The former Gore Fire Station backpackers in Hokonui Dr has a new lease of life – it is housing a new art gallery.
Photographer Colin Dewe is hosting the opening of his first exhibition tomorrow night. The event is open to invited guests.
Dewe, who was brought up in Waimate but lived in Auckland and latterly in Oamaru, started his career in photography when he was a teenager.
He worked for a photographer in Waimate after school, starting when he was 14.
He worked in that business for a year when he left school, before starting a business up in competition.
When Dewe was 18, he realised he might have talent when he was highly commended in a Unesco photographic competition in Germany.
“It made me realise I see the world a little bit differently,” Dewe said.
The initial training he received in Waimate had stood him in good stead throughout his photographic career, he said.
He composed the whole picture through the lens, so it came from camera to being a mounted photo without significant cropping, he said.
Dewe had worked in several artistic fields, from the pre-press industry working on newspaper advertising, to owning a print shop and a graphic design business.
He owned and restored a hotel in Oamaru, as well as running a nightclub,
He said he could turn his hand to anything.
“My mindset is if you put your mind to it, you can do it.”
Coming to Gore provided an opportunity to make a lifelong dream come true.
“All my life I wanted to have my own gallery space.”
When Dewe was looking to move from Oamaru to set up a gallery, he investigated centres from Whangarei to Invercargill.
He had compiled a list of must-haves for the place he would move to, he said.
At the top of the list was that he needed a place where he would not be able to become a hermit, which he had a tendency to, he said.
Good health services were another consideration.
Population size and a good retail centre were also important, he said.
He disregarded about 90% of the centres before settling on Gore.
After looking at the Ralph Hotere collection at the Eastern Southland Gallery when he visited Gore, Dewe spotted the former backpackers across the road and decided to investigate the site further.
That resulted in the signing of a lease for the large space.
As well as hosting exhibitions of his works, Dewe was keen to display other artists’ works in subsequent exhibitions.
“It’s a way of giving back to the community.”