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Monday, October 1, 2012

You would have to get up pretty early in the morning to accomplish more than Deborah White does in a day… in fact, you probably wouldn’t even get to bed the night before.

If you don’t find her tap tapping away behind the desk at Whitespace, the Grey Lynn gallery she runs with partner Kenneth Johnson, she is likely to be out and about arranging any one of a multitude of community art projects she is involved in.

Occupying most of her time the past few months is ARTWEEK – a 10 day celebration of Auckland’s visual arts – which opens this week. The event presents 100 events and exhibitions, across 60 public and private venues citywide and Deborah, as the principal coordinator, pulls all of the participants and content together.

In addition to some great exhibitions, ARTWEEK features a huge range of engaging events and excursions: art walks and bike tours in the city, Art Speed Dating, studio visits, to bicycle tours of the city and far too many more to list here, so make sure you check out the website.

All of the ARTWEEK events are focused on getting more people interested and involved in contemporary art. “It’s all about making people aware of what’s on out there in our community, right under their noses” says Deborah, “We get so many comments along the lines of “I had no idea there were so many galleries in the city…”

It was a desire to expand the audience for contemporary art and to support the galleries that play such a pivotal role in its development, which led Deborah to thinking Auckland needed its own Art Fair. So, deploying her inexhaustible energy and determination, she promptly set about starting one, roping in like-minded (but unsuspecting) individuals like myself to help organise it, and in 2005 the Auckland Art Fair was launched.

After four successful fairs and another in the pipeline, Deborah continues to be actively involved as the coordinator of the fair’s public programme. The role suits her collaborative, community-minded ethos and allows her to do what she does best: bring people together and get them talking.

“People need something to connect them – and art does that – it communicates our stories.”
Deborah is a founding trustee of the NZ Contemporary Art Trust, the governing body behind both Artweek and the Art Fair, and has been active in numerous other boards including Tautai, Uptown Arts Trust, Poetry/Spoken Word Arts Trust to name a few.



IMAGE: Deborah at gallery with ceramic dog by Jim Cooper.

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