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West Auckland youth showcase their creative skills as a guide to their business futures

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Artist Rose Kirk with her ink on canvas of her marae Tarimano, near Rotorua, at the Henderson Kākano Youth Arts Collective Gallery. This sold within minutes of its display. Photo / Jason Oxenham

A West Auckland youth initiative is helping young people express their creative skills and plan for possible futures in the art and design worlds.

Although the art is created at the nearby Corban Estate, the Kakano Art Gallery on the main road in Henderson is the shop window for students’ art.

Director Mandy Patmoore says the art programme was developed because of the calls from police and social workers asking if there were any arts or crafts programmes available to students, who were dropping out of mainstream education.

“I got sick of getting phone calls and feeling like I wasn’t doing anything.”

The programme started as a pilot in 2013 with just five students. Patmoore now has core crew of around 15 who attend the programme on a regular basis.

“All the youth have struggled in mainstream education and are out of school,” Patmoore says.

The programme is multi-pronged and focuses on painting, photography, sculpture, T-shirt design and any type of art forms youth find of interest.

“Whatever interests them we pour in knowledge and inspiration and just let them go for it,” says Patmoore.

Artist Everyz Moss has a portrait of Bob Marley for sale at the Kakano Youth Arts Collective Gallery in Henderson. Photo / Jason Oxenham.
Artist Everyz Moss has a portrait of Bob Marley for sale at the Kakano Youth Arts Collective Gallery in Henderson. Photo / Jason Oxenham.

Youth stay in the programme until they feel they’re ready to move on. Patmoore has had some students for six years.

“We’re not a programme where kids come for six weeks, get a certificate and graduate, we’re like a whānau.”

The programme has seen great success over the 10 years it’s been operating and the change in the young people has been staggering. Some youth have gone on to the film industry, others to study art and design at Unitech.

“We still check in and follow up on them, make sure they’re alright, sometimes even years after they’ve left the studio we still keep in touch.”

The Kakano Art Gallery was opened in March and Patmoore says the youth run the space, selling affordable art pieces ranging from $3 to $500. The day the Herald photographer visited, Rose Kirk had just sold her the sketch of her marae.

Patmoore says 90 per cent of the profit goes to the artist and 10 per cent to support the programme running.

The placement of the gallery on the main road in Henderson was also important for Patmoore.

“We want to revitalise the town centre, it’s all about the bigger picture, doing our part to help develop a healthier community,” she says.

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