Performance artists and events facilitator, Audrey Baldwin has opened her own unique chemist shop in Cathedral Junction prescribing cures and remedies to raise levels of wellbeing and heightening awareness of the visibility of the arts in in Ōtautahi Christchurch.
She describes Art Chemist as an interactive space where the public can meet with a consultant who will advise them on an arts activity/event that they should attend to cure their needs. As an interactive event in Ōtautahi, Art Chemist has its origins in The loss Adjusters back in November 2012, a project from the immediate post-quake period in which artists Aaron Hawkins, Jed McCammon, Jamie Hanton, Clarke Hegan and Damian Smith met ‘clients’ seeking solutions to the challenges that they confronted. For Baldwin, there are also personal and professional precedents: Cup of Tea and a Lie Down Clinic at CoCA in 2017 and as mystic and bureaucrat, in Gallery Guide at the Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū in 2019.
Baldwin’s says that Art Chemist will be ‘made out like a chemist shop with pill bottles with messages and recommendations in them. I'll be working with about a dozen fellow artists and performers form Ōtautahi who will act as 'chemists' and prescribe artworks and arts events to the public. It will be free to take part, and people can either pick up an off-the-shelf prescription or get a one-on-one consultation with the chemist for a custom made one.’
‘Art Chemist draws on global research about the value of “art on prescription” when it comes to mental wellbeing and community building. I was thrilled to have letters of support from the Canterbury District Heath Board’s All Right? for this project. Ideally I'd like to take it to different cities and help people re-discover the arts treasures within their own communities.’
In its commitment to encouraging participation in the arts and its potential for well-being, Art Chemist reaches out across all arts disciplines. Baldwin is encouraging engagement with numerous arts organisations; galleries, theatres, venues and arts resources. She describes it as a directory which her chemists and her can draw ingredients from. ‘Our prescriptions may include particular artworks, events, classes or exhibitions. I'll be focusing on artworks which people can see locally, in the flesh, as opposed to pixels of “great works' on a screen”. The journey and action of actually being physically near the works is key’.
‘Art Chemist has a broad reach to schools and the city’s galleries who will be on the list of recommended things to visit. The Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū is involved and also indie theatre group, Little Andromeda, and a number of performance artists.’
‘A key aim is also to encourage engagement and support of our arts community. We'll be acting as somewhat of an encyclopedia of arts organisations and resources with brochures and info on site as well as prescriptions.’
I'm interested in taking bureaucratic processes and making them more human and/or highlighting their absurdity. Art Chemist is definitely about hope and connection in a world where we've all been isolated and affected by a global pandemic and more.’
Audrey Baldwin, Art Chemist
Cathedral Junction, 113 Worcester Street/corner of New Regent and Gloucester streets
Until Sunday 16 May
Thursday-Sunday 11am – 4pm and Friday 5-7pm: Free arts event taking place each week
Art Chemist is made possible by the CCC Enliven Places Project Fund and supported by LIVS.
- Audrey Baldwin, Stretch Snood. Two figures from Cup of Tea and a Lie Down Clinic as part of Making Space at CoCA Toi Moroki, 2017.