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King St art centre turns 25

King St Artworks celebrated 25 years with a new exhibition opening at Aratoi.

Hundreds attended Wairarapa’s museum of art and history for three related events: An exhibition commemorating the King St anniversary in the window gallery, the associated book launch, and Kotahitanga – a collaborative exhibition between several Wairarapa art centres, including King St.

From the beginning, Ian Chapman was involved in Masterton’s open-door community arts centre.

He was on the establishing committee back in the 1990s, then he was a tutor, and now he is the centre’s coordinator.

Chapman said the original purpose has stayed the same: “to provide a safe space where somebody can look after their mental health and wellbeing through creativity.”

King St Artworks has an open-door policy, no fees, and anyone can come along.

“We’ve always insisted that mental health is something we need to get a grip on straight away.

“Sometimes you don’t need to go to a GP; you can just come along to King St Artworks,”

Chapman emphasised the importance of creativity as a tool for improving mental health.

“When you create, you’re in a different zone, not focussing on your unwellness or problems at home or your kids,
you are just in the zone creating, and it settles your mind,” he said.

He said that a strong community spirit has been integral to King St’s success and is a core theme of the exhibition titled Ra Whanau ki a King St Artworks – Celebrating 25 Years.

It will be open until December 4.

“We’re a very supportive organisation, not just staff supporting artists, but artists helping each other through peer support.”

“We are a family; we’re very inclusive and very willing to have more people join,” Chapman said.

The exhibition opened alongside a book launch commemorating the milestone.

Stories were collated by Madeleine Slavick, with contributions from many community members and people involved with the centre’s history, including Masterton’s former mayor Bob Frances.

The opening of Kotahitanga: Coming Together Again, was a collaborative exhibition between several community art centres, including King St Artworks.

The exhibition, which celebrates the reuniting of artists after the covid-19 pandemic, will run until November 13.

“We’re very fortunate in being represented in two shows at Aratoi at the same time,” Chapman said.

King St Artworks is open from Monday to Saturday.

Three tutors are on the workshop floor daily, and free art materials are provided.

Flynn Nicholls
Flynn Nicholls
Flynn Nicholls is a reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age who regularly writes about education. He is originally from Wellington and is interested in environmental issues and public transport.

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