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Taking a creative approach in Nelson

Who would not want to live in Nelson? The region has it all. A pleasant year-round climate. Abundant natural attractions in the form of lakes, mountains, rivers, bush, and beaches. And, not least of all, a vibrant arts scene.

Since 1995, an annual highlight of the cultural calendar has been the Nelson Arts Festival, which in 2019 attracted performers from as far afield as Scotland, Germany and the United States.

For the 2019 Festival, Project Coordinators Padma Naidu and Tanya Nock reached out Nelson’s Bhutanese, Colombian and Sri Lankan communities, inviting them to take part of a project called ‘Cultural Conversations’.

For three days, each group occupied the Festival Tent at the top of Trafalgar Street, creating a drop-in centre for activities that included dice games, music, dancing, hair-braiding and maskmaking.

At the end of the Festival, the groups gave performances on the Church Steps.

Elsewhere, Make/Shift Spaces, one of Nelson’s newest arts organisations, hosted a series of mask-making workshops in preparation for the Mask Parade and Carnivale, one of the Festival’s signature events.

The workshops were held in empty retail spaces negotiated by Make/Shift Spaces.

Nelson’s Colombian community became enthusiatic mask-makers. Over two Saturdays, Colombians ranging in age from youngsters to grandmas gathered in a former lighting shop to create a series of colourful masks.

Their creativity earned them pole position at the front of the Mask Parade.

Tanya Nock’s next project, Māramatanga, will form part of Te Ramaroa – Nelson’s biennial light festival.

As part of the Māramatanga project, Sri Lankan and Colombian artists will decorate a large moon sculpture, which will be suspended in the city centre and accompanied by a sonic backdrop of music drawn from India, Sri Lanka, Latin America and Aotearoa. Again, Make/Shift Spaces are playing a key role in bringing Māramatanga project together.

“I love connecting our community through the arts”, says Tanya. “Language and culture are no barrier when there is creativity”

Source: Frances Wilson, March 2020 | Settlement ACTIONZ |



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