With a perfect five out of five review score and more than 2,000 likes on their Facebook page, Artel Gallery + Store, comes highly recommended for a visit. Now based in Ōtaki, and literally brightening up the street front with stunning displays of highly skilled art and designer craft, I caught up with artist and manager, Maude Heath for a chat.

What made you establish Artel Gallery & Store in 2009?
Artel Gallery was established as an artist co-operative in a tiny shop at the Lindale Centre. I joined a year later, and over the next few years the co-op membership shifted and changed. I took it over as a commercial concern in 2014.

What would be some stand out moments for you in the last ten years?
Discovering some wonderful artists and makers on the Kāpiti Coast.

How do you think the visual arts, craft and design industries have evolved in Kapiti during your time at Artel? They’ve grown up. And I love that Craft is becoming a serious medium.

How important are these industries to our local economy?
The arts and creative industries are vital to Kāpiti, especially combined with tourism. We were once known as the ‘Creative Coast’ you know.

What advice do you have for emerging artists looking to approach retail galleries?
Don’t front up unannounced with a pile of your work and don’t expect the gallery owner to look at your stuff on your phone. Explain who you are and ask if it would be ok to send an email with examples. The images need to be cropped and titled.

Tell us about the buyer. Is there a typical profile? What are buyers looking for?
No typical buyer at all, especially as we stock a big range of pounamu, jewellery and gifts, as well as original art. Several art collectors do follow Artel and keep an eye on what we have though. My favourite collector is a surgeon who lobs up in his muddy gumboots on a weekend, is really humble and loves to buy work by Kāpiti artists.

Tell us about your own work. What do you enjoy the most? 
I work with paper, in collage, sculpture and bookbinding. I love the journey it takes you on. 
Artel Gallery + Store is based at 180 Main Highway, Ōtaki,www.artelgallery.net