Celebrating Aratoi’s arts centre origins
Forty-eight years ago today, on October 11, 1969, the Wairarapa Arts Centre opened its doors.
Aratoi will celebrate the centre’s beginnings by giving a homemade cupcake to the first 48 people who come into the museum today.
There is certainly a lot to celebrate. It is no small feat for a town and region of our size to have a museum of this stature. It has a large number of Ma¯ori taonga and other priceless items in the collection, national and international shows on display, an architectural award-winning building, and museum-standard galleries.
Dame Robin White, New Zealand’s only artist-dame and Aratoi’s honorary patron, said ‘‘Aratoi is our taonga.’’
Our taonga. Everyone’s. Masterton’s, Wairarapa’s, New Zealand’s, and even the world’s – a fair number of the museum’s visitors are international travellers.
The location of the Wairarapa plays an important part of the museum’s identity.
Leading artist, author, and curator Gregory O’Brien sees Aratoi as ‘‘a great gallery in a great soulful part of New Zealand’’ while Mark Amery, a leading arts writer who will be selecting the 2017 Wairarapa Arts Review, has written that, ‘‘you won’t see shows this diverse and peoplesized at Te Papa or Auckland Art Gallery’’.
A town can enable this soulfulness to come forward: we know each other’s faces and smiles.
Over the years, Aratoi has mounted many displays about our social history and has proudly exhibited the work of well over 100 Wairarapa-based artists and artisans. In truth, Aratoi’s birthday extends back to 1963, when Wairarapa citizens purchased a Barbara Hepworth sculpture ‘ Galliard – Forms in Movement‘ as a way to say, ‘We want a museum here’.
Paris-born painter He´le`ne Carroll chose to move to the Wairarapa, saying, ‘‘I knew I could live here because it has a museum - that was nine years ago. I knew I made the right decision’’.
Article supplied by Aratoi.