The arts trail

The Insider's Guide to New Zealand - - NORTH ISLAND -

Margi Moore, head of Win­tec’s School of Me­dia Arts, wit­nessed a cu­ri­ous sight while walk­ing through the cen­tral city. “A young man was slap­ping the face of Cap­tain Hamil­ton (the bronze statue of the man af­ter whom the city was named). The cap­tain was a feisty soldier who led the ugly Bat­tle of Gate Pa. Was it retri­bu­tion? Margi never stopped to ask. She loves the fact that art is ac­ces­si­ble and pro­vokes emo­tion. “It’s hap­pen­ing at dif­fer­ent lev­els and with dif­fer­ent groups. There are some beau­ti­ful gal­leries, but there is also art in un­ex­pected places.”

Some of those places are in back streets, at­tics and un­der­ground spa­ces. The man with the cu­ri­ous name, Emit Snake-Be­ings, who runs the Hamil­ton Un­der­ground Film Fes­ti­val (HUFF), ar­rived in the city from Lon­don 16 years ago and now calls it home. “Hamil­ton is a state of mind,” he says. “It’s like an is­land in New Zealand. Peo­ple who stay have their own unique cul­ture.” Hamil­ton artist R G Shaw, who hangs out in a city at­tic with a “chaotic build-up of detri­tus” that in­cludes a rab­bit with a doll’s head, a horse with a mane of lamb­swool and an old pi­ano, says Hamil­ton has a strong and fiercely in­di­vid­u­al­is­tic arts com­mu­nity. “It’s like Maxwell Smart; you have to go through a few locked doors be­fore you reach the in­ner sanc­tum.” Be­hind a neigh­bour­ing door is the Cas­bah Gallery, an artist-run space fea­tur­ing ex­per­i­men­tal works de­scribed by co-di­rec­tor

Karl Bayly as “pic­tac­u­lar”. 467 Vic­to­ria Street, cas­bah­gallery.co.nz

More main­stream gal­leries in­clude Aes­thete, Soul and the beau­ti­ful In­spirit Gallery which over­looks green fields at Tama­here. But the art trail’s un­ques­tion­able start­ing point is the multi-award-win­ning Waikato Mu­seum which juts like a waka over the river. It houses gal­leries, taonga and in­ter­ac­tive spa­ces like Planet War­riors and Exscite – a buzzing, whirring, blink­ing sci­ence amuse­ment ar­cade. The next-door Art­spost, the best place to buy lo­cal art, was the city’s old post of­fice.

It’s also worth check­ing art­trails.co.nz, which pro­vides a com­pre­hen­sive and upto-date list­ing of Hamil­ton art spots. Aes­thete Gallery, Vic­to­ria and Rostrevor Streets, (07) 839 0730, aes­thete.co.nz Soul Gallery, 300 Bar­ton Street,

(07) 834 2120, soul­gallery.co.nz

In­spirit Gallery, 360 Pen­car­row Road,

(07) 856 3170, in­spirit.co.nz

Waikato Art Mu­seum, (07) 838 6606, 1 Gran­tham Street, waikato­mu­seum.co.nz

Emit Snake-Be­ings.

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