This Time is the Right Time to do it – Join Now!
As artists in the annual Mahurangi Artist Studio Trail, we often hear visitors say, ‘one day I would like to take part in something like this’. It is said with wistful yearning, a daydream finally expressed out loud. Established five years ago, the Mahurangi Artist Network (MAN) has grown over the years to include artists who share a wide range of artistic practices and experience levels. We have very experienced artists, as well as mid-career and emerging artists and some exciting new talent just taking their first forays into the creative scene as part of its very inclusive membership.
If you are a local visual artist, becoming a member of the Mahurangi Artist Network (MAN) is a great way to grow your art practice, to help reinforce and give focus to your creative endeavours and to get to know others who also share the same passion to create and make ‘ART’. So, who better to ask than the artists themselves who are members of the Mahurangi Artist Network why they joined the Network and what do the like about being a member and participating in the Trail?
Warkworth Textile Artist and Weaver, Sharlene Hasler joined the Network three years ago, “I wanted to connect with other artists in the local area. Being part of a group of like-minded people builds my confidence and I also love being inspired by the other artists in the Network. The Trail is a great time to get feedback from the public about my work. I always learn a lot and make new contacts”.
Oil Painter, Rosemary Rowe from Warkworth became a member of the Network in the early days, “I joined to be able to meet other people, artists who would help inspire me with their work, give me some confidence in my work and hopefully be part of the first art trail. I was very nervous on that first Trail, had no idea what to expect or what to say to people. I sold 5 paintings at that Trail and had so much positive feedback which in some ways was even better than selling my work. What a boost to my confidence it was. The trail motivates me. I love meeting all the new people who come and also catching up with those who have come to see my work each year. I feel I can now talk to people about my work with confidence, telling them about each piece, where it is, and the technique used in those paintings. The satisfaction of knowing that someone liked something that I created enough to buy it, to hang in their home, to look at and maybe remind them of somewhere they have been or maybe would like to go. And this year a list of people who want to come and have lessons with me. I want to remain a member as it keeps me in touch with other Artists and what's going on. The annual Art Trail is really the only outlet I have to sell my work but being part of the group has given me the confidence to explore other avenues now too”.
Glenda Hopkins, Painter and Mixed Media artist from Mahurangi East said, “The things I like about being a part of the Network is the exposure to new ideas and techniques: By interacting with other artists in the Network, I can learn about new approaches through their art, gain insights into different styles and techniques, and discover new sources of inspiration simply by hearing one another’s stories and what inspires them as individuals. During the trail, there were opportunities for collaboration: Collaborating with other artists in the Network could be a great way for an artist to, not only, push their own boundaries, but also explore new ideas, and create works that they might not have otherwise thought of. I did not have the opportunity to be a part of this, but I certainly was inspired by the concept and works. The Mahurangi Artist Network advertises and sources other resources such as workshops, mentorship programs, and funding opportunities that I, as an artist and also full-time worker, do not have the time to seek out. This resourcing is a valuable tool for growing artists and it's great that this is fed out through the Network. One of things I appreciate is the members are overall. not precious about sharing what has worked for them and thus enabling others to also be successful. Being a part of the network provides us as artists the opportunity to showcase our work in group exhibitions, open studio events, and other events organized by the Network. This grows us in exposure and also assists in reaching new audiences. Personally, I notice a huge jump in my Instagram and Facebook likes and followers after each Trail for several months. I also found that people build a relationship with the artist, and this enables the ability to connect with new works and be available to do commissions. Keith Haring said, “Art is for everybody”. This speaks of the importance of making art accessible and inclusive to all, regardless of background or skill level. Creating art in communities as a network enables us to share in this”.
First year member, Printmaker and Mixed Media artist, Sally Thrush from Snells Beach said, “I joined the Mahurangi Artist Network to meet fellow creatives in this area, as I only moved here last June, I thought it would be a good way to meet up with other artists. And it was. The Art Trail was brilliant, I really enjoyed this experience. It had been a while since I had participated in an art trail, so I was a bit apprehensive, I needed not have worried about that.”
