After writing about the Men’s Shed in the summer UNO., I convinced my editor to let me go back to the Historic Village, as there’s just so much going on. Last time I came, my interest was piqued by the big red barn of The Incubator.

WORDS TALIA WALDEGRAVE PHOTOS TRACIE HEASMAN

Simone Ander­son gives me a guid­ed tour and explains the role of The Incu­ba­tor in Tau­ran­ga.

In 2013, a few of us artists want­ed stu­dios, to get out of our homes, and be in a space with oth­er artists, and pos­si­bly exhibit our work. There was nowhere real­ly in Tau­ran­ga for artists and musi­cians to be togeth­er.

We found this bril­liant space at the His­toric Vil­lage, and start­ed look­ing around at fill­ing the gaps cul­tur­al­ly by offer­ing adult art class­es, putting on exhi­bi­tions and events.”

The moti­va­tion behind The Incu­ba­tor for Simone was the amaz­ing respon­se to an exhi­bi­tion she had with two oth­er artists in 2012. “We want­ed every­one to feel part of it, even if we thought we might not sell any­thing! The audi­ence became the art, too. We called it The Mid­night Cir­cus, and every­one came in cos­tume. We had trapezists, fire eaters, all sorts! We want­ed peo­ple to feel enriched by it, to feel that what we had done was worth­while.” We realised that there were so many peo­ple out there just wait­ing for the oppor­tu­ni­ty to engage in cre­ative events.

The speed with which The Incu­ba­tor has grown has been com­plete­ly unfore­seen. The growth has been a reac­tion to the hunger. There was no com­mon denom­i­na­tor for art in our city, just lots of frac­ture. The Incu­ba­tor is a plat­form where that cre­ativ­i­ty can find a home.

We run lots of projects, sup­port­ed by a col­lec­tive made up of our res­i­dent artists, and a wider group of cre­ative peo­ple who sup­port our phi­los­o­phy who vol­un­teer a wide range of skills; graph­ic design­ers, writ­ers, crafts­peo­ple, and they all col­lab­o­rate on our projects.”

Tanya Trass and Nick Eggle­ston

A GRIM TALE

To explain the kinds of projects they under­take, Simone hands me a copy of Grim Tales. This beau­ti­ful book was a col­lab­o­ra­tion with Tau­ran­ga Women’s Refuge, bring­ing togeth­er sur­vivors of phys­i­cal abuse, writ­ers and artists. Cre­at­ing such beau­ty from a taboo sub­ject is an inno­v­a­tive way to tell a sto­ry, and high­lights the cre­ative think­ing of The Incu­ba­tor team (get a copy at grimtales.co.nz).

Oth­er col­lab­o­ra­tions around the city have The Incu­ba­tor stamped all over them. One exam­ple is the cre­ation of the colour­ful pianos, which fea­tured in our ‘Peter Williams’ issue last year. “We were asked to paint one piano, said we’d do three, and end­ed up doing eleven.”

The exhi­bi­tion space has just been ren­o­vat­ed and as Simone explains, it’s for emerg­ing artists look­ing to show­case their work. “It is incred­i­bly dif­fi­cult to get your work into a gallery, so we want­ed to provide some­thing that solved the prob­lem.”

One of The Incu­ba­tor exhi­bi­tion spaces

Behind the exhi­bi­tion space are the stu­dios of the res­i­dent artists. Wan­der­ing between them is like being in an under­ground cave and each one is com­plete­ly unique; paint­brush­es, tools and inspi­ra­tional mus­ings are crammed in like organ­ised clut­ter.

THE ARTERY

Simone leads me into the Artery, the recent­ly acquired build­ing next door that they use for art class­es.

When the gov­ern­ment axed night class­es in schools, peo­ple no longer had any­where to go. We saw a huge gap and an oppor­tu­ni­ty to fill it. The­se are bite sized, achiev­able class­es, often run by our res­i­dent artists and they con­nect peo­ple in a social as well as a cre­ative way. It takes peo­ple out of iso­la­tion. Most peo­ple walk away with con­nec­tions, hav­ing made new friends.”

The class­es range from one day to six weeks, and cov­er print­ing, paint­ing, ceram­ics and more. Class­es are always chang­ing and infor­ma­tion is kept up to date on The Incu­ba­tor web­site.

TIME TO VISIT

The Vil­lage comes alive every sec­ond Sun­day, when we wheel out our stage and local musi­cians per­form. It astounds me that aside from the bar and pub scene, there’s nowhere for musi­cians to meet. This is anoth­er way for us to provide a cre­ative oppor­tu­ni­ty.”

Once again, I walk away feel­ing inspired, and it’s won­der­ful to see this envi­ron­ment that Simone’s team have cre­at­ed for artists to col­lab­o­rate.

It’s not just about The Incu­ba­tor as a place, it’s what we want to achieve. We want every­body to up the val­ue of arts with­in the com­mu­ni­ty. Art is not about retail or income, it’s about a way of life.”

 

See what is hap­pen­ing at: 

THEINCUBATOR.CO.NZ

March 2017

Cal­lum Gen­tle­man Blues/Folk Noir

Para­dox Street Art Fes­ti­val

June 2017

Win­ter Lights Fes­ti­val

Octo­ber 2017

Arts Fes­ti­val

Sculp­ture Sym­po­sium