Artist Retreat in Hinewai Reserve

I recently went on my first artist retreat. I have come back completely recharged and inspired - I hope this feeling lasts!

This will be a memory I will treasure - full of adventure, relaxation, education, and inspiration!

I drove to Hinewai Reserve in the South Eastern corner of Banks Peninsula on the Friday night. The weather had packed it in that day but I was hopeful it would clear. Tricia welcomed me with a hug - we had been communicating for a few months and had the chance to meet in person a couple of weekends earlier at the Pegasus Art Show. Tricia, Paul and I sat at their kitchen table and ate feta (made by Paul) and crackers. We got on so well, it felt like I had known them both for years.

blog-hinewai-artist-retreat-cabin-7.jpg

The following morning I drove to the top of the hill at sunrise to take a photo of the view for a friend. Hoping for clearer weather, I was met by a dusting of snow - not quite what I was anticipating but made for nice scenery!

 Sunrise the first morning.

Sunrise the first morning.

As part of the Artist Retreat, the artist helps in the garden in the morning in exchange for staying at the reserve. As it was still raining Tricia found an inside task for us to do by the fire. What a great idea! While we cleaned the leaves and ink off plant tags, the sun came out and revealed the beauty of Hinewai.

After we finished cleaning the tags, I headed out for a walk in the reserve. The trees were calming and I soaked in the fresh air from the ferns. It felt like it washed away the stress from the working week. When I returned to my cabin I realised I had dropped a glove in the forest - it was as though the forest didn’t want me to leave yet! Luckily I didn’t have to search too far.

(Tap to see more pics above).

blog-hinewai-artist-retreat-walk-view6.jpg

Before our art session I wandered around to find inspiration. I wanted the artwork to be a direct inspiration from the area.

(Tap to see more pics above).

 My inspiration for my first sketch. Paul & Tricia’s Kakariki birds which I photographed moments before our art session.

My inspiration for my first sketch. Paul & Tricia’s Kakariki birds which I photographed moments before our art session.

Inside the house again, Tricia and I started ‘Arting’ as Tricia puts it :) I started an ink and wash drawing of the Kakariki birds that Paul and Tricia breed. Such gorgeous green and red feathers - how could I not. Tricia worked on some garden inspired artworks for a garden themed exhibition she is hosting at the house.

 Start of the Kakariki sketch.

Start of the Kakariki sketch.

Tricia’s artist friend Tori Batt arrived with artworks for the upcoming exhibition. It was wonderful to meet her and the three of us chatted about art related things by the fire, drinking tea and eating freshly baked lemon cupcakes. It felt like we could talk all night if we let ourselves. So lovely to have like minded artists all in one room. Tori give me an artist proof of her first zine she had just finished which I will treasure. Thank you Tori - you can find her work here.

Paul invited me to join him to feed the Kakariki some broom flowers. WOW! I took the camera into the aviary and snapped away happily. What gorgeous birds! And the best inspiration to finish off my drawing.

(Tap to see more pics above).

 Further progress on the Kakariki sketch.

Further progress on the Kakariki sketch.

The next morning I was up the hill again and sadly it was worse weather for a sunrise. Cloudy and sad looking - ah well it got me out of bed and awake!

 Sunrise day two.

Sunrise day two.

By the time I finished breakfast the weather was good enough for Tricia and I to get stuck into the garden where I had a lesson on Hydrangea pruning. Thank you Tricia for holding off your pruning specially to teach me how a pro does it.

Then I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to go with Paul out to the headland. Paul needed to check the rain gauges as part of the data that is collected on the Hinewai Reserve. I helped by holding the wind meter - which was really fun! On the way back Paul gave me a botany lesson of some of the plants and trees in the area.

(Tap to see more pics above).

blog-hinewai-artist-retreat-headland-3.jpg
 Me at the mouth of Otanerito Bay. Wind gusts of up to 78.5 kph!

Me at the mouth of Otanerito Bay. Wind gusts of up to 78.5 kph!

blog-hinewai-artist-retreat-headland-7.jpg

After a spot of lunch Tricia and I were ‘Arting’ again by the fire. I got a sneak peak at some new work that Tricia is developing - some absolutely stunning pencil drawings of animals and insects.

While we were working away Paul came inside and said to me “I think this is the type of pet you’d like” and placed a weta down onto my hand. I freaked for a second as I imagined the little feet were going to tickle my hand. Tricia captured hilarious photos of my reaction on camera. Here is one of the better ones once I had composed myself!

How lucky am I to hold this rare and special weta. This is an Akaroa Tree Weta, which resides only in the South Eastern corner of Banks peninsula. It is considered New Zealand’s rarest weta so I feel very privileged indeed to get to see one up close - let alone hold one.

After the excitement of the weta we placed her back out side and I finished off my drawing of the artist retreat cabin. I later gifted this artwork to Tricia to hang in the cabin.

My time at Hinewai was so special. Full of great yarns, creating art, exploring and tapping into the calming effect of nature and the beauty of being out of cellphone reception - away from my normal routines and distractions from technology. I have felt much calmer this week and when I do feel myself getting stressed I say to myself “Hinewai, Hinewai”, exhaling slowly.

I would thoroughly recommend the Hinewai Artist Retreat to artists wanting to escape, recharge and gain inspiration. Tricia and Paul are the most welcoming hosts. If you want to get in touch with Tricia you can email her on otanerito@gmail.com or reach out on her Facebook page ‘Tricia Hewlett Artist’

 My finished drawing of the Artist Retreat Cabin.

My finished drawing of the Artist Retreat Cabin.

 I had to show the Kakariki the finished bird sketch.

I had to show the Kakariki the finished bird sketch.

 The finished Karariki sketch.

The finished Karariki sketch.