Uptown Art Scene

Situated in the old Police barracks at 1 Ponsonby Road, Studio One Toi Tu is a real community arts hub, with exhibitions, classes, artists-in-residence, and even some chocolate biscuits when I called on a blustery Thursday.

Community art centres nourish the development of the arts ecology. They are the rich humus from which things grow, and so are essential for, and indicative of, the well-being of the wider community.

Under the steady steerage of Siobhan Connelly, Studio One Toi Tu is home to a vibrant mix of art events. This year’s Residency Program nurtures artists working with film, dance, sculpture, photography and typography – a diverse and exciting mix; the results of which will be exhibited towards the end of the year.

The first floor galleries are always a delight to view. On my visit there were brightly coloured paintings of K’Road by Timothy Clarke, a slightly spooky projection onto floating silks by Emily Hurley, dense black and white photographs of Cairo by Ilan Wittenberg, and constructions of wood and paint by Brendan Moran.

Brendan’s “Ambient Plasticity” contain several small structures that scaffold painted surfaces, in some cases seeming to clamber around them as if the idea of painting were being examined. While these appealed to the intellectual, a determinedly pink work with a beautifully scalloped surface insisted in being viewed with a more physical appetite.

Opening in June are exhibitions by local artist Deborah Crowe who studies the urban with layered photographic and video imaging, the electric tupuna of Lissy & Rudi Robinson-Cole, ceramics from Devyani Sethi, photography from Nga Rangatahi Toa in response to lockdown on the East Coast, and mixed media work with a smile from Rachel Kiddie McClure.

Whether needing a space to exhibit, to study, to make work, or make a presentation or meeting, Studio One Toi Tu provides a central place for our creative community. And some days, chatting with the staff at reception will get you a biscuit. (EVAN WOODRUFFE/STUDIO ART SUPPLIES)


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