Creating a community and a home for artists is what makes Pablos Art Studios a vital part of Wellington, says its manager, Anastasija Bubanja. It’s all about supporting and empowering everyone who comes into the space.
Last year, Pablos Art Studios moved from its home in Tory Street to Vivian Street. Looking for a new space that artists could call home was challenging because of a shortage of affordable, commercial spaces in the inner city and earthquake safety regulations.
"There were several challenges trying to find the right space for something so essential,” Anastasija says. “However, we are pleased with our new space. It’s lighter and more open, and has a clearer sense of community."
Pablos Art Studios’ mission is to help affirm the identities of their artists, who process the world around them and their internal worlds, telling stories through their artwork.
At Pablos, they have the means to gather information, document it in their art and communicate their ideas to people who see their work.
"Art plays a critical role in defining, affirming and celebrating our identity,” Anastasija says. “We already have incredible identities: art simply reinforces this.”
Pablos Art Studios supports its artists with a professional, nurturing and non-judgmental approach. Its tutors encourage the artists to take first steps and problem solve. They don’t need technical artistic skills and all creativity is cultivated within the space.
Phoebe Gray, an artist and a co-representative on the governing board at Pablos Art Studios, says: "Art is something raw, a way of communicating what words cannot.”
Getting involved in the community
The studio provides many opportunities for its artists to get involved both within Pablos’ community but also in the wider community of Wellington.
Its workshops and events such as gallery exhibitions and the annual art auction make the artists feel included and a part of something that helps them give back.
For many of the artists at Pablos, art is work. It is vocational and gives them a sense of purpose.
As one artist says, “It’s an amazing privilege to be able to come here and have tutors and art supplies supplied for us. It’s given me a sense of purpose and a reason to get out of the house.”
Long-time member of Pablos, Reece Tong, says: "I have been here for 14 years. It's so important to have a career and art is something I need to do."
Art is integral to the lives of the artists who have made a home and community for themselves at Pablos Art Studios. They say they feel safe to pursue their internal need to make art, and they find self-acceptance and healing at the creative space.
"The notion of home is powerful"
The creative community fostered at Pablos is one of the main reasons artists at Pablos keep returning.
“The notion of home is powerful,” Anastasija says. “And when we seek peace, we ask what it means to feel at home.”
One of the recent projects at Pablos was the "Celebrating 30 Years of Pablos Art Studios” art project. Many of its current artists contributed artwork to the project.
The project celebrates the legacy of the studio and its artists. It is currently displayed near the studio’s street-front window for people passing by to see the work of Pablos’ artists and what the studio is about.
As Reece says, “I've seen Pablos, our artists and the public interest in Pablos grow. I want people to know that our art is here, why we come here and what it is we do.”