26 July 2018

Art with Heart

This year’s Emerging Artist Awards at The Upstairs Gallery promises to be an excellent showcase of talented artists in the West.


In the centre of Titirangi sits the imposing structure of Lopdell House: an iconic piece of architecture in West Auckland and the home to many businesses and cultural activities in the village. It is also home to The Upstairs Gallery. I meet up with Sammy Milne, Gallery Manager and Curator to find out more about the gallery and this year’s awards.

The Upstairs Gallery is a community-centred space that supports and promotes emerging artists - young and old -  and promotes itself as a hub of inspiration, creativity and of Whanau. It provides a place for emerging artists to socialise, to showcase artwork of all mediums, and offers an opportunity for everyone to connect with art.All curated by Sammy Milne, with the help of gallery co-ordinator Carlos and a tribe of volunteers, they believe in making art accessible to all.The gallery hosts around 12 exhibitions per year, with a mix of solo and group shows. It also hosts a number of events and community competitions to raise awareness of the gallery and promote arts within West Auckland and the wider Auckland region. Being a not-for-profit community art gallery, the Upstairs Gallery relies hugely on sponsorship, the support of our community volunteers, and its paid gallery members. 

This is the 10th anniversary of the Emerging Artist Awards and in celebration of this has a theme of ‘Empathy’.  This is the first year the awards have had a theme. It is one which they are they are incredibly passionate about; it also has an amazing back-story.  

Sammy Milne, Gallery Manager

Sammy Milne, Gallery Manager

Gallery Manager Sammy went on to tell me about how the theme was inspired after a talk at an opening night event with a professor of psychotherapy -  a tenant in Lopdell House - about an amazing demonstration of empathy by an artist who had done a portrait of the husband of a very recently-widowed sponsor. Feeling moved by the sponsor’s generosity and commitment to the event at such a hard time, the artist had found images on the internet of the husband.She then painted an amazing portrait that captured him so well and dropped it off at the gallery for them to pass on to the widow.The psychotherapist went on to tell Sammy that art and psychotherapy are linked in so many ways and that he had always been fascinated by artists and their work, how their work becomes a form of therapy. So, she decided to take his idea further and hence the theme for this year’s award. 

Connect, an organisation to help with mental health issues and recovery, are also one of the sponsors and will be holding workshops and talks. They have an art therapist who will also be running some workshops.

Danae Ripley, last year's winner

Danae Ripley, last year's winner

With this theme in mind, the Upstairs Gallery wants the art to engage the local community in support of mental health with the belief that art is a tool to help people understand mental illness in a way that is both enlightening and therapeutic.  As expressed in the call-to-artist brief: “A work of art can evoke powerful emotions. The colour palate, the textures and the subject matter can all cause an immediate emotional response. This intense trigger of emotion is why we have chosen empathy as the theme for this year’s exhibition. Let your creativity run wild by submitting a work of art that cultivates empathy, helps people become more aware of their own emotions and more receptive to the emotions of others.” 

Last year’s winner was Danae Ripley who is currently travelling abroad continuing working on her art. Another of last year’s winners was Lucasz Ograbek who received the Robin Kewell Award. 

Lucasz Ograbek

Lucasz Ograbek

I caught up with Lucasz in his Glen Eden studio.  He is a self-taught artist in his spare time from his job as a house renovator. He is absolutely passionate about his art and how much feeling and sentiment art produces in the viewers.  He works in his sketchbooks religiously and tries to capture everything that inspires him visually. He is soon to have a solo show at the Upstairs Gallery. Opening night on Friday, August 31 at 6:00 PM until Sunday, September 23.

The work of 10 deserving finalists will be exhibited in The Upstairs Gallery from  Friday 3rd August until - Sunday 26 August,  and three artists will be awarded prizes worth over $5000. 

The gallery is open from 10 am - 4 pm, every day of the week! To find out more visit www.upstairs.org.nz. To find out more about the some of the sponsors of Connect, go to www.connectsr.org.nz.


Return to blog

More recent posts

2 April 2020

‘World First’ International Online Real Estate Auction

In what is believed to be a ‘world first’, the Ray White Group has just completed its first ever international online auction sale with their auctioneer in isolation in Brisbane, some 2288km…

19 March 2020

Something quite special

Not only is this a home exquisitely finished, its diverse layout and enviable location make it an absolute must-see for anyone in the market for city-centre sanctuary.

12 March 2020

Go bold and bright

Interior designer Anya Brighouse unapologetically loves colour, and owning a very old Mount Eden home has in no way cramped her style.

5 March 2020

Un-follow Fashion

Forget fads and trends, think form and function. It will pay you dividends.

20 February 2020

Turning Over a New Leaf

After spending the first half of his life in the corporate world, and hating everything about it, Derek Hillen decided he wanted to do something more positive with the second half. But what?…

13 February 2020

Cox’s Bay Clean Up 2020

After a year’s absence the Cox’s Bay Clean Up is back – and the team at Ray White Damerell Group can’t wait to pull on their gumboots, grab a rubbish bag and get busy.

6 February 2020

Kauri Dieback

Photographer Michelle Hyslop explores kauri dieback through the personal stories of the people close to the trees and their fight to save – and protect – these giants of the forest.

30 January 2020

Holy Grail

Finding a genuine and unadulterated Modernist house is difficult these days. Discovering one that’s had all the hard work done, yet remains true to its original intent and character, is almo…

16 January 2020

Accelerating Density

All over Auckland in areas zoned for density, the NIMBY’s are winning the battle against change as a climate of fear stops good developments from making headway. The Unitary Plan rezoned Auc…


Contact Us

Are you interested in knowing more about one of these articles? Please fill out the form below to get in contact with us.