Saturday, 06 June 2020


Art Escape a richer, more fulfilling experience

This year marked a significant change in the creative direction of the Mercury Bay Art Escape. A much expanded format resulted in greater public engagement and a richer, more fulfilling experience for visitors and locals alike.

Art Escape chairman and Kuaotunu photographer, Ian Preece, said, “We are thrilled with the results of the collective efforts of the Mercury Bay Art Escape Trust, the Art Escape member artists and the community. Feedback from the public has been overwelmingly positive and we have seen an increase in Open Studio visits not only during the two Open Studio weekends in early March, but across the week between the weekends.”

The two Open Studios weekends (the first two weekends in March) remain the anchoring event of the Art Escape and artists were generous with their time and energy sharing their art, skills and experiences.

In addition to the Open Studios weekends, MBAE events in the first week of March included the Tuia 250 Street Art Festival in Whitianga, the Chasing Mercury Art Workshops and an interactive sculpture by artist, Chris Charteris, which attracted a wide range of visitors and participants. The events engaged a wide range of the community, especially younger members - the future generation of artists and art lovers. The artists who participated in the Open Studios have also seen an increase in the number of midweek studio appointments.

Jane Parson, the Mercury Bay Art Escape trustee who organised the Tuia 250 Street Art Festival, said the response from people watching the murals unfold was overwhelmingly positive. “The onlookers, whether they be residents or visitors, created an excited and thankful vibe for the artists who have so generously donated their time and skill to bring the Tuia 250 Street Art Festival to Whitianga.”

The guest speaker at 2019’s gala opening of the Open Studios and the Art Escape’s Showcase Exhibition was renowned artist, Fatu Feu’u. Fatu kept the audience captivated with his efforts to reduce youth suicides and there was delight at the surprise auction of one of his artworks.

The Showcase Exhibition at Hot Waves Café in Hot Water Beach features new work from all 46 Art Escape member artists. The exhibition will continue until the end of Easter. The public are invited to visit the exhibition and vote in the “People’s Choice Award.”

Sponsors saw real value in this year’s Art Escape. “You have organised a fabulous event… we would love to be involved in the continued development of this annual event,” says Sara Stanley of New World Whitianga.

If you missed the Open Studios weekends or want to visit some of the artists again, all Mercury Bay Art Escape artists and art groups can be visited throughout the year by appointment. A guide with information about the artists’ studios is available from art galleries, cafes and the Whitianga i-SITE or online at

Pictured: Whitianga artist Margherita Giampietri during one of the Chasing Mercury Art Workshops that was held in the first week of March.


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