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Refinery ArtSpace – Cultural Conversations

Walking into the Refinery Art Space is a refreshing and soul pampering experience. It’s up with the times and is loved by our community.

Run by passionate locals and the Arts Council Nelson it’s located in Hardy Street and the bright pink signage is hard to miss. The Arts Council is governed by an Executive Committee elected at its Annual General Meeting usually held in October. Up to 12 members are nominated from the wider community; they are joined by an appointed representative from Nelson City Council. Cllr Rohan O’Neil – Stevens is currently the Council Liaison Representative.

The month of May features Courageous Conversations, which is a 4-part mini-series where a migrant to New Zealand gets to tell their story to an inquisitive and sensitive New Zealand listener.

The Storytellers have all faced challenging experiences as part of their relocation to NZ. The interviewers are well-known Nelsonians and are keen to get a better understanding and empathy for the migrant’s story. Each episode is approx 15-25 minutes.

The 4 conversations will play on loop at The Refinery Art Space. There will also be a series of portraits and behind the scene photos displayed in the space to show the process of the project.

Courageous conversations has been produced by Cultural Conversations and Innit Creative Films with sound recorded by Fresh FM. Cultural Conversations is bound to be an enlightening and moving experience. Bring a friend and an open mind.

We spoke with the Community Arts Manager, Lloyd Harwood about what’s on the horizon.

“Arts Council Nelson has been busy laying plans for Clay Fest coming on October 1- 9. It’s going to have a real hands-on element, which will be fun. Expect outdoor pottery wheels, artists showcases, talks, a range of workshops and much much more. We have noticed a rise in this particular genre of creativity during the Pandemic. People love the hands-on Engagement and physicality, which is probably a welcome diversion from the ever increasing screen time many face these days.” says Lloyd.

The Refinery is currently showcasing fabulous large format abstract paintings by internationally acclaimed artist Maico Camilo. Visitors are enjoying viewing these large scale works which are a rarity in our region.

The recent Changing Threads Contemporary NZ Textile Arts Awards exhibition was another huge success, now in its 12th year it continues to surprise and delight.

Our region homes many Wearable Arts Award Winners, and even though it has moved to Wellington city, the talent in our region is astounding. Changing Threads showcases the top artists from all over the country. This year 40 artworks were chosen out of over 160 submissions.

When you look closely at the artworks you will appreciate the hundreds of hours invested in creating these interesting and sometimes edgy works. The winner of the Supreme Award is Wellingtonian Claire Ellery with her impressive artwork titled‘ Strata’ It is constructed using thousands of coffee stirrer sticks, and looks like nothing you have seen anywhere else. The message behind it reflects the power of everyday objects which we discard, but when rearranged, shows the potential for the building of something even greater. I can’t help but wonder how many sticks are woven together?

We could all learn a lot from these wonderful artists. Patience isn’t something that just ‘happens’, it’s a commitment and skill that can often get lost in the digital / copy and paste age we live in.

There is something very relaxing and mindful about completing a manual or repetitive task. It’s something to get inspired about and maybe teach the kids who were born in the ‘get anything fast’ generation.



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