Time well spent in the wonderful world of visual and performing arts

Judith Ritchie, right, leaves her role as the Nelson Mail arts reporter in the capable hands of Sara Meij
MARTIN DE RUYTER/Stuff

Judith Ritchie, right, leaves her role as the Nelson Mail arts reporter in the capable hands of Sara Meij

Arts reporter Judith Ritchie reflects on her time at the Nelson Mail as she departs to take on new adventures.

It's been an amazing journey as arts reporter here at the Nelson Mail. I have worked with the best team of colleagues and mentors in the newsroom.

Out in the region I have had the privilege of meeting a myriad of creatives, from emerging artists to international celebrities. Each has shared a side of themselves, their passions and challenges, wins and future endeavours. In turn my aim has always been to share their stories with you, to engage and inform.

Hardy Bachert stands in his burnt out lounge where he exhibited photographs of the derelict city of Detroit in America.
ALDEN WILLIAMS/Stuff

Hardy Bachert stands in his burnt out lounge where he exhibited photographs of the derelict city of Detroit in America.

As I depart, I know the arts community will be in very capable hands with my colleague Sara Meij. She'll continue to deliver great stories each Friday in the Nelson Mail in the new Culture section, as well as the community Leaders and online.

Meeting artists, whether visual or performing, has confirmed they are a tenacious breed of people who will not stop creating, who will not give up.

No matter how difficult it is to get funding, or how hard it is to find a studio, or outlets to sell work or to perform, these people stick at it.

Some stories stay in our memories longer than others, for their quirkiness and innovation.

One such story was about photographer, writer and traveller, Hardy Bachert's unusual exhibition. Hardy bought a property in Stoke that had been seriously fire damaged, when used as a dope growing operation.

He spent months cleaning the smoke-damaged, charred lounge, hallway and kitchen. Skip loads of detritus left the site. Before renovating he came up with the novel idea of using the burnt out space as a gallery to exhibit photographs taken while visiting the derelict city of Detroit in America. 

As he gave me a tour of the rooms, we ended up in the toilet cubicle, Hardy enthusiastically explaining how the smoke damage had created it's own art forms. 

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His imagination and creativeness will stay with me as someone who personifies the way artists function in the challenging world of arts. Problems become opportunities. Innovation comes from chaos and networks support the individual.

The Nelson region has strong networks across a myriad of art genres from plays, dance, musicals, fringe festivals, arts festivals, to highland dancing, choirs, opera, orchestras, youth theatre and of course art exhibitions. It's been a pleasure working with each of these groups, sharing their stories and watching the small seed of an idea grow into an impressive reality.

Life opens doors and closes them, it's just a matter of getting through that open door while you can, not hesitating, an opportunity lost.

On offer through that open door will be time to create in my own studio while working towards creating a small grass-roots arts centre on Savaii island in Samoa.

So it's farewell for now and many thanks to all the people who have allowed me to share their stories.

For arts and entertainment stories contact: sara.meij@nelsonmail.co.nz / newsdesk@nelsonmail.co.nz.

 - Stuff

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