An art school, gallery and supply store, Art Metro helps make Canterbury the creative place it is. Metropol sits down with Malene Reynolds Laugesen to ask a few questions about her teaching role at the Papanui studio.
WHEN DID YOU BEGIN TEACHING AT ART METRO, AND WHAT BRINGS YOU THE MOST JOB SATISFACTION?
“About two years ago. I mainly teach oil and acrylics and teach three adult evening classes and one children’s afternoon class. Seeing the boost people get when a painting they’ve been struggling with starts to fall into place gives me the most job satisfaction.”
CAN YOU DESCRIBE THE ATMOSPHERE OF THE ROOM WHEN EVERYONE’S BUSY AT THEIR EASELS?
“It’s very relaxed. People chat amongst each other, and long-time students are really good at encouraging new students, who are often trying painting for the first time.”
WHEN NOT TUTORING AT ART METRO, YOU’RE FULL-TIME STUDYING AT UC, AND HAVE STARTED THE THIRD YEAR OF YOUR FINE ARTS DEGREE – WHAT’S AHEAD IN FURTHERING YOUR PASSION FOR ART?
“I’ve become fascinated with art history and the idea of curatorial work. I’d like to find a way to continue pursuing these and to find a balance between teaching and my own art practice. I think the two things feed into and complement each other. Painting, for me, creates a deep sense of joy, which I try to bring into teaching. Teaching also compels you to look more closely at your own practice and technique, which is a good challenge.”
Painting may have been one of the hobbies New Zealanders took up over the course of the lockdown. YouTube tutorials may have sufficed then, but now it’s time to increase those skills further.
Enter Art Metro, a creative hub that has produced hundreds of happy students.
Metropol caught up with owner Simon Walmisley about the art school and the exciting opportunities arising for him.
“I believe that what we do here at Art Metro is far more than running a business,” Simon says.
“It’s a community service for people from all over the city, a social experience in a studio space where more than 300 students can enjoy each other’s company.”
Taking that community service as a springboard, Simon has decided to branch out into politics this year, standing under the New Conservative Party banner for the Ilam electorate.
“New Conservative’s strong focus on families and communities really appeals to me and I am excited to represent them as a candidate. I am sure campaigning will be just as challenging and rewarding as I have found being a business owner is,” Simon says.
“As I have with Art Metro, I will make the most of the opportunities that arise.”
Christine Green tells us why she’s been such a fan of Art Metro for nearly a decade.
What prompted you to enrol at Art Metro, Christine?
As Art Metro wasn’t far from my home, I thought I’d give painting a go. I could hardly draw, let alone paint, but once I started, I was surprised at what I could achieve with help from my tutor and peers.
What’s your preferred medium?
Oils – much easier to fix or blend when I make a mistake!
What about genre?
I’ve done a few animal portraits from photos. I recently painted a landscape, which I really enjoyed.
What keeps you returning to Art Metro?
We’ve a lot of banter. Everyone’s friendly, encouraging and incredibly honest about each other’s works. I enjoy the different age groups. A friend joined a few years ago, so it’s a chance for a catch up.
Who is your tutor?
I started with Livia and I now have Sarah. I couldn’t achieve what I do without them! They can suggest what to try and paint, but over time I have discovered what I do and don’t like to paint and now have definite ideas of what I enjoy doing.
What does painting mean to you personally, Christine?
I paint for my own enjoyment and to gift to friends and family.
With class registration numbers ever increasing, three students tell us why they love Art Metro.
Helen Spencer-Bower joined Art Metro 12 years ago. She likes to paint in oils from her own photographs and says her painting has strengthened because of expert tuition. “Most definitely my confidence has become greater from learning the various techniques from my former tutor, Livia, and now my current tutor, Sarah.” While still painting for friends and family, Helen’s ambition is to showcase her works to a public audience.
Sandra Dacombe began at Art Metro in 2007. Initially working in pastels and acrylics, she then discovered oils. She paints mainly in the photo realism genre. “For me, participation in Art Metro classes is as much for social interaction as learning to paint. I’ve met lots of really nice people as well as making some very good friends.” Sandra says she now has the confidence to paint at home having learned the basics in class. “I enjoy painting for myself, but would like to enter some local art sales next year.”
Jayne Warwick commenced Art Metro classes ten years ago; painting with oils, she has explored traditional through to impressionism and is keen to move towards surrealism. Jayne says the tutors take each student on their own learning journey in a non-pressured environment, which is critical to personal creativity. “Art Metro provides an environment conducive to individual expression and, most importantly, the ability of each student to be in control of their own learning.”
Thanks to her father spying an Art Metro advert in the paper, Chelsea Burnside, a 24-year-old office administrator, rediscovered her love for art.
“I studied art throughout high school, but lost touch with it for around four years after leaving. My family have always encouraged me to get back into it, so I joined at the beginning of the next available term.” Chelsea says that pencil drawing and acrylic painting are her preferred mediums, but she will give anything a go, which is also her approach to painting styles. Currently, she’s exploring the abstract form, but also enjoys the challenge of realism painting. “I spent a year dedicated to one painting of a tiger!”
Chelsea loves the atmosphere in her evening class. “They’re a great bunch of people; we always encourage each other. It’s fun and relaxed, even when everyone’s focused. There’s music playing, people chat and chill out. It’s great to come to class after work and just unwind.”
Chelsea says her tutor, Leanne Addison, has been a great inspiration and support in helping her to overcome her lack of confidence with her work. “Leanne’s guidance has helped me create some great pieces. Whatever subject matter I choose, she helps me achieve what I hope for it.”
