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Tuesday, 23 April 2019 08:06 am

Artist-in-residence moves into Toi Poneke

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ARTIST Natalie Smith has earned a studio at the Wellington’s creative arts space Toi Poneke.

As the Whitireia-Toi Pōneke Artist in Residence she will produce a body of work to exhibit at Wellington Arts Centre’s gallery at the end of the year.

Ms Smith, above, has just moved in and says she is still getting to know everyone.

“I can really feel it’s going to be a really inspiring place for me to be and I’m looking forward to meeting some new people and making some new connections.”

Ms Smith, who has just completed a Bachelor of Applied Arts at Whitireia Polytechnic, has exhibited in New Zealand and overseas, in Kuala Lumpar.

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NATURAL SELECTION: One of Ms Smith’s artworks, being exhibited at the Academy of Fine Arts.

She will exhibit in Sydney in April.

She grew up in Owhiro Bay, and went to Wellington High School, where she “always did art”.

She then worked in the fashion industry after doing a certificate in pattern making and garment construction.

After working in a menswear store for five years, Ms Smith started the Bachelor of Applied Arts in 2011.

“I decided that I wanted to get back into more visual arts.

“I don’t know if it was something that was ever really a decision. It’s something that I’ve always known I wanted to do.

“I think it’s just a need to make things and it’s the way that I make sense of the world and learn about things, through art.”

Ms Smith works in a lot of mediums, from painting to print-making and object making, and works with a variety of materials, from Indian Inks, to latex and raw-hide.

Toi Poneke started eight years ago when the Wellington City Council saw the need to support arts practitioners and the creative community wanted affordable studios and offices, says manager of Toi Poneke, Paora Allen.

“The Council saw it as important to support the creative arts sector in this way to keep a strong growth happening in the sector,” said Mr Allen, who is a member of the city arts team.

natalie - mike - headshotToi Poneke does not just cater to visual artists. It has offices for group such as Young and Hungry, Shakespeare Globe Centre New ZealandArts Access Aotearoa and film producers, music studios, a dance studio, workshop and rehearsal spaces and a photography dark room.

Mr Allen, left, says the number of tenancies in their 30 studios and 22 offices has grown.

“Our tenancy occupancy has grown in the last eight years to maintain at 95% and higher, so in terms of artists and creatives needing offices and studios, we have a waiting list of people to occupy those spaces.

“We have a turnover of probably five to 10 people moving in a year and out a year. We have a fairly constant renewal.”

The tenancies for studios have a maximum limit of three years, and Mr Allen says that in the two years of his management, about half of all tenants stay for the full three years.

“I have had about half a dozen people who have reached their three maturity and wanted to stay on.

“We’ve got another half a dozen who are soon to reach that three year mark, so generally about half the artist in art studios use the full tenancy agreement.”

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IN-HOUSE GALLERY: Paora Allen standing infront of one of the exhibits at Toi Poneke’s gallery.

The map, below, shows where Toi Poneke is in Wellington.

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