Art Centre Overview
Since 2010 the Eastern Southland Gallery has been working on the establishment of an artcentre in the gallery-owned former East Gore Presbyterian Church & Hall. Designed by prominent architect RA Lawson and built in 1881, the main historic church building and later 1960’s hall addition are sited on terraced land overlooking the Mataura River. This initial purchase of land and accompanying buildings for public, cultural, use was generously supported by the Presbyterian Synod of Otago & Southland, and the on-going redevelopment of this property has been receiving significant support from a wide variety of organisations, business houses and individuals.
In short, the completed art centre will host six key components:
A fully functioning lithographic studio featuring plant and equipment kindly gifted by Muka Studios of Auckland
A broad purpose printmaking studio with etching and woodblock printing facilities
A painting and general purpose studio space
A self-contained flat for visiting artists
A temporary exhibition space
An eventual art education centre in the main historic church building
This art centre will serve to complement the Eastern Southland Gallery exhibition and outreach programmes. It will also provide opportunities for on-going artist-in-residence programmes, as well as sponsored fellowships, master-classes and school-based art projects.
To date the fully self-contained Artists’ Flat (Stage 2) has been completed. This includes a wide range of gifted furnishings including the ‘Royal Suite’ of bedroom furniture commissioned for Queen Elizabeth II’s 1953-54 tour of New Zealand.
Most of the exterior work and key operational components for the Art Centre Studios (Stage 3), sited in the former hall, are also well in hand. This includes the relocation and installation of Muka Studio’s 135 year old, 7.5 tonne, semi-automatic Voiron lithographic press, associated equipment and a priceless collection of lithographic stones. Most recent improvements have included a new coloursteel roof, barge boards, spouting, exterior plastering and painting, a new ramp, entrance and landscaped front garden.
It is hoped that by the spring of 2018 we will have raised the necessary funds to deal with the last of the internal fit-out of the print studios. The interior work still to be undertaken involves floor finishing, electrical and plumbing work, heat pumps, hand driers, alarm system, work benches and wooden racks for lithographic stones. Once completed we will be able to set up the printmaking presses and associated equipment kindly gifted by artists Nigel Brown, Marilynn Webb, Dave Duston and Jacqueline Byars. At that point the studio can begin to host visiting artists.
Stages 4, 5 and 6 involve the full restoration of the interior and exterior of the old church building under the guidance of leading Heritage Architect Jeremy Salmond and landscaping of the back garden.