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Common ground for all senses

A record player, an indoor garden, and gallery walls painted in colours to soothe the mind are highlights at Featherston’s newest creative and wellness space.

Called Common Ground, the space in the centre of town is the latest project by Holly and Zac Winterwood, Wairarapa musicians and champions of the arts.

“Common Ground is primarily an art gallery,” Holly said. “But we leased the premises [formerly homewares shop Totem] because of its potential as a multi-use space.”

The Winterwoods and a team of volunteers have been busy painting and filling the space with art ahead of its opening this Saturday, juggling the work with their full-time jobs.

“With Featherston’s Booktown event this weekend, we didn’t want to miss the opportunity,” Holly said. “We’ve had a couple of working bees to get things done and just get the space open – we’ll be showing art by half a dozen local artists and also running a market over the Booktown weekend, with all stalls already booked.

“The former shop is perfect, with deep window spaces to showcase art, wooden floorboards and lots of wall space. We had a shoestring budget to renovate but have had paint donated by locals, as well as the use of equipment.”

Instead of a harsh white gallery space, the Winterwoods have chosen earthy tones – greys, blues, browns and creams – for the interior.

“We wanted to create a calm, inviting space, not a stark white vibe,” Holly said. “We have a holistic view of what the space could be.”

The pair plan to offer art workshops and classes, sound meditation, yoga, live music, and a regular market with “different wares and offerings, not produce”.

“The artists we have coming on board have a particular aesthetic that people may not find elsewhere,” Holly said.

She also recently appealed online for practitioners or facilitators interested in using the space – for workshops, yoga or meditation classes, pop-up stalls, or art projects.

The Winterwoods moved from Melbourne to Wairarapa almost eight years ago. Holly works full-time in the health sector and is studying towards a Master of Music Therapy at Victoria University in Wellington, while Zac is a videographer.

Community projects have included composing music for plays at Greytown Little Theatre, an original opera debuted at the 2017 Kokomai Festival, and meditative sound bath experiences at Bodymind Pilates studio in Masterton.

They are Carterton residents, but Holly said Featherston was special to them: “It’s a great town and is our second home. The community is quirky, eclectic, creative and very welcoming,”

Holly and Zac are passionate about providing a space for youth to be creative: “We’d like it to be a space for teens to come after school and experience art, photography and music, with the autonomy to create, in a space that feels like their own.” At its central location, the venue is easy for Featherston youth to access, Holly said.

Common Ground will contain a vinyl record listening space with seating and a record player, where people can also listen to and purchase music from the Winterwoods’ own record label, East Cape Calling.

“We’re also planning an indoor artists’ garden, with sculpture and plants for a further sense of calm in the space.”

    Common Ground’s opening market and art show will be held on Saturday May 13, and Sunday May 14 at 50 Fitzherbert St, Featherston, 10am to 4pm. For more information, search Common Ground on Facebook and Instagram, or email hwinterwood @gmail.com

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