skip to Main Content

Nelson art trail offers plenty to peruse

Nelson is rich with sculptures and public art. Photo: Supplied

Nelson is an arty place, home to a huge array of artists and artisans; a region with a landscape that has inspired many more.
One of the country’s foremost painters, Sir Toss Woollaston, spent most of his life in and around Nelson and in 1934 built his first home studio (from bricks made of local clay) on an orchard in nearby Mapua. Many of his earthy paintings reflect the landscape of the Nelson-Tasman region.

Kiln near Riwaka by Toss Woollaston is part of a public art walk in Nelson. Photo: Tim Cuff

Artist Jane Evans, who died in 2012, was born in Nelson and spent her last years working from her home studio in a restored sea captain’s cottage overlooking the port. The lovely Suter Art Gallery on Bridge St holds more of her works than any other public collection and honours her in its Jane Evans Foyer.
The Suter is the perfect start to a Nelson art trail. It’s not dauntingly large but its galleries provide a nice introduction to the work of local artists and artisans. When we visited, one show featured stunning pieces by jeweller Gavin Hitchings, a local pioneer of the art form along with internationally acclaimed Jens Hansen, the man who created the “One ring to bind them all” for the Lord of the Rings films (you can visit his city studio on your art trail).

Internationally acclaimed jeweller Jens Hansen is famous for the “one ring” from Lord Of The Rings. Photo: Supplied

Another exhibition had works by famous artists who were drawn to paint the people and landscapes of the Nelson-Tasman region — art world icons like Colin McCahon, Rita Angus, Olivia Spencer Bower, Doris Lusk, Leo Bensemann and others.
Nelson has long been a magnet for those working in the arts; people drawn to its climate and like-minded communities and even, in the case of potters for example, by the raw materials found hereabouts.
The gallery’s big, bright Suter Store is a one-stop-shop for locally made jewellery, ceramics, fabric arts, homewares, woodcrafts, books and gallery merchandise. Buy here or visit the featured artists’ studios and galleries in and around Nelson.

As it happened, the Suter had just launched the Nelson City Centre ArtWalk, an ‘outdoor gallery’ of outsized works by some of Nelson’s most celebrated artists displayed at 20 sites around the city. They’re hard to miss and, like the many permanent pieces of public art around the place, leave you in no doubt about Nelson’s cultural cred.

William Allen’s Nelson Landscape is part of a public art walk in Nelson. Photo: Tim Cuff

There are impressive sculptures, murals and street art scattered around the town, a good number of them along Wakefield Quay, including Tim Wright’s The Navigator, a carved totara globe atop a wooden pillar, and Grant Palliser’s Seafarer, a memorial to “lost seafaring men who led a life at the whim of the sea”.
Christopher Finlayson’s huge 1984 mural Aotearoa is unmissable — and not to be missed on any walk of art.
Studios and galleries: there are too many to mention here. We stopped at the Nelson iSite (corner of Nelson and Halifax Streets) and grabbed a handful of brochures that led us to places like flamedaisy, a glass-blowing studio and gallery on Victoria St West full of Anthony Genet’s light-filled creations and neon sculptures; the Parker Gallery on Achilles Ave; Craig Potton’s photo gallery on Hardy St; and Red Art Gallery on Bridge St, which has the added advantage of serving good coffee and delicious bagels.

Nelson is rich with sculptures and public art. Photo: Supplied

If, like me, you consider rare automobiles to be an art form, you shouldn’t miss the 150 immaculate models covering a century of auto design at Nelson Classic Car Museum (1 Cadillac Way). From the little 1908 Renault to the magnificent Cord Roadster, timeless Jaguars and Cadillacs, Ferraris and more, it’s a real feast for lovers of beautiful cars.
Our various brochures led us out of the city through Richmond to Appleby and Höglund Art Glass, a glass-blowing and studio gallery in Landsdowne Rd, where Swedish-born Ola Höglund and Marie Simberg-Höglund make glorious glass works that are shown and collected all over the world.

The Nelson Classic Car museum is art of a different kind. Photo: Supplied

En route to Motueka, we detoured to Mapua, worth a visit for its wharf-side cafés and its collection of galleries housed in an old apple cool store. Our favourite: Forest Fusion, stainless-steel sculptures made to order by Russell Papworth, and jewellery and ceramics.
Motueka, meanwhile, has more than its fair share of public artworks, murals, carvings and artfully rendered “seats and bins”, along with many galleries and studios, including John Wolter’s Wood Pigeon Art Studio, where John makes small metal figurines that dance, fly and generally disport themselves, large garden art and paintings.
Time — and a beckoning Beach Bach at Mārahau — prevented us from seeing more of the region’s arts and crafts, but next time we’ll check out the many potters’ studios in places like Richmond, Brightwater and Moutere.
Until then we have a lovely Jane Evans print and an elegant little “Limpet” bowl by potter Royce McGlashen to remind us of our Nelson art trail weekend.


Source: NZHerald, By: Patrick Smith,


Click here to find out more…

This Post Has 0 Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back To Top