Roger King and Liffy Roberts live across the road from the sea at Te Awanga. Their place is laid back, pared back, classic and contemporary, a scattering of humble boxes traipsing over a pin-neat lawn. More than anything it’s homey … a crude label with its connotations of down-home comfy-ness but still apt, as both inside and out there’s plenty of places to sit, moments to reflect, spaces to breathe into.
King and Roberts are extending their welcome mat in March, turning their home into a gallery space, as they invite the public to The Art Pop Up, a showing of work by New Zealand potters, jewellers, sculptors and painters.
In all ways Pop Up is a very personal show.
“All the work is coming from people we either know really well, or own work by, or they’re friends of our kids. So we’re very familiar with the work,” explains King.
Potters Helen Leggett, John Parker, Ross Mitchell-Anyon and Richard Parker. Jewellers Warwick Freeman and Peter Deckers. Painters Wellesley Binding, Fane Flaws and Reuben Patterson. And sculptors Louise Purvis and Jo Blogg. All are contributing to the show, which runs from 22 to 24 March.
Lifting art out of the white cube of a traditional gallery, putting it instead into a domestic setting, throws up both risks and opportunities. Many makers feel their pieces show better under gallery lights, away from the detritus of domestic life. On the other side of the debate, much of the work in Pop Up is of an inherently domestic nature, and so there’s a sincerity to showing it in a bona fide home.
“The rationale behind having it at our place is that it’s in a domestic setting, people can see what the work is like in a home,” says King.
King and Roberts are no strangers to sharing their living environment with some very fine art. Their own collection is admirable, with a few pieces currently away travelling the world in various international shows.
“If this works well here, then it’d be silly to discount doing another,” says King. “It’d also be interesting to see if we could do things in other settings.”
“Outside the two public gallery spaces there isn’t much opportunity to see the work of great applied artists [craft artists]. Painters get covered by Black Barn. Paper-Works shows the best of the prints available, but jewellers and potters ordinarily wouldn’t be showing their work here in Hawke’s Bay.”
King spent ten years as a potter and then in 1988 co-founded the Taranaki Festival. King and Roberts then went on to establish the Taupo Festival in ’96 and the Tauranga Festival in ’99. In 2003 they were instrumental in moving WOMAD to Taranaki with King as festival director.
In May 2011, having bought their place at Te Awanga the previous year, they moved to Hawke’s Bay. Now King is fully involved in the arts community here as Chair of Creative Hawke’s Bay and arts advisor to a number of bodies.
King reticently marks himself with a label he used to cringe from: cultural entrepreneur. “I’ve been enormously privileged to be able to do what I’ve done because I love it. I like to think I’m someone who can make things happen, hopefully with integrity and a bit of flair.”
The Art Pop Up opens Friday, 22 March at 18 Wellwood Avenue, Te Awanga, Hawke’s Bay. Open 10-4.