Also new to the Network Noila Souza, Painter and Mural Artist from Mahurangi West said she, “first joined out of curiosity, to join a ‘team of artists’ and to get involved with the community. I am a new artist and I like the idea about learning and exchange experiences. What I liked about participating in the Mahurangi Artist Studio Trail was that I got to learn from experienced artists, to learn new techniques, and I like the community idea of working together. I also found it a great way to show my work”.
Maureen Roke, Painter, and Sketch Artist from Studio 22 in Snells Beach has also been a long-time member of the Network, “I joined the Network as it is always good to be with a group of like-minded people, for learning, creating and friendships. There are benefits of being part of a group, e.g., a group has a stronger influence on activities, like acquiring the use of the Warkworth Town Hall for the Trail, advertising on a much wider scale than I can do by myself and sharing new ideas and knowing helpful people”.
Point Wells painter Jane Malone, fortuitously joined the Mahurangi Artist Network on the eve of the recent Art Trail after seeing an advert for the Studio Trail, “I was very surprised to get a call from them the next day inviting me to exhibit two pieces of art in the exhibition (Members Showcase at the Warkworth Town Hall). This was a bit daunting as I hadn’t exhibited before and was a complete novice. I was so grateful for the opportunity and for the lovely people I met there on opening night. It was very well run, and I was in very good company indeed when I viewed the quality of the art on display”.
Encaustic Painter and Ceramicist, Caroline Bell from Wellsford joined the Network, “to meet other artists in the area, being a solitary artist can be very isolating at times. The Network gives up to date information of exhibitions which is very handy and there is of course, the Trail which was great to be part of and good marketing. I’m very happy I joined; it has been just over a year now”.
Snells Beach artist Peter Mansfield has participated in the Mahurangi Artist Studio Trail for the past two years. He works mainly in wood and said of the Network “the whole group are very supportive regardless of your talent and experience level. We are all on a journey to nurture and share our talent and you can receive many technical tips on materials and technique too. I also like having a profile on the MAN website, resulting in exposure to other interest groups”.
Painter Ann Cook from Mahurangi West, joined just this past year, “I have been drawing and painting for several years, mainly on my own and occasionally signing up for various classes. I had admired the work of the small group of people who had founded the Trail and thought it would be a good group to join as it became more established in the area. When I joined, I had no intention of participating in the Trail. Being a member is fun, informative, and enjoyable. There are a range of different talents, some more serious than others, with everyone offering a different definition of the meaning of art. As a new-comer, I have had wide-ranging, honest conversations with people who are willing to share their expertise and experience. It has always been done with a smile, a phone number or invitation, and supportive words of encouragement. Participating in the trail was educational and very enjoyable. I was lucky enough to be sharing a studio with two experienced, professional artists who had been exhibiting for years. Their kindness, practical support, guidance, and professionalism made the whole experience, despite the challenges of weather, exciting. It was a huge learning experience for me, and I could not have done it without them. I am debating whether I would participate again next year mainly as I am at a crossroads of what I want to paint and where I want to go with my art. I would still be a member whether I participate in the Trail or not. As an individual artist I can only achieve so much. As part of a group, I know I can achieve so much more and, hopefully, encourage other budding artists to join also in the adventure!”
Annual membership for the Mahurangi Artist Network runs from April through to end of March the following year and is currently only $60. All the Network activities are artist led and inspired and so many have found it very beneficial to continue their active membership throughout year leading up to the February Trail. For instance, some Network members are currently discussing the possibilities of a mid-year group show too to add to the Network repertoire of initiatives. Participating in the annual Trail is optional as not all members are able to open up their studios to the public during our February Trail but members also have the option of listing in the Year-Round Mahurangi Art Trail Directory found on the MAN website for a list of studios and local galleries and art related business that are open year round or by appointment throughout the year for no additional cost other than your membership fee. Otherwise take advantage of any Network group shows on offer, or studio visits and gatherings with fellow members throughout the year. Being a member of the Mahurangi Artist Network is a great way to expand your creative network and make you friends who share the same passion as you.