In the heart of New Zealand’s creative capital lies Vincents Art Workshop – the not so hidden gem on Willis Street, at the end of a busy cul de sac. If you’re after a place to make art in a creative and supportive environment, then look no further. I visited Vincents for the first time on their women’s only day one recent Thursday. My time there was inspiring.
Upon taking my first anxious steps towards Vincents, I didn’t know what to expect. Was this the kind of place where they haze the newbie? Would I feel comfortable making art? And, more importantly, what would I even make? Before I could dwell on these thoughts, I was immediately greeted by Vincents art host and tutor Anna as soon as I walked through the door.
She asked me how I was going and if I had ever visited the workshop before; her kindness and genuine interest was felt immediately. I explained that I was doing a story on the creative space and what it’s like to visit for the first time. Anna then took me on a welcome tour of the workshop.
It was here I began to realise the magnitude of quality resources and facilities this place offers. You need a place to make pottery? They have a dedicated studio for sculpting clay equipped with its own kiln. You need a place to carve wooden sculptures? They have a wood workshop full of essential power tools and equipment required to make nearly any DIY creation. Or if you’re like me and all you need is an open space area with a big desk to draw on, Vincents has got you covered.
Not only that, I learned that the studio space and all the readily available resources are free of charge, and that Vincents runs tutored classes every Tuesday. These are free also although koha is always welcomed.
Due to the workshop’s prime location they receive a lot of foot traffic. Throughout the day, all sorts of people came through the door, ranging from international travelers to curious streetwalkers and the regular group of visitors. The charm to Vincents is not so much in the facilities they provide but in the tremendous sense of community and positivity evoked by the people who create art and work there.
For instance, a woman in her late sixties came into Vincents for the first time in nearly a decade. Daisy, another host and art tutor, welcomed her with the same level of warmth and interest as the welcome I had received earlier in the day. The tutor offered her books to study from and drawing material to use. By the time she left the workshop she had nearly finished an A3 sized flower mural.
There is a painting that sits at the heart of the workshop, which reads:
Vincents is about art making: It is a place where people come to express their creativity.
These words best summarise my personal experience at Vincents, and it remains an accurate reminder of how this creative space will continue to encourage all people to create and express themselves through art.
Established in 1985, Vincents Art Workshop is the oldest creative space in New Zealand. It is a community-based initiative providing access to arts and craft facilities, skilled tuition and materials within a supportive environment. All people are welcome. For more information visit its website.