Refreshing changes

New housing, new shopping complex, new offices, new roads – Beachlands is booming with contemporary urbanisation making its mark.

But in the ‘old town’ there remains a sense of the quiet seaside environs which originally attracted the area’s long time residents. What’s more HELEN PERRY discovered that community spirit is at its very heart.

Many hands make light, or so the saying goes. And, in Beachlands, these oft quoted words have once again proved true.

Last month, the first Beachlands Art Exhibition to take place in the Beachlands Memorial Hall since its foyer was rejuvenated marked the successful second stage of a makeover project begun earlier in the year with repainting the historic Log Cabin, a complementary community facility just down the road.

Local artist, Jennie Jonker, who co-ordinated the exhibition, involving some 29 local artists, also guided refurbishment of the hall entranceway which includes a recycled timber display cabinet she, herself, restored.

“Despite all the new development going on around Beachlands, the older streets and original village centre retain their laid back quietude and with two solid facilities available to the community it makes sense to see them in good condition and put to use,” Jennie says.

Although owned by Auckland Council she says both are in the care of a community trust.

“When it was decided the Log Cabin needed a fresh look, more in keeping with its seaside location, four paint colours were chosen and locals were invited to vote on their favourite. Now the interior is a soft duck egg blue with white finishing touches – also used in the hall – and the exterior a light sky blue.”

Although Jennie took responsibility for the water tank and outhouse, which now sport happy aquatic murals, local company, Taylored Revival donated the painted and project managed the makeover.

Then, when it came to the hard graft Jennie says volunteers turned out by the dozen and had the painting down to a fine art ñ it took just one weekend to complete the job. That done, it was time to focus on the hall.

“The foyer is just the beginning, next comes the interior. The art exhibition was a great way to celebrate and demonstrate ways in which the hall can be used. In fact, the area is growing so fast, most days there is something going on at either the hall or the cabin, often both.”

And, Jennie herself has benefited from the facilities. “I’m now a keen volunteer but in the past I attended Log Cabin art classes run by Helen Blair and I have also taught children’s art there. However, when you’re teaching others there’s not a lot of time for your own work.

“I’ve been painting all my life, acrylics and oils, starting back in the Netherlands where I took classes. Then my partner and I with our four children immigrated to New Zealand 11 years ago settling here in Beachlands. However, having the time to commit to the easel isn’t always easy so my painting tends to come and go in waves.”

And, right now, Jennie’s art is on the back burner while she devotes herself to the business of restoring recycled and unique timber furniture.

“I’m really enjoying it,î she says. ìThe work still includes an element of art; I have to be creative and think of solutions but I also have to be practical.”

So, perhaps that’s it for now until Jennie adds, “but, yes, I really must get back to painting, I don’t want to let slip something I love.”