ARTisSpectrum | Volume 29 | artisspectrum.com
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Marlborough Sounds, New Zealand
by Rick Edmonds
The Nelson / Marlborough region occupies the northern area of New Zealand’s South Island. With a reasonably small popula-
tion (approximately 120,000 people), it boasts a thriving and vibrant art community, helped by a combination of artistic heri-
tage, spectacular natural scenery, laid-back lifestyle and pleasant climate.
The natural beauty of the area has long attracted artists. With three national parks, many golden coastal beaches, and beauti-
full mountains with bush and rivers abounding, the light, form, and color of the area have long inspired creative endeavor. The
creative people work in a variety of different disciplines and media; the region includes a rich abundance of painters, potters,
sculptors, writers, musicians and actors who have chosen to make this piece of paradise their home.
The indigenous heritage is strong in the area, and some notable Maori artists are combining their heritage with a desire to
communicate to the world their own particular vision and understanding of their environment.
My own particular back yard is the Marlborough Sounds; 1,700 kilometers of sheltered waterways that in one small province
comprises over 10% of New Zealand’s total coastline. Fingers of land intertwine with fingers of sea, so that one is never sure
which is invading the other. The water is deep, and the bush falls right to the coastal edge. For a marine artist such as myself,
the inspiration is endless. Growing up in such a place, the compulsion to be an artist was inexplicably linked with the desire to
interpret this outstanding natural environment.
The arts community also benefits from many galleries and studios dotted around the region. The Suter Art Gallery in Nelson
is New Zealand’s oldest purpose built art gallery. It houses a collection of significant New Zealand art, and hosts exhibitions
showcasing many notable local and national artists.
Nelson art educators are recognized as being among the best in the country, and many talented young creative people are
being encouraged to find their artistic voice in this nurturing, stimulating, and inspiring environment.
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