There’s a new kid on the block on the north end of Hastings Street. Cathedral Photo and Art Gallery this week opened its doors to the Napier art market.
The area around Waiapu Cathedral is becoming something of a gallery district. Within a few blocks’ radius we have CAN, a true community arts space showcasing established artists, amateur and student work alike; MTG often exhibits art alongside traditional museum pieces. Boyd-Dunlop gives space to eclectic eye-catching work, while their upstairs space, Ahuriri Contemporary, features cohesive, thoughtfully curated shows.
On the corner, Tennyson Gallery is bursting at the seams with a diverse range of pieces to adorn the stylish home. Adjacent on Market Street, Morgan Made produces beautiful and functional ceramics, created on site. Opposite, the Poppelwells’ SPA_CE shows contemporary works in a clean environment with a leaning towards the abstract. Tucked away down the lane, The Rabbit Room makes the most of their tiny space with snapshot shows, while The Department of Curiosities and Fine Things straddles the gap between art and craft with a range of objects of desire as fun as they are functional.
With so much to look at, artists often congregate in the area. Now Cathedral offers them something until now missing in Napier – an outlet for exquisite and professional framing through co-owner Chris Helliwell’s main business, Edges. While this practical prospect might lure art lovers in the door, once you’re up there, there is plenty to draw the eye.
Focusing on photographs and prints, owners Helliwell and Richard Wood, both with a string of photographic awards and accolades under their belts, have engaged a range of independently acclaimed artists, both local and from around the country. Displayed over three rooms, the works cover all the bases of what people might want on their walls – landscapes and streetscapes, still lives, portraits, architectural and nature studies. All, as one would expect, beautifully presented.
The most exciting and innovative, to my eye, is the work of co-owner Richard Wood, previously on display in his own show at the adjacent Boyd-Dunlop Gallery. His strange and enticing portraits depict fantasy characters, painstakingly styled with props and imagery of his own making. Their colour palette gives them an almost renaissance feel, looking over their shoulder to the past even as they stride bravely into the future.
Although strikingly composed and visually delightful when viewed with the naked eye, these pieces have an augmented reality component. With the aid of an app, they can been seen through a screen to move, pulse and flow, marrying art with technology to elegant effect.
The space makes the most of its excellent architectural bones, the art deco features on show without taking away from the work. Mindful lighting and soothing greenery complete the experience.