Though not ruling out commission painting at some point in the future, for now, Chelsea’s happy place is at Art Metro, creating beautiful works in a beautiful space.
For more information visit 465 Papanui Road, phone 03 354 4438 or visit www.artmetro.co.nz.
Three years ago, Paul Hobbs was looking for an art class that would help improve his painting. He spied an advert for Art Metro and immediately emailed owner and Director Simon Walmisley; within a short time, Paul found himself enrolled in a class and perched before an easel.
Paul currently attends the Tuesday morning class. His preferred medium is oils. “I’m learning all sorts of techniques using oils – anything goes, really!”
Paul says his confidence in his painting has grown enormously since he began. “I’m tackling things like snow and clouds now. I’m learning about the tools, like using a palette knife, and I’ve learnt about layering.”
He likes to take a few minutes’ break from his easel to have a wander around and see what his classmates are up to. “I’ve been humbled by seeing the brilliance of some of the others – but that’s all good.”
Paul says he enjoys his classes because the atmosphere is easy going and sociable. “Simon’s also very flexible with times; if you can’t make a class for some reason or other, you can always catch up next time. The teaching is relaxed but really helpful. If you want a bit of guidance, your tutor’s soon by your side.”
When asked if he will stay on at Art Metro, Paul gives an emphatic, enthusiastic response. “Oh yes, definitely. I have learnt such a lot and hopefully I’ve improved!”
For more information visit
www.artmetro.co.nz, email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 03-354 4438.
Sarah Garland and Rodolfo Lopez began tutoring at Art Metro this year. We coax them from their easels to talk about why they love their jobs.
“I get to look at art all day and talk with the lovely students,” says Sarah. “Seeing works progress – it’s nice to know I can positively impact development.”
Sarah, who has a degree in Art History and in Fine Arts, tutors both beginners and advanced students, and is comfortable teaching all genres.
Visual art tutor and freelance professional animator, Rodolfo, says the diverse skill levels and interests of his students are both enjoyable and challenging. “It forces me to recall some of the techniques I learned and problems I encountered while working on my own projects.”
Sarah has great advice for beginners. “Try not to be apprehensive! We can break down the elements of a painting into manageable, achievable chunks. You will find success; everyone here is very positive and encouraging!”
Rodolfo’s advice to those returning to art after time out is to get back to basics. “Instead of creating a big masterpiece, do small studies; it will help get the feel of the essential skills and technicalities in painting.”
Sarah’s personal preferred medium is oils. “My style? Earnest contemporary figurative painting!”
Rodolfo’s favourite artist is Frank Frazetta. “Great art tells a story, evokes emotions, creates an imprint – it compels us to look again and again.”
Interview over, Sarah and Rodolfo rush back to their beloved easels. For more information, visit
Ladies and gentlemen, forget Paris, London and New York. The best in art is right here in Ōtautahi, Christchurch. For your viewing pleasure, we’ve gone in search of some of the latest and greatest. When it comes to art, these four favourites are exhibitionists in all the right ways.
ART METRO: With more than 400 students attending classes weekly, this art school is ace! There’s an ABC for beginners and for the advanced student, classes in freehand drawing, sketching, pastels and water colour; there are classes in oils, acrylics and pastel techniques and, for those into self-expression, classes in abstract art.
Children are offered after school painting, drawing and cartoon classes and the holiday programme is very popular. Do browse their gallery and chat to the artists at work.
BRYCE GALLERY: Their first 2018 exhibition is ‘Nature Speak’, a celebration of our native flora and fauna from artists J. Stewart, Min Kim and Galina Kim.
J. Stewart’s landscapes are mighty, magnificent works that draw the eye and hold your attention, while his C.F. Goldie inspired portraits are flawlessly executed. The subjects look into your very soul; their eyes speak of their stories, their history.
Min Kim’s native tree and birdlife works are exquisite in detail and rendering. Min’s Kowhai, for example, is of the brightest, fieriest autumnal hues, while her New Zealand Falcon pays full tribute to these noble birds of prey.
Galina Kim brings the flora component to the exhibition with flowers that you wish to reach out and touch. Her wildflowers are an untamed delight, while her peonies are delicate, yet flaunting and voluptuous. Planned since December 2017, ‘Nature Speak’ was definitely worth the wait!
Nature Speak – 15 March to 10 April
FO GUANG YUANG GALLERY: Taiwanese artisan Huang Da An is currently on exhibition until April 8, 2018. Huang is a self-taught artist who has recreated the traditional wood-firing ceramic art through a decade-long of experimentation. His ceramics speak for themselves; each piece is a joy – a wonder of texture and colour. Not to be missed!
Auckland artist Dean Buchanan’s works will be on display from April to mid-July. His oils, typically large in size, are colourful, vivid and dramatic, reflecting Dean’s passion and connection to his homeland. Rumour has it that if you’re looking for the painting to grace your home, it should be a Dean Buchanan.
CoCA TOI MOROKI: Peter Robinson’s solo exhibition Fieldwork in which delicate, sculptural forms (comprising wood, wire, paper, metals, magnets and nails) sprawl through CoCA’s galleries.
The intricate scale of the materials also highlights the nature of CoCA’s ‘Christchurch Style’ Brutalist Architecture. The exhibition coincides with the building’s 50th anniversary this year. CoCA was designed by Minson, Henning Hansen and Dines and was purpose built in 1968.
Fieldwork runs 3 March to 13 May.