Arts and culture Creativity

New art studio fulfils artist’s long-held dream


The Joe McMenamin Art Studio & Gallery in Feilding is the fulfilment of a long-held dream. Joe began by teaching art at secondary school and his unique talent has led him to become a self-supporting artist.

His specialty is painting New Zealand’s native birds. He paints them in acrylic on okoume, a type of plywood which, when coated with Danish oil, comes up a rich brown and the grain shows up really well.

I just love nature. I guess I’ve always been fascinated by the way birds move gracefully, especially the fantail,” says Joe.

Many of his works feature flowing organic patterns that represent birdsong or water, spirit and wind, all things that are unseen.

Joe at work on an acrylic on okoume.

Native birds painted in acrylic on a special type of plywood are a favourite.

Birth of a site in Feilding

Last year Joe McMenamin and his family moved to the Manawatu town when Sarah, his wife, was appointed assistant priest at the local St John’s Anglican Church.

He began looking for a possible site and the one he found enables visitors to see the artist owner at work in his adjoining studio.

Joe says his studio and gallery combination that has just opened in Feilding is the only one of its type locally.

Auckland-born Joe grew up in Oamaru and spent his teenage years in Hamilton.

He completed a Bachelor of Media Arts from the Waikato Institute of Technology and took up teaching secondary school art, beginning at Hutt Valley High School in Lower Hutt.

He was head of art at St Catherine’s College, Kilbirnie, before moving towards becoming a full-time, self-supporting artist. During that time, he taught art at Rongotai College, in Wellington, and Naenae College, in Lower Hutt.

Joe has always had an entrepreneurial side and combined doing illustrations and murals for clients during his later teaching years. His work has included several murals for Hutt City Council. He was helped by students he was mentoring.

Sarah was appointed to St John’s in Feilding, Joe set up as the Artist in Residence in the church hall.

Open for business in Feilding.

A women’s fashion store sited near the corner of Manchester Square and Kimbolton Road then became vacant and he took on the lease.

The modern shop came with plain walls and good lighting – ideal for what he had in mind.

The portion at the front is his gallery and flows back into the studio area, which means he can paint when his is not serving customers.

Friend and Manawatu district councillor, Hilary Humphrey, officially opened the gallery at a function on 3 May attended by Mayor, Helen Worboys, local businesspeople, friends and members of the local art society.

There were plenty of sales, especially the range of prints suitable for gifts. With travel agents either side of his business he hopes some of his work will go overseas.

Ruru (morepork) prints individually hand-coloured.

Surfboard-themed art by Joe McMenamin.

Joe plans to have a new exhibition every month. His next will feature work – mostly horses and birds – by other artists. Bookings for solo exhibitions are also welcomed.

He’s not planning on offering classes at this stage – demand for his work is almost greater than he can keep up with.

He will show his work at the Christchurch Art Show at Wigram over 21-24 June. He’s been to it twice before and says his work sold “really well.”

Other items in the gallery are Joe’s New Zealand native bird adult colouring books, small prints (framed and unframed), greetings cards and temporary tattoos.

Opening hours are 10 am until 4 pm Tuesdays to Fridays. Weekends are for his family but he does plan to open the gallery during major weekend events in Feilding.

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For more information:

Joe McMenamin Art Studio & Gallery

2/25 Manchester Square, Feilding.

Mobile – 0273036974


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