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.”
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.”
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.
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.”
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