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New art-focused festival breathes creative life into Eden Park

Jun 28, 2021

Originally published by Mina Kerr-Lazenby, Stuff.

Art In The Park is a three-day event, made in collaboration with the wider Elemental Festival, that invites one hundred artists to showcase their artworks from within the stadium and fill the hallowed grounds with paintings, sculptures, prints and photography.

Demonstrating Eden Park’s capability as a “versatile and inclusive venue”, Eden Park’s chief executive officer Nick Sautner says the event signals an important shift for the stadium as a “truly multipurpose arena.”

“A strategic focus over the past five years has been to maximise the utilisation of Eden Park’s idle capacity,” he said, touching on the monumental shifts the stadium has seen within the past year.

More akin to a gallery than most would imagine, Sautner describes Eden Park as being “a blank canvas” that has “limitless opportunities for creativity and engagement.”

Auckland-based artist Ann Ciciani, who will be showcasing her playful contemporary works at the event, credits Art In The Park for making art more approachable to the wider community.

Housing such works within Eden Park rather than the often-intimidating confines of a lofty gallery, she says, means people from all walks of life are far more likely to attend.

“The event being at Eden Park makes it far more approachable, and art should be open to every type of audience,” she says.

“It should engage with everyone from every level.”

It is hoped Art In The Park will be “approachable” for the wider community. Over the weekend, which kick-starts from July 23, guests will be able to mingle with the individual artists themselves, hear them discuss their works and see them create in real time.

The event champions works new and old by putting a range of both established and emerging creatives on the bill, including a selection of students from the prestigious Elam School of Fine Arts.

Artist Amy Hoedemakers, from the Canterbury town of Oxford, said Art In The Park serves as a great opportunity to have her works seen by a larger audience.

“I’m really excited about the event, it’s an amazing opportunity. This is on such a larger scale than what I am used to, and so the exposure will be huge.”

Unfortunately Hoedemakers won’t be able to make the event, but she will be there in spirit via her works: between four and six of them that, she says, guests will be able to purchase and take home if they wish.

The same goes for all the artwork featured, if guests find themselves particularly taken by a sculpture or a painting they are welcome to make it their own.For long-established landscape artist Wayne Vickers, the event provides an opportunity to learn from other artists – “there are some really great names here” – in addition to teaching the budding young creatives who will be present.

Vickers will be delivering a talk that touches upon his creative processes and inspirations for the works on show, which have been “several months” in the making.

“I enjoy helping budding artists wherever I can.”

Sautner’s aim is to ensure there is inspiration aplenty for these budding artists and young creatives, even those who may not have yet held their first sketching pencil or paintbrush.

It’s the reason behind him ensuring there is free admission for children, alongside a specially curated kids corner where they can create freely.

“An event like this is great for children,” adds Ciciani.

“It opens their minds and inspires them and teaches them that, really, art can be for everybody.”