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Student artworks to be exhibited at Spring Loaded exhibition

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Q & A with Marc Blake

Celebrating a new season and new art, Queenstown Contemporary’s Spring Loaded art exhibition starts this week (9th September – 2nd October).

The art gallery in 5 Mile, Frankton, has garnered a reputation for showcasing the diversity of visual arts in the region. The Spring Loaded event continues this theme, this time with the addition of 17 young artists from Wakatipu High School. The students’ works will be shown alongside works by more than 20 emerging and established artists. 

“There’s a full spectrum of ages and stages and a diverse range of mediums in this exhibition,” says Queenstown Contemporary artist and founding gallerist Marc Blake.

“I’ve always wanted to do a group show with everyone together. The positive thing for the high school students is that they’ll get to see how a show like this operates – they’ll get to do something outside of the classroom.”

What kinds of art can we expect at this show?
‘Spring Loaded’ is intended to be a big, playful and diverse snapshot of creativity in Queenstown. The exhibition will feature original paintings, photography, drawing, sculpture, jewellery, woodwork – basically the full gamut. There will be over a hundred pieces on show, ranging from students at Wakatipu High School, emerging artists, through to established professionals like Tony O’Keefe and Jessica Winchcombe. 

What does it mean for you to have the students involved? How important do you think it is, for these students, to have their art out there in ‘the real world’?
I’ve had a constant dialogue going with the Arts Department at WHS since I judged their painting awards in 2019, they are fantastic teachers and their students are extremely talented and have consistently achieved at the highest national levels. 

I am always looking for ways to give senior art students a way to take their ideas and skills out of the classroom and into the world. Allowing them to create new work separate from their studies and show it publicly to their community, alongside local, professional artists of all ages is a wonderful opportunity for everyone. This experience is fundamental for students to gain not only art-making insights, but is hopefully also a way to begin to build skills towards any professional role down the line. We need to focus on building an industry with career pathways in Queenstown for students and adults alike to gain experience and employment in the arts.

In topsy-turvy times, how good does it feel to be able to put a show on like this, to keep sharing the community’s creative work?
It means everything to me to be able to put on community focussed shows any time and I have already done some of the biggest in our region, but it’s especially important during such a challenging period.
I specifically sought and received funding from Creative NZ to do exactly this, because no one else could.  We have an incredible pool of people here doing what they can for arts and artists, but our infrastructure is currently extremely outdated and inadequate. The owners of Five Mile have entrusted me with this incredible space to use, but it’s only temporary and when this is gone, there’s going to be a huge, gaping hole in the arts here.

By the end of this year I will have shown the works of around 200 artists to thousands of locals and visitors and the demand has never been stronger. We simply have to find a way for something like this to continue.

Is the artwork for sale?
There will be lots of artworks for sale and this is a chance for you to not only find some beautiful pieces for your home, but is a way for you to directly support the artists living in your community. 

The show opens September 9 and runs until October 2, with the gallery open Wednesday to Sunday 10am - 4pm. Please come in and explore this wonderfully diverse show.