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Waimakariri Artists in lockdown. Part 4: Paul Smith

Paul Smith was looking forward to the Kaiapoi Art Expo and had completed one of his vivid expressionist paintings a few weeks before the Covid-19 crisis but wasn’t sure it was what he was after.

The Kaiapoi based artist says, “I prepared another canvas and had it ready, a blank canvas, waiting for inspiration, when the announcement came that the Expo was cancelled for this year.”

But Paul’s time during lockdown has instead been taken up with a sick dog.

His 11 year old husky, Freeze, had a mystery cancer which eventually vanished after a worrying and expensive time paying for vet bills. He is very happy Freeze is well again and now has time to get back to producing some art.

“Although there’s really no point, as no-one’s buying at the moment,” he says.

Paul sells his colourful abstract paintings through ArtBox in Papanui, the Oxford  and Culverden Galleries and through exhibitions. He has recently discovered Arts Bureau which leases art to corporate businesses on a three monthly loan period.

“At least it gets my work out in the public eye,” he says.

But times haven’t been good for artists in the last year or two and finding buyers is hard work.

The Christchurch Art Show doesn’t appeal to Paul as he thinks the cost of exhibiting is too steep.

“It’s a rip off really, they charge too much for artists to exhibit and it’s just a money making venture, not for the artists’ benefit.”

He is hoping that the galleries will soon re open and his work will once again catch the eye of the discerning buyer and art lover.

Another group of artists has found the timing of the lockdown coincide with their 30 Day Challenge. Rangiora Art Society has run the challenge for the last four years in which members create an artwork every day for the month of May and share their work on the group’s Facebook page.

Margaret Stephenson, the RAS president, says participants are asked to sketch something new each day to help increase skill level and have a bit of fun.

For those without an internet connection, and many of the elderly members are in this situation, a friendly call from Margaret keeps them in touch and has provided a valuable connection for members through this lockdown.

Artist and member of the group, Tracey Parker, agrees that artwork has kept many people going throughout this time of isolation.

“Artists can spend hours lost in painting so that time passes without thought of loneliness or ill health.

“And the connection remains strong amongst us,” she says. “There’s always someone to talk with or share projects with.”

The annual Society exhibition in September has been cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic leaving members without their usual way of showing their work to the public, yet another art opportunity that will be out of public reach this year.

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