Art supply store and gallery with a great vibe

Heather Leeves in her art supply shop and gallery in Ridgway St, HLjKO. Photo / Paul Brooks

There is a small art supply store and gallery in Ridgway St that is worth a visit, and soon it will be the location of an exhibition of fascinating paintings.
HLjKO is where you’ll find Heather Leeves, presiding over a tastefully decorated and stocked boutique and showroom.
She is an artist, studied here in Whanganui and, like many artists before and since, has stayed to take advantage of the artistic community and all the opportunities open to talented and creative people.

Her boutique and gallery are surrounded by specialty shops like The Book Hunter, The Gatshack, Ragnificient, and nearby is Ambrosia…and there’s always room for more.
“It’s a good little street with a lot of potential,” she says. Frank is across the street and Countdown is a short walk away.

Her own work is in HLjKO – and she has a remarkable range of skills – as well as works featured by 12 other artists. “It’s mostly artists that I’ve met and spoken to who want to exhibit their work,” she says. There are plenty of household names out there, like Gina Edmonds, Melissa Crawford, Holly Mackenzie, Antonia Sims, Rachel Dickison, Rosalind Fitz Patrick, Dani Henke, Lorraine Halliwell, Gillian Hill, Basil Hooper, Jenni Corbett, and Elena Altakhova.

Heather specializes in retail art supplies. “I have good quality brands as well as better value for money.
“I’m really excited about the product.” Paints, papers, brushes, pastels and many more make up the available products, and she would like to be able to stock more of them.

The gallery space is quite spacious with an additional extension at the back, making it ideal for an event or exhibition. “That’s what’s close to my heart,” she says. “Use space.”

An exhibition of Hope Hucklesby’s work, starting this week, is the first such event to be held at HLjKO.
“I met Martin [Hope’s son] and we got to talking. He progressed and I think he really wanted to do that for Hope.” This is the Hope Hucklesby retrospective exhibition and features paintings by Hope, who, by the way, is first and foremost a writer. Hope is now retired and resides in Whanganui.The exhibition runs from September 9 to October 22. The opening night is intended as a celebration of the artist and the gallery and is an open event from 5-7:30pm.

In addition to this to come, the gallery showcases an array of paintings, drawings, maps, glass work, pottery, jewelry and more.
“I try to create a mood,” she says. She stocks up on little trinkets to help create that feel, and Melissa Crawford’s art adds to it. Heather likes to think it’s “fun and magical”.

The shop and the gallery keep her busy, but Heather is also a student — she’s taking a carpentry course at UCOL — and she works a night shift.
“I’m open to suggestions for art supplies,” she says. “I would like to know what interests people.
“To me, it’s always good to use a bit of quality, especially if you want to sell your work…then you know you’ve done it once and you’ve done it well.”

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