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Friday, 25 April 2014 08:17 am

Fundraiser for Rape Crisis draws local artists ‘out of the woodwork’

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LOCAL ARTISTS have donated dozens of original works to be auctioned in support of Wellington Rape Crisis (WRC).

An exhibition of the paintings, illustrations, sculpture, ceramics and jewellery is on show at Matchbox Gallery, 166 Cuba Street, till the auction on Saturday December 8 at 7.30pm.

“There are heaps of artists and a real range of works,” says WRC centre manager Natalie Gousmett.  “It’s an awesome range of beautiful things.  We think there will be something for everyone.”

And they will be priced for everyone, too.  Some pieces will have a starting bid of $40 or $50 while others will begin in the $100-$200 range.

Ms Gousmett says the idea of an art auction came up at the beginning of the year when WRC was thinking of events to add to its fundraising calendar.

“We talked about doing something different — a way to get different people involved in what we are doing.”

One of their volunteers, Emi Piuila-Afitu, came up with the idea and, along with other WRC volunteers, has helped put the exhibition together.

They put a call out on creative community website The Big Idea for artists to contribute. Facebook supporters also answered the call.  “There has been a really good response,” says Ms Gousmett.

Posters advertising the event drew more willing artists out of the woodwork, and there are now more than 20 artists contributing work.

These include Gemma Tweedie, Gemma Louise, Cesar Koene, Sarah Hudson, Julianna Venning, Devon Smith, Fleur Woods, Kelly Spencer, Rebeka Whale, Jamie MacDonald, Maz Hermon, Anthony Cabraal, Amber Varde, AEK, Maria Kovacs, Meta Assink (whose work Volcanoes is pictured above) and Tanya Stewart.

Wellington Rape Crisis, which offers support to survivors of sexual abuse, has been operating in Wellington for 35 years.  In addition to counselling, the centre provides community education and advocacy.  More than 1000 people use the service every year.

The past year has been tough for WRC. In August it faced an immediate 20% cutback in services due to a lack of funding, with a deficit also forecast for 2013.

The shortfall in operating costs meant the centre had to close on Fridays and put its future in doubt.

News about the cutbacks led to a series of donations.  “We had an amazing response to our funding plea,” says Ms Gousmett. WRC raised more than $67,000 in just a few weeks.

A month later, an anonymous donation of $50,000 was made.  “It enabled us to open our doors on Fridays again, and made up the deficit for the next year.”

At the same time as funding is in doubt, demand for WRC’s services continues to grow, she says.  “So we need to put things on like this to fundraise. They are important so that we can put money aside to operate long-term.”

The auction will be held at Matchbox Gallery, 7.30pm on Saturday, with wine and nibbles.

Anyone who wishes to bid on an artwork but is unable to attend the auction can email lizw@wellingtonrapecrisis.org.nz.

PHOTO: Liz Willoughby-Martin

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