From meathooks to masterpieces – an old Oamaru butchery, which lay derelict for 30 years, has been revitalised into a studio art gallery.
Its owners, Kit Macgregor and Alison Bevers, have paid homage to the Tees St building’s previous life in its name – The Butcher’s Hook.
Eight years ago, Mr Macgregor lived in the flat upstairs, and said it had crossed his mind that the abandoned space beneath him could be useful.
Two years ago, the opportunity came up for the pair to buy the 1862 building, and they moved in to the flat upstairs and set to work transforming the shop area.
“It was completely boarded up, there were no windows,” Mr Macgregor said.
“The area out the back hadn’t been touched since it was still a butchery – there were rusty hooks and a bloodstained apron hanging up, it was really grim.
“The whole area was really dark, the working area of the butchery had a false ceiling which kept all the light out, so we had to get rid of that and put windows in.”
The area out the back has been transformed into a gallery, while the old shop front has become a studio which is visible from the street.
They said owning their own space was “brilliant”, and its original design for a butchery had some advantages – the drains designed for washing out the blood and offal from carcasses could be employed in case of a paint spill.
Mr Macgregor said the council expressed displeasure when they painted the exterior of the building.
“Though I’m sure it looks better than when it was a boarded up, derelict old building.”
Ms Bevers moved to Oamaru from Yorkshire, England in 2005.
She described her artistic style as “mixed media, with slight relief”.
“I use a lot of mosaic and driftwood.”
Mr Macgregor, who moved to Oamaru from Dunedin in 2006, said he mainly painted in oil and acrylic, and was “more interested in the way light affects objects than the objects themselves”.
The Butcher’s Hook had its official opening on May 11, and both Ms Bevers and Mr Macgregor said they were excited for its future.