that sculpture is displayed in a garden gallery (Garden of National Significance ) and not indoors, which always gives exhibits a new meaning. Paintings, pottery and more craft objects are all displayed in an 1890 barn that has been adapted as an art gallery, with all the correct lighting. This has created a unique atmosphere.

"Promoting an interest in the arts for our children is one of our top priorities." Tell us about the children's sculpture competition, limestone carving workshops and ceramic painting workshops. 
The sculpture competition for children is not really a competition so much as a chance for children to have a go at making something that interests them. There were no prizes but a chance for them to have their work displayed amongst adult artists. Last year created a lot of discussion and in some cases, a lot of laughs as one appreciated the sense of humour amongst the young. Art in a Garden has a special tent for the children’s activities. Often it is difficult to encourage children to come on a day's outing to a garden to look at art.  While they enjoy a short time their parents enjoy longer, hence the classes where introduced to both encourage children to enjoy creating art while parents wander together with parents and children spending time together appriectiated the exhibition.

Bon Suter teaching limestone carving in 2011.
The Sculpture class run by Bon Suter was great fun... the children took it all very seriously... and worked hard at the limestone supplied. There was great industry in that tent... some making figures others different shapes but all having a try with a medium they had not used before

The ceramic painting classes will be a first for this year, so I am unable to comment! It will be a happy time exploring another medium. 

Craft Aotearoa loves the correlation between materials in the garden, and materials in crafted objects on display in the garden. How do the general public benefit from this type of event? Does it foster a greater appreciation of materials and the environment?
Having all this happening in a garden creates a wonderful day out in a peaceful, non-challenging way. The public can appreciate beauty, peace and the creative energy of so many talented people. The café supplies all the food they may require and live music adds another dimension. Yes, it can put you in tune with nature and invigorate your soul.... maybe that is what great gardens are all about!

What is your long term vision for Art in a Garden?
To make Art in a Garden the most successful outdoor exhibition / event in New Zealand! 

Art in a Garden
25 - 28 October
128 Westenras Road
North Canterbury 7385
General equiries to Rachael Zino at

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