Art Activator Laura Forest
People inside the art world are always talking about taking art outside the gallery “context” and making it accessible to everyone. As if those of us without bulging collectors’ budgets aren’t brave enough to walk inside a white box — which seems kind of insulting, but also maybe true.
Laura Forest, 30, isn’t an intimidating arty sort. She’s got a lovely smile and an earthy boho vibe. Perhaps her warmth comes from the fact that her background is in social work, not prowling the highly conceptual halls of art school. These days, Forest is a slashie photographer/artist/curator and is still caring about the community in her role as the “activator” of Art Week’s programme around Karangahape Rd. It’s a neighbourhood she knows well: her studio is an airy, collective space in Cross St.
K’ Rd remains staunchly the city’s preferred spot for creatives — and one that will be opened up to the art curious during the citywide Art Week, which runs to October 20. Forest’s programme feeds off the connection between artists and the community, with established artists creating installations for local shop windows.
Local historian Edward Bennett’s tales are the inspiration for Circuit, an exhibition of site-specific works by local artists. Russian-born artist WERT159 decodes street art — such as this Zoe Hall work pictured behind Forest — on graffiti walking tours of the ridge. Or you can cover more ground on a cycling tour from K’ Rd to Parnell or Ponsonby, perusing the art of the street from the saddle and being gently led inside — gasp — galleries.
First published Metro November 2013. Photographed by Stephen Robinson