Oxford Gallery toi o Waimakariri has made the decision to temporarily close the gallery and its current exhibition, Philip Trusttum’s What have we got here, until the end of Easter. The decision is centred around both Omicron and the opportunity to review the North Canterbury gallery’s commitment to the communities that it serves.
Oxford Gallery lead, Areta Wilkinson emphasises that closing the doors to the public will give its volunteer whanau “’pause’ to take care of families and themselves over the Omicron peak. ‘This pause is a positive opportunity. Oxford Gallery will continue to be warmed by a small team working to strengthen the future of the gallery, to plot a new community engagement plan for more creative activity at Oxford Gallery.’
Wilkinson’s commitment is in addressing the Waimakarriri District Council’s recent decision to create a portfolio for arts and culture, its principles and agenda stating that ‘the community’s cultures, arts and heritage are conserved and celebrated,’ and at the top of the list is the creation of a ‘local‐voice’ for the arts. ‘Community galleries in our district are delivering community wellbeing outcomes for the Council and we now need Council support through an Arts Strategy to succeed.’
Wilkinson further highlights that the current voluntary model is not sustainable. ‘The pandemic has clearly shown our weak points, our community based arts centre requires ongoing funding top ups that you need to qualify for when you apply, and funding is increasingly competitive. We are asking ourselves questions like: How are we going to survive and stay relevant in the current context? How do we develop and engage our community to future proof the gallery? So, we are taking a pause, to strategically regroup then get on the advocacy-waka and go back to the Council. There is a lot of mahi to do including identify and connect with our community of creatives and stakeholders’.
‘As a point of difference our arts centre can offer more creative development and connectivity for the wellbeing of our community. It would be fantastic to enliven the gallery with activity every day that it is open. Coming up is we have contemporary jeweller and weaver Mathew McIntyre Wilson, (Taranaki-NgāMahanga, Titahi) for our Matariki season in June. Then in August we have a group show of artist many of whom tramp annually into the Southern Alps. The exhibition includes Haru Sameshima, Craig Hilton, Conor Clarke, Mark Adams, Ann Shelton, Bruce Connew, John Miller, Tim Veling, Sam Hartnett, Joe Jowitt.
We will be back. When we press pause - it is about opportunity.’
Oxford Gallery toi o Waimakariri
Main Street, Oxford
- Philip Trusttum, installation of his exhibition, What have we got her, with his painting, Way to go, acrylic on canvas, on the right.