by Helen Martin
The great turnout for Labour Weekend’s Arts in the Ville demonstrated how much traction this fabulous festival has gained in just four years. With over 1,500 people attending – up 33% on last year – locals and out-of-towners had the chance to talk to some 54 artists and watch them work, some in their studios, some in public venues like the community hall and the former Art Stop. There was plenty of art on sale too, and many people either bought work or filed away an artist’s name for a future purchase.
As it did last year, the celebratory atmosphere started a week before Labour Weekend, kicked off by Mitre 10’s Art in the Garden, a Saturday event where visitors could view some of the pieces that would be on show during Arts in the Ville, have a glass of wine and some crackers and cheese and listen to Ukelele Union strum some tunes and sing old favourites. On Friday 19 October, the night before Arts in the Ville opened, Helensville Women and Family Centre held a fantastic art auction.
The town, brightened considerably by the yarn bombing efforts of organisers Kura Geere-Watson and Jo Dixey, was buzzing all weekend, with local businesses reporting brisk sales in food and drink. One highlight was The Hat Walk where, before a large, appreciative audience, locals modelled Myra Lloyd’s gorgeous hats in the hall. Another was the Alphabet Hunt, the Helensville Art Centre’s contribution to Arts in the Ville. The hunt involved finding each letter of the alphabet, made from corrugated iron by local sculptor Jeff Thomson; the prize was a Jeff Thomson sculpture, in the form of a very large, corrugated iron mahoe leaf. Lured by the prospect of owning a Thomson art work, hundreds of people spent many hours trailing up and down Commercial and Mill roads looking for the
letters, with some out-of-towners even returning to Helensville each day. In the end, 178 entries went into the draw, which was won by local six-year-old Abigail George, who went on the hunt with her mother Anita (Helensville Community News compiler), her Nana Cushla and her brother Daniel. Drawing out the name of winner, on the spur of the moment Jeff decided to award prizes to two more entrants.
The organisers wish to thank everyone who took part and make special mention of the North West Business Association, who generously paid for the indispensable map, which guided people around the venues, and the map’s designer Hannah Stoddart from the Uptown Business Association.
Question: Will there be an Arts in the Ville next year?
Answer: Put it in your diary. The hall, which provides the festival’s central point, is already booked.