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Last modified: 18 Aug 2020 8:15am

Two women paint landscape paintings on a long bench

Four years ago a former electrical store building sat empty on Leeston’s High Street.

One day Ellesmere Art Group Trust member Averil Southward was asked by the building’s landlord to brighten up the place with her art in the window and before long people started ringing wanting to purchase her work. Today over 6,000 people visit this building each year to view the many pieces of artwork displayed in the building’s windows and gallery space.

The Lakeland Art Gallery, run by 19 volunteers, has a separate tutor room used for workshops for the public and members of the Ellesmere Art Group Trust.

“It’s different to other art groups in that we’ve got a comfortable tutor area all set up and a gallery where artists can display their art and be with art the whole time. We’ve made it feel like home,” Averil says.

The workshops are funded by the Council’s Creative Community Fund. The fund goes towards art tutors and materials such as mosaic tiles and acrylic paints for the workshops. Averil has been a part of the Ellesmere Art Group Trust for ten years and says the trust has been using the fund for many years – long before she  joined – which has enabled it to open this hub for the community.

“People just love coming here. I’ve got a lovely elderly lady who comes here, she’ll come in once a month because it puts a smile on her face. You get these comments and it just makes you feel so good, it’s nice if you can provide that for people,” she says.

It has even attracted new Selwyn residents exploring the area and often they become trust members and volunteers.

“There’s hours and hours of work that goes into it but we’re very proud of it and we’re hoping we can stay here for a really long time.”

Applications for the Creative Community Fund are now open.