Inspiring. . . Waimumu Art exhibition president Debbie Smith is also an artist and enjoys seeing other’s creations. PHOTO: FIONA ELLIS

Over a decade ago, an artist looking for a place to exhibit decided to take matters into her own hands.

Now she oversees an event that attracts artists from around the country.

The annual Waimumu Art Exhibition opened in the Waimumu Te Tipua Hall on Friday, and closed yesterday at 4pm.

Exhibition president Debbie Smith said she was inspired to create the event after joining an art class at the Southern Institute of Technology’s Gore campus.

“We just wanted a place where artists could put their work, so that’s how we started, and over the years we’ve evolved,” Mrs Smith said.

The first year had a garage sale format, she said.

“This is our 11th year. It’s grown a lot.”

Many people attend this year’s exhibition.

“Usually we have about eight to nine hundred people through but … I think we’ll be well and truly over that number.”

These were not only people who lived nearby but also people travelling from Invercargill and Dunedin, she said.

Artists were sending work from Wellington and Christchurch, while this year’s guest artist Marie Reid-Beadle was based in Owaka.


However plenty of artists were still from around the Waimumu area.

They included pupils from Te Tipua School and Menzies College.

“It’s really cool to be able to put kids’ work out there because one day they’re going to be our exhibitors.”

She had also entered an artwork and was excited it had already sold, she said.

She still attended art class at SIT.

“I love painting.

“Being surrounded by other artists is good inspiration.

This year’s exhibition theme was “Nature’s Installation”, and visitors entered to birdsong and a sign made of sticks.

The exhibition space was also decorated with plants and Reid-Beadle’s work focused on animals.

Waimumu Arts also raised funds for charity.

“This year our main charity for our raffle proceeds is Heart Kids Southland.”

The highlight of the exhibition was seeing the response from the visitors and artists, and “seeing so many people walk out with a smile on their face”.

Gore’s Chantelle Whitmore attended the exhibition with her children on Sunday.

There was plenty to see and her children were constantly pointing things out, she said.

“It’s wonderful. We’re just in awe of the talent on display.”