Bringing the Arts home

20 February 2014
Written by Sacha Kenny | Images by Sacha Kenny
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Realising a dream of owning her own creative space, Kate Hartmann has transformed the front of her Kapiti Coast home into a gallery showcasing local artists


If a shaft of light shone from the heavens directly over Kate Hartmann's home she could not have picked a better location for her fabulous gallery. A hop, skip and jump away from two of Waikanae Beach's most popular eating spots, The Front Room and Long Beach café; across the road from a great family playground and over the sand dunes from the beach, 'At the Bach' is a funky Waikanae Beach gallery featuring Kate’s work as an abstract painter as well as an eclectic mix of pieces by emerging local artists.

Quite literally the front room of her home, yet discreetly separate from the rest of the house, 'At the Bach' has a welcoming relaxed, holiday-home appeal. The front gates open onto a deck, drawing you into the light-filled gallery where the works of artists such as Kaye Bustin, Mel Armstrong, Di Connal, Helen Forrest, Fiona Story and more fill the space.

Kate, an Australian, had been living in the wine-growing region of the Barossa Valley, South Australia with her Kiwi wine-maker husband and three young children when the family decided to return to New Zealand (2011) in search of a change of lifestyle. With their sights set on the Kapiti Coast, the move was made easier when the 1920s bach they now call home came on the market and there was no turning back.

The property's potential was immediate despite having been neglected: “It hadn’t had anyone live in it for years, it was damp and rundown but I could see the potential. I could see the front room as a gallery from the moment we first saw the house.

“The house actually has a really amazing history – it was built in 1927 and was a tea rooms in the 1950s when this area was a popular holiday destination, then a lady called Mrs Webb had it as a shop for a long time. I know this because the old locals come in with stories about how they would buy ice-creams from Mrs Webb, then it became a  holiday bach for a number years - so it’s come a full circle back to opening up to the public and being part of the community again which is really great.”

Going from strength to strength, the gallery now features over 18 local emerging artists and is a key feature in the annual Kapiti Arts Trail. For Kate, who has a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Tasmania's Art School in Launceston, showcasing talented yet unknown local artists is an integral part of her vision for the gallery.

“It’s so hard as an artist to get recognition, so the works we display are by people who don’t necessarily have their work stocked in outlets all over the place but who absolutely deserve an opportunity for their work to be seen, which is something I would have loved when I was starting out."

Excited about the future, Kate sees the gallery becoming a destination point. Kate envisions it incorporating creative mentoring, classes and workshops as well as introducing locally grown and produced specialty foods, thus forming part of a story where visitors and artists alike become involved in the narrative of the community.

“It’s about making that connection, telling a story and allowing people to connect with the area and the artists as well as the amazing process of creating great art and food.”

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At the Bach:
Open Saturday and Sundays 10am - 4pm
48 Tutere Street
Waikanae Beach 5036

Current exhibiting artists:

Kate Hartmann: painting
Kaye Bustin: ceramics and textiles
Diane Connal: jewellery
Rebecca Neal: ceramics
Angela Gane: photography
Mel Armstrong: typography works on recycled wood
Janine Moody: drawing & oamaru stone carving
Jo Hammond: hand blown glass beads
John Cornish: drawings, ceramics, painting
Alan Baddiley: paintings
Carl Lea: photography
Fledgling NZ: jwellery
Tania Naude: jewellery
Kathy Ray: textiles 
Fiona Story: paper works
Dianne Register-Stout: ceramics
John Heaven: wood works in reclaimed timbers
Helen Forrest: decoupage and furniture upcycling
Frou Frou: clothing



+1 #1 Lorraine Barns 2014-02-22 21:22
A well set up Art Gallery a pleasure to have seen!
A must to see?
Kate is so warm,and a real pleasure to meet
The art work from all is very good.
I wish you all a great success and happy days.

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