August 29, 2011


Twenty original artworks inspired by and celebrating Christchurch before the earthquakes are to be exhibited in Kaikoura at Hislops Cafe, Beach Rd in mid-September.

Entitled For Christchurch, artist Karen James is supporting Christchurch’s Court Theatre by making every piece in the exhibition available for sale, with all proceeds being donated to The Court Theatre’s fundraising appeal for the new theatre in Addington.

Court Theatre Chief Executive Philip Aldridge, who will attend the opening of the exhibition at 2pm 18 September with Artistic Director, Ross Gumbley, says he is hugely appreciative of the donation by James. “For Karen to donate a great deal of her time and energy to the theatre is very generous,” Aldridge says.

James says she started the Christchurch-themed works within days of the quake and it has become her main focus these over the last few months, to create a body of work which captures how she remembers Christchurch. “It didn’t feel right to paint any other subject amidst all the tragedy going on after February 22nd,” she says. ”I’m excited with the process I’m using: each work is mixed media which I think symbolises much about Christchurch, with its rich tapestry of culture, history, the land and its people.

James says all artists have the need to create, even in times of uncertainty, and she finds it even more rewarding to work towards an exhibition where the proceeds are going to help the Christchurch arts community get back on its feet.

Each artwork can be purchased from the minimum price of $550 and will be displayed at Hislops Cafe until 25 September. Any unsold pieces will be displayed for sale in the foyer of the new Court Theatre in Addington when it opens at the end of 2011.

“Our intention has always been to use The Court’s foyer as a gallery and performance space to support other artists, “says Aldridge, “so displaying James’ work is a wonderful way to begin this partnership with visual artists.”

James and husband Bob Bell have also received support from several local businesses and organisations. Hislops Cafe has donated the exhibition space, Peter Yealand Wines is providing wine for the opening and Aartvark Framers has framed all twenty pieces at no charge. The Kaikoura District Council has also offered promotional assistance for the exhibition.

The Court Theatre is running an exclusive auction on Trademe the week before James’ exhibition opens. All twenty artworks will be shown online; the successful bidder chooses which piece they wish to purchase before the exhibition. Visit for more information.

FOR CHRISTCHURCH – a fundraising exhibition by Karen James for The Court
Theatre. 2pm 18 September 2011 until 5pm 25 September 2011.
Hislops Café Conference Room, Beach Road, Kaikoura

Biographical Information: Karen James

Born in Australia in 1966, Karen James grew up in & around Sydney, from 1980 she lived in

the Hawkesbury area, on Sydney’s outskirts. Her first exhibition "Drawn from Life", an exhibition of life drawing with fellow Hawkesbury artist Jennifer Lloyd was in 1997.

In September 1997, Karen travelled extensively throughout the U.K. & Europe with husband Bob; in January 1998 they embarked on a 6-month period of volunteer teaching in Kenya, living with the local people in rural western Kenya, returning to Australia in September 1998. The time spent in Africa led to an exhibition in March 1999 – "A Journey through Kenya".

In January 2000, Karen & Bob moved to Kaikoura, where they built Homewood Hill Gallery which opened in July of that year to exhibit her work. In the studio she paints & teaches weekly art classes to adults & children, & weekend workshops throughout the year.

Karen has won numerous awards in Australia before moving to N.Z. in 2000. Since residing here:
2004 – Finalist – Adam Portraiture Award in Wellington.
2004 – Award for a Marlborough artist – Peters Doig Art Award.
2004 – Highly Commended – Waimate Art Award.
2006 – Finalist – Adam Portraiture Award in Wellington.
2006 – Solo exhibition in Christchurch at the Arts Centre. The exhibition titled "Moments" featured charcoal & pastel drawings of scenes from everyday life.
2007 – Best Portrait Award – Southern Pastel Artist Exhibition, Invercargill.
2009 – Solo exhibition at Encounter Kaikoura. The exhibition titled “Where we live” featured paintings focusing on her surroundings in & around Kaikoura.
2011 – Merit award – Wai Art Portrait Awards, Carterton.

Karen works in oils, pastels and acrylics.  

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