Gordonton’s newest shop, The Mandarin Tree, came into existence unexpectedly.
Artist/photographer Claudia Aalderink says she noticed the empty building when calling in to the nearby dairy.
She wrote the phone number down from the notice on the door and by the time she reached her Horsham Downs home was thinking through options. She decided on opening an art gallery, and held her launch party on Halloween night.
“It’s a lovely space, the atmosphere of the building, the whole feel of the place. Very retro, which suits me. I knew I could do something with it.”
With help from family and friends, Claudia gave the old building, a former garage, a thorough makeover.
“We scrubbed and clean and painted – it is now a very white, crisp space.”
She also got stuck into the small section out back, which was overgrown and inaccessible from the shop. Claudia immediately realised she could turn it into a garden, featuring art and sculpture and had a door put in.
She is thinking about holding workshops and tastings over the summer.
Inside, the shop features work from 21 artists, all unique.
Cambridge artist Vera Bucsu works at the Beer and Wine Company in Hamilton. “Her idea is to paint portraits of people using their favourite wine or beer. So, if you’re into merlot, she will paint you in that. It’s a very beautiful, very striking, effect.”
Other works include Raglan scenes by Jillian Lankshear and ceramic New Zealand lighthouses by Desiree Oosthuysen, who is also responsible for some of the oil paintings.
Claudia believes everyone should be able to own a piece of original art, and says the whole idea of this shop was to create a gallery space that was accessible for many people. There is vintage furniture, hand-printed cushions, coin purses, jewellery, cards and pottery.
The Mandarin Shop also sells Claudia’s own art made from old beehives, sourced from beekeeper husband Harald.
“He came home one day with boxes on his ute, and said they would make good firewood. I took one look at the beautiful colours and textures, and said, oh no, that’s not going to happen.”
Claudia will continue to sell her work at the Gordonton, Tamahere and Rototuna markets, and says she’ll be creating art on Mondays. Sunday is family time, with Harald and daughter Isa.
And Tuesdays to Saturdays, from 9.30 to 4.30pm, you’ll find her at The Mandarin Tree.