Happy birthday to the Mandarin Tree!

Elvis takes part in the party
Elvis takes part in the party

Causes for celebration – we won the rugby and The Mandarin Tree turned one on the weekend. Number 8 Network caught up with gallery owner Claudia Aalderink before the party.

1.  Congratulations. How does it feel to get to be one year old?
It’s wonderful. I feel very proud at what has been achieved; to see the gallery grow every day is amazing. It’s never the same – new art work is always coming in.

2.  One of your goals at the start was to create a space for artists. You’ve achieved this?
Definitely. A year on, people/artists know where to find me, and will seek me out. Word of mouth has been fantastic, the recognition is out there now. I get new people coming to me practically weekly.

3.  So you seldom have to go looking?
I still keep a track of what is happening, what is new. Social media is useful, I find some interesting people through Facebook.

4.  Tell us something about the artists you’ve featured.
I work with 55 to 60 artists, from locals to down the South Island. It’s amazing to see the creativity and diversity in this country.

CHAMPIONS:  A particulary apt potographic print by Karin van Til.
CHAMPIONS: A particulary apt potographic print by Karin van Til.

5.  What is your criteria when sourcing artists?
The first thing is all work has to be 100% New Zealand made. So that is the first question I ask. My initial goal was to create a gallery for everyone, and every wallet, so there is something for everyone. I try to provide a variety of art works and prices.

6.  Do you fall in love with an artwork and find it hard to part with it?
Yes! I handpick everything myself, and while it’s important to think of the wider audience, you often connect with pieces. I have just put aside on piece for myself for Christmas, in fact…

7.  How do you make it all fit inside the space?
It seems to have grown from when I opened up, looking at the early photographs it seems a little plain and empty. Now there seem to be art everywhere, and the garden is also filling up. Sometimes people will walk around for half an hour, and comment they still haven’t seen everything.

8.  Is there such a thing as too much art?
I don’t know – I certainly haven’t reached that stage yet! It’s not too full for me.

9.  What have been some of the highlights thus far?
That’s easy – being surrounded by so many inspirational people.

10.  How about challenges or struggles?
There’s never enough time in the day. In addition to the gallery, I have my own work to create and my family to spend time with. Sometimes it can be a bit of a juggle.

11.  How does it work being in Gordonton?
Locals are always dropping by, I’m becoming part of the community and embraced as an addition to the village. When I arrive in the mornings people call out greetings, we chat about everyday things, it’s lovely.

12.  What plans have you got for the future?
I’d love to see the gallery grow, making new connections, while maintaining the quality.  Next year I aim to enter the Top Shop awards, run by Retail NZ, where customers vote for the best shop in the country. So watch this space!

Click here for an earlier story on The Mandarin Tree.

Celebrations all around this weekend.
Celebrations all around this weekend.
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Number 8 Network - a community website for the rural areas northeast of Hamilton, NZ, is run by Gordonton journalist/editor Annette Taylor.

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