Collegiate students Thousand Stars target reached
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Collegiate students Thousand Stars target reached

Greg Anderson hands over the certificate to art teacher Catherine Richards and Year 13 photography students

Four years ago photography students at Wanganui Collegiate School began fundraising for the Sarjeant Gallery’s Thousand Stars programme, established to raise funds for the Sarjeant Gallery redevelopment project. The students have reached their target of $1,000 and Greg Anderson, Director of the Sarjeant Gallery presented them with a certificate last Wednesday to acknowledge their full contribution. The money was raised through the sale of students’ photographic work exhibited annually at Jolt café on Victoria Avenue. Art teacher Catherine Richards said the experience has been hugely rewarding.

“The response has been amazing. It’s really exciting for the students that somebody wants to buy their work. Over four years we have raised enough for the Sarjeant Gallery $1000 Stars and to cover the mat board framing and printing costs.”

Helping with fundraising for the redevelopment of the Sarjeant Gallery is particularly meaningful for art students. They appreciate its importance as a local and national resource Mrs Richards said. The fundraising has also been an excellent opportunity for the students to gain exposure. Some photographs have sold five or six prints, at $30.00 each, and recent exhibitions by senior students have covered an eclectic range of topics. An abstract photograph of Whanganui architecture was very popular, as was a Lego man riding a skateboard and another of an ice-block melting. One student gained a commission to photograph a wedding.

Mrs Richards said they appreciated the support of Mark Dyhrberg the owner of Jolt. “Mark provides the café space for free and there’s no charge for commission. He just wants to support young, emerging artists and enjoys having the art in the café.” Students who first exhibited in Year Nine tended to photograph “pretty” subjects from nature. Now they are her Year 13 students and their photography has evolved, resulting in more “arty” work. “By the time they exhibit their work in August they will have five years of putting their work out there.”

Mrs Richards who took over the project in 2013 from former Head of Art Paul Collins, now at Whanganui Girls’ College, said students are encouraged to complete community service as part of their wider education. “That’s part of the school’s ethos and values – that you give back to the community and raise money for charities. Fundraising gives the students a sense of value.” She plans to maintain the school’s relationship with the Sarjeant by taking students on visits, showing them that the art gallery is a friendly place and a resource to visit frequently.
“Art galleries can seem quite removed from everyday life so if we can start to break that down in any way people will feel like they can go there. We can also get a bit isolated in schools and intent on our own curriculum so it’s nice to be able to enjoy art just for art’s sake and to talk about it, whether it links to our curriculum or not.”

Wanganui Collegiate’s music department is also a supporter of the Sarjeant redevelopment fundraising where senior students have participated in a number of concerts. Nicola Williams, Chairman of the Sarjeant Gallery Trust Board, says that the gallery highly values the longstanding relationship with the school “Both organisations have extensive networks throughout New
Zealand and are fine examples of what the region has to offer in regards to culture and education”

Helen Frances

 This story was first published in the Wanganui Chronicle on 28 February 2017
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