Whisky Art Gallery closes in precinct


An exhausted curator walked around an empty gallery yesterday afternoon reminiscing about loyal artists and a bouyant business.

Dawn Mann, resident artist and curator of the Whisky Art Gallery, Oamaru, has helped clear about 20 carloads of artwork from the site and has closed her business.

Trucks were outside the historic precinct building on Friday to pick up all the heavy items.

Dawn’s daughter Kathryn, Kathryn Design Jewellery, has also closed her doors.

Ms Mann said they want to go somewhere warmer and have all but finalised new premises in Hawke’s Bay.

After seven winters in the freezing Loan and Merc building, the coldest day being 3 degrees, she is heeding medical advice and heading north.

Alternative premises and options have been presented to them, Ms Mann said, but selling her home immediately after putting it on the market has made them feel committed to relocating.

The gallery has promoted North Otago artists since its inception in January 2008 and the business had built up over the years to about 100 exhibitors, some long term.

“I’m an artist and I always wanted it to be artist friendly.”

“If we took an artist on board they kept the space – we took a small commission.”

Alison Bevers, Oamaru, has had her work displayed in the gallery for many years and has been helping the Manns to pack up.

“Its going to leave a big hole,” she said.

While Ms Bevers had some work exhibited in Dunedin, like many other whisky gallery artists she had not yet found an alternative site in this district.

Ms Mann said the business had experienced good sales lately and returns were increasing every month.

“We even sold a painiting for $4000 at the weekend.”

These good results though had come at a cost with businesses in the street expected to open seven days and do long hours to accomodate tourists.

“People would get very grumpy if we didn’t open seven days.”

The art gallery and the jewellery business, with their two large rooms adjacent to one another, required two people to be present all the time which, Ms Mann said, was tough on owner operators who were not quite making enough profit to employ others to help.

“The precinct needs tourism levels (numbers) to be pumped up so that it is less exhausting.

“Then perhaps we could have looked at opening from 9am-9pm and have a second shift come on in the afternoon.

“It would also be good to have two months off over the winter.”


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