WORDS Joshua Brosnahan PHOTOS Supplied

The birth of the Christchurch Art Show in 2014 provided artists with space to exhibit, after losing so many precious gallery spaces due to the quakes. Creative Director Kate Morrison, along with her daughter Hannah started the show, now in its sixth year, from humble beginnings to its place as the largest art show in the South Island.

“We worked very hard to put the show together, from our garage, of all places. We wanted something that enabled artists here in the South Island to be able to showcase their talent.”

Kate currently acts as the first contact between artists and their show, as well as taking care of a large amount of the management and show direction – right down to working with the floor staff during the show hours.

“We have wonderful people working with us during the exhibits, and we enjoy the interaction between artists, staff and visitors. There are over 150 artists or more; some exhibit solo, and some are exhibiting in groups. We have a vast variety of different types of work and styles, so the show really is a visual extravaganza.”

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A point of difference for the Christchurch Art Show is that all the artwork is available for purchase.

“Often we find that people new to the show don’t realise that we are a ‘cash and carry’.

“If you have a yearning for a particular artwork, you can’t wait to see if it’s still there later on in the week. Most likely someone else will buy it if you hesitate!”

Kate says you can directly talk to the artist, and ask staff to collect, carry and wrap the work for you – all for no additional cost. As the works sell, more work is hung by the artists, so the show is always refreshing itself.

This year sees the show with more art on site than ever, with thousands of available works to be displayed.

“We have found the show has grown immensely in the last few years. We have many artists applying to exhibit and more artists are physically at the show being able to engage with visitors and talk about their work to them.”

The show also has the Top Ten Lawson’s Dry Hills People’s Choice Award, where the top-selling artists from last year’s show create a signature work.

“These are revealed on opening night and are open to the public vote. This has become very popular and is always eagerly anticipated.”

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In recent years, Kate, and her husband John have expanded further down south with their Dunedin show in its third year.

“Dunedin already has a strong fine arts vibe, but our show makes art readily available to people who may not be so used to galleries. People then get a taste and want more – then [start] visiting galleries and other arts venues. It’s a circle of art appreciation.

“We find that our Dunedin Show also attracts artists from the deep south, West Coast and Central Otago. It has a different vibe from Christchurch and is also a fabulous show to visit.”

Asked where she thought the Christchurch art scene was headed next, Kate thoughtfully added that ‘growth was the next frontier’.

“There’s so much happening now that the business hub is back in the city – such as new gallery spaces, street and public art as well as theatre. This is so satisfying to see here again. It’s a very diverse scene in Christchurch and it’s nice to be a part of that.”