Dudley Arthouse creates opportunities in the community
1 August 2014
By Jackson Mulder
“We can hide within the walls of our creative space, or we can go out into our community and create opportunities,” says Jules Hunt, Team Leader of Dudley Arthouse in Lower Hutt – a place where disabled artists make art in a supportive, learning and creative environment.
It’s this proactive approach and strong community presence that impressed the judges when they selected Dudley Arthouse as this year’s recipient of the Arts Access Creative Space Award. “We particularly enjoyed reading about its role in the Hutt City Council’s About Space programme to use empty spaces in the city’s CBD.”
Dudley Arthouse has a close relationship with the Hutt City Council. Its About Space programme aims to revitalise Lower Hutt’s CBD and use empty buildings by installing art exhibitions in them. From its inception in 2013, four of the 17 featured projects have featured the work of Dudley Arthouse artists.
Dudley Arthouse also hosted the opening of the programme with an exhibition called The Magic Forest. This included a collection of art pieces covered in fluorescent paint and illuminated by UV lights.
Magic Forest exhibition
Dudley Arthouse ran this exhibition for two months, engaging with individuals, the community and school groups. More than 1600 people visited the exhibition over that time.
As part of The Magic Forest installation, Dudley Arthouse artists collaborated with other vocational services in the Hutt Valley and invited students at Hutt Central School to add to the installation by creating glow-in-the-dark creatures for the display. The Naenae Computer Clubhouse also used The Magic Forest as a set for its superhero movie, made by a group of young filmmakers.
Dudley Arthouse, operated by IDEA Services, also enjoys a mutually beneficial relationship with The Learning Connexion, a tertiary arts and creativity institution in Taita. Learning Connexion students collaborate on projects such as the Sculpture Bomb in Civic Park and also mentor Dudley Arthouse artists.
And thanks to a $2500 Making A Difference scholarship, Dudley Arthouse artist Gail Rattenbury is attending The Learning Connexion’s Inclusion Class and working towards a Level 4 Certificate in Art and Creativity.
Jules Hunt recalls when she started working at Dudley Arthouse in 2012. The artists dabbled in little more than felt-tip and paint. Now, art created by its artists spans a wide range of mediums and styles – most recently, puppetry and stop-motion animation.
“When I started here, there was no information about us anywhere. These, days, we’re well-known in Lower Hutt, we’re online and there are often articles in the media about our artists and their achievements.”
Focusing on abilities
Jules says her biggest challenge was to “flip things on their head” and focus on the abilities of Dudley Arthouse’s artists.
“I’m also fortunate to work with wonderful staff who encourage our artists to develop their abilities and provide opportunities for them to showcase their talents.”
With its focus on people, Dudley Arthouse is constantly providing its artists with skills to encourage independence: for example, enabling them to hold solo exhibitions or undertaking community roles that require leadership or self-motivation.
“One our artists, Tony, was very reliant on guidance from other people when he started here. He developed as an artist, gained confidence and taught painting to four students in learning support classes at Hutt Valley High School. Now, he volunteers at the Anchorage Café in Lower Hutt.”
Jules believes that Dudley Arthouse is a force for positive change in the Hutt Valley.