Back in the late 90’s, Barbara Wolvenden from Katikati visited a logging town, Chamainus on Vancouver Island in Canada. The town had turned its fortunes around with murals painted throughout the town. She found some motivated residents in Katikati and from a public meeting in 1991 a great journey began in her hometown. It is now the 25th Anniversary of Katikati Open-Air Art. In 2006 the Mural & Arts Festival, a week long event celebrating the arts in Katikati was started.
Fast forward to 2015 and we attended the last day of this year’s event. Plenty on offer. A great craft market on Diggelmann Park, a nice green oasis on the Main Road. Members of Troupe Waihi entertained at the park and around town with mime and great costumes . Stilt walkers, a performer in a rubbish tin, a zombie bride and wandering magician were just a few who entertained children and adults alike. John Groves, Katikati’s resident Town Cryer, was in full cry and regalia. It was only a short wander along to the Memorial Hall to see the Katikati Art Expo. I used to live near Katikati and I recognised some of the artist’s names from the regular art exhibitions I attended over the years. Lots of new names as well. Rob Burrell had nice crisp edged still life paintings and some landscapes. Leigh Bassigner had some reverse glass paintings which gave quite a different effect. Tricia Hamilton had great pen and ink portraits. Sally Thrush showed mixed media with a beach theme. Carolyn Watts, Judy McLean and Val Helms had floral paintings which were very pretty and well executed. It was great so see a wall of smaller canvases and framed paintings which are great for people with smaller houses who still want original art.
In the Memorial Lounge two of the Mural competition entrants were completing their entries. The Mural competition this year had six entrants. The winner was announced on Sunday night and Shane Walker from Waihi Beach will be having his winning entry on a wall in Katikati. His ‘Jurassic Paradise’ mural featured a tuatara, Nikau palms and the sea. At the Talisman Centre Simone Anderson from The Incubator was painting a 60’s style painting bringing together different cultures and a Chilean artist who lives in Southland had a large mural ‘Kind Land’. A leather work display also featured in the same space and next door the history of the Mural Festival and Open-Air Art group was documented along with a display of entrants in a photographic contest.
Over in the Old Fire Station Thames Valley Floral Art Group had a great display. The themed display, Wahine’s Kete,had flax bags as a base for their displays. Sculptured by the Sea used seaweed, shells and driftwood and in a side room Treasures of Aotearoa had some large freestanding displays with several using Nikau palm leaf pods.
The Old Fire Station which has been repurposed to be a future museum occupies a prime spot in the middle of town and is painted a bright red so you can’t miss this iconic building. The back wall has a large window that overlooks the river and there is also a deck out there. Great to see a building being reused for art and cultural purposes. Located next to a playground and the Library it will be well patronised.
Cherry Court with its metal cherry tree and new paving hosted the E-Bop Ukelele band from Whakatane. This bright and talented bunch played and sung lots of old favourites and even had time for some dancing. Dodging the showers they definitely made you smile and tap your toes. A sculpture display was on in Little Blue House. Decorated bird houses were on display in Betta Electrical with a steady flow of people going into view them. .There really was a lot on offer for children at the festival including face painting and balloons. Looking over the programme the week long festival seemed to have something for everyone to see and do.
Diane Hume-Green Diane is a regular ARTbop columnist. Diane is a member of Tauranga Writers and has a background in fashion, music and design.