The NOA Open Studio’s table is a riot of colour, as artists put paint to paper amid patterned materials and inspirational books.
NOA is both an acronym for Notes Of Art and Te Reo for “an area without restriction, safe and open for everyone”, says facilitator Aroha Lowe . ”It means things in other languages too, which is really nice. It’s a global term, in a sense.”
The studio is a step beyond Te Manawa’s collaboration with Creative Journeys. Anyone is welcome, of any ability.
“This is a drop-in thing. People can book ahead or they just turn up on the day,” says Aroha. “We’ve had sessions with children, other adults, friends, or tourists who’ve just popped in to Te Manawa.”
She’s keen for those in the class with disabilities to not be defined by them. “Actually they’re artists, and they have all sorts of abilities.”
“What we do is initiated by the artists we have on any given day.” Aroha sources materials – clay, stones, even ice – and everyone takes it in whatever direction they like. Inspiration can be taken from things around the museum: there are a few dinosaurs on the table today; one of the class is finding his muse amid the social history of Manawatū Journeys
“We approach art in the broadest sense.”
Aroha says NOA has been valuable for those experiencing depression or grief, or for people seeking a haven from a stressful situation. “There is the element of it being therapeutic.”
NOA Open Studio is in the Te Manawa foyer for two sessions each Tuesday and Thursday: 10am-noon, 12.30-2.30. You can find them on Facebook